Voluntary 911 Fees and Free 411 Service!
Several years ago, magicJack began charging its customers for access to the magicJack 911 emergency service. In addition to magicJack 911 service, there is also a free 411 service (for businesses contacts only). Keep in mind that the magicJack 911 service is simply passed through to the same emergency personnel all other phone companies use, while magicJack operates its own 411 service. There are a few other things you need to know about each service, however.
MagicJack's 411 Service is Convenient – and Free!
Until the mid 1980's, 411 phone service was offered free by most of the major telephone companies. Customers could count on receiving free phone books containing residential and business phone numbers. Most of those free services disappeared long ago . Most phone companies in the US now charge an average of $1.99 per call for directory assistance, while Canadian phone companies charge an average of $1.99 CAD per request for assistance. Directory assistance has become a significant source of revenue for phone companies, given that consumers make approximately 6 billion calls to 411 each year in the US alone.
Google offered a free 411 service from 2007 to 2010 with the intent to gather information to improve their voice recognition software. Google discontinued that service once they had enough information to make the system work reliably. MagicJack is one of the few places you can get free 411 service as part of your inexpensive subscription to their VoIP phone system.
You can access the magicJack 411 system by calling 411 from your magicJack phone, or by clicking the 411 button on magicJack's softphone window on your computer. Either will connect you to a human who will give you contact information for the businesses you specify. Unfortunately, the service does not provide contacts for people – it's only set up to provide business phone numbers.
Warning #1 – Set Up Your magicJack 911 Service
The use of 911 as a standard for emergency calls was set up in the United States in 1968, but never anticipated the existence of mobile phones (or magicJack). The 911 system directs emergency services to the address associated with the caller's phone number. If you move your magicJack to a new address or simply take it with you while traveling, emergency personnel won't be able to find you unless you provide your location.
Warning #2 – magicJack 911 Service Doesn't Work Everywhere
When you first setup magicJack, you should follow the directions given below. Some things you need to know:
- Canadian addresses require the use of Canadian phone numbers, and US addresses require the use of US phone numbers. While you can use your Canadian magicJack south of the border, you cannot change to your US address for the winter and expect the magicJack 911 service to work
- The magicJack mobile app does not work with the magicJack 911 service. If you dial 911, you have to tell the operator where to send emergency personnel. You could be calling from anywhere!
- When you register your magicJack, the address you specify is used as the initial 911 response location.
- MagicJack will send you an email confirming your 911 service address. If your magicJack is plugged into your computer, the 911 icon on the magicJack softphone window will turn green to indicate the location's acceptance. A yellow icon indicates confirmation of the location is pending.
- Note that magicJack's 911 service will not work if your internet connection is down or if your power has failed. You should consider having a cell phone handy in the event your magicJack is inoperative; if you live in an area prone to power failures, you may want to install a battery backup.
- Recently, court filings in the United States have led to magicJack charging its customers for 911 service. A screen shot for the old magicJack 911 service is above, and the new one is below. A new column now shows for 911 service payment. I have paid for one device (the one we use regularly), but not for the other (one used just for testing).
It's important to note that the system is not automatic; it will not work without your participation. You must register the address where you're using the device. If you fail to do so, the 911 service won't know how to find you. If you regularly travel to a second home, register that address – and login to magicJack to change it when you spend time there.
Questions or Comments?
Do you have a question or comment about either the magicJack 911 or 411 service? Drop a note in the comment box below and put it out there for all to see! You may find the answer you're looking for – or perhaps you'll hear from another sympathetic user.