Consumer expert Clark Howard’s column appears here each Thursday in conjunction with Deal Spotter, a weekly print section in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
There’s a phone service I’ve been using for years called Ooma.com. You pay as little as $100 to $220 to buy the device, which provides phone service for the life of the Ooma service.
Ooma requires that you have high-speed Internet to use it. Once you buy the unit, you bring your existing number over from your local monopoly phone company and that’s it. You get local calling, long-distance calling, voicemail and caller ID from Ooma. No more monopoly phone company bill!
So you just pay once to buy the unit and you’re done — with an asterisk. There are regulatory junk fee pass-through charges that are billed annually at a cost of $11 or $12.
But Ooma recently sent out a notice about a change in its terms of service to say the pass-throughs will now be around $38 annually.
The new changes in terms of service mean you’ll now be paying $3 and change per month in junk fees for free home phone service for the life of Ooma.
I hate that they’ve raised the fees, but this is still a real value proposition. If you were to buy an equivalent package of calling services from your local phone company, it would probably be $40 or $50 a month.
Again, I have to stress this is “for the life of Ooma.” If you go and buy a unit and Ooma quickly goes bust, you’re out the money for the unit. You’ll never get that money back. But I’ve had Ooma for years and have saved for years.
The ultimate test is my wife, who has not let me disconnect our monopoly landline at home for whatever reason. The funny thing is given the choice of the landline and the Ooma, she always uses the Ooma because the calls are so much clearer than traditional landline calls.
-by Clark Howard, Save More, Spend Less, Avoid Rip-offs
“Clark Howard’s Living Large in Lean Times” is Clark’s new book, in stores Aug. 2. Visit ClarkHoward.com for info about pre-ordering.