Rebtel, Jajah, and CallBack 2.0

34 Comments

Last few days there has been a lot of talk about Rebtel, Jajah, and a whole slew of VoIP companies which are essentially, as Andy calls them “minute stealers.” Jajah, which has introduced a mobile version of its call back service, well, at least that is easy to use, and good to use in a pinch.

Rebtel is a head-scratcher, and would make you reach for a bottle of aspirin. There is a whole debate around Rebtel currently being played out on the B2blog.

Just because Jeff Pulver likes them, and Index Ventures and Benchmark invested a whole bunch of money in this company doesn’t mean its all that. Rebtel wants consumer behavior change. That is all right, when things are simple, but not when you have to call, wait for 20 seconds and then the other party calls back.

Jeff says they have something up their sleeve – if they do, why not talk about that right now. Otherwise to me Rebtel is nothing but a money stealer. The argument for these services is that they will save money. Well, calling cards save money, are simple to use, and no waiting required. I buy a card, program the number in my cellphone, call parents and well, save money. Pretty low tech, but pretty low stress also.

(PS: Can anyone comment on the impact of these minute stealers on termination fees, especially in countries where these calls are going to be ending up in? Those governments are not going to be happy about this…)

34 Comments

Joanna M

SCAM, SCAM, SCAM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Run away from Rebtel. I have just been ripped off – 20 US$

I was able to make the first call for few minutes (maybe five). After that, the access number no longer worked, and every time I tried to make a call, it did not work but still deducted from my credit. It says I made a 2 hour call when in reality I was not even connected.

I should have known… when there are no phone numbers listed for you to contact a customer service person, rest assure it is a scam.

I sent e-mails that have not been responded. I called a couple of “access” numbers, and they give you option “9” to talk to someone. But when I dialed “9” it says that option was not valid.

These people should be sued.

Sean Xie

Much information here are out of date. I tried Rebtel and am happy about the sound quality and service. Jaxtr is also very interesting and offers cheaper rate. I will give it a try. Other services, such as Jajah and vopium are choices that may be better for other users. Overall, these services all have their pros and cons. Doing research can certainly be the way to find a plan that fits you the best. Thanks to this forum that has introduction to these companies, as there was no good search option to find them on the web.

Mike

The original post says we should use phone cards. Phone cards are rip offs. They tell you you have 40 minutes for a
5 dollar card and you end up with 21. If you get disconnected, then you loose like $2.00. It’s about time these scam cards are played out. Call customer service, it’s someone in India. When you figure them out, they come back with a different name and pictures. I know this is true because I have seen 4 or 5 different $5 dollar cards to Africa with the same contact number. I don’t see any issue with Rebtel, but now that I know Jaxtr is 5 cents cheaper, it’s bye bye Rebtel.

tad

those blind critics against Rebtel are really unfair.The only problem with Rebtel is they are resting on their laurel and other VOIP companies are taking over where they stopped.

Sarah

I like Jajah’s iPod Application but I am using Vopium on my N95 and I am quite satisfied due to its premium voice quality. And the best thing in it is Vopium Sync application which creates an automatic backup of mobile data. Now I don’t need to worry about my mobile data. I heard about Rebtel that they are offering 10 mins on signup, I want to add more that Vopium is offering Free 30 Minutes for international calls with 100 SMS as well. So guys don’t miss the Free Minutes :)

baxidecat

Try Manifone! They leave it up to you to decide what’s best for you. Combine their voip plan with any other voip provider, plus your landline. They’ll give you a set of local access numbers to assign to your friends’ numbers. It’s not for the average user though. It’s for those who call quite a lot of international destinations using their mobiles.

manjur

fonemine is greatest of alllll…….try it out…..it free friend…

Rebtel

guys,
I have recently contacted by phone and email by REBTEL.
They cry that their service is free.
Actually it is a 1 dollar weekly subscription, then the price of calling a local , then the price of calling a second local number(by your frind at the other end).
if is really free who is paying?
the client is paying always…and you are the client for rebtel.
be careful.
:)

will

just when you thought it had all gone quiet, we’ve re-opened the minute stealers debate and moved it on!

we’ve published an analysis of how dramatically you can turn the tables on your operator. the full blog is at http://forum.rebtel.com/wordpress/2007/03/20/the-great-minute-stealers-debate-rebtel-comes-clean/

what’s especially interesting is to compare tariffs from ten years ago and look how little things have moved on in mobile compared to practically any other.

please let us know your thoughts at http://www.rebtel.com

gustav leo

You guys should try our fonemine. jajah and rebtel don’t stand a chance. fonemine has 30 countries completely free of charge. You get to hear an ad for close to 15 seconds and then you can talk for 15 mins for free completely.
You can dial using web, WAP or sms. You can signup using all three methods too.

trulover

To add to the discussion, I have been using Jajah and a Rebtel Clone for a while until I came accross (( truphone )). I already had a WiFi / GSM phone as I liked the look and feel of the Nokia E60. Now what comes next is just short of stunning. — I always disliked Skype service for the same reason James mentioned above.

I have been using VoIP on my Nokia E60 for the last 75 days with the (( truphone )) client installed. I recently added up my bills and came to the following conclusing.

I have made 65 hours of mobile VoIP calls using the (( truphone )) client to many foreign locations (mobile and landline). My average per minute charge with all the free stuff they are giving away (FREE are most global landline calls) was 4.7 pence. WOW!!!! I used to be at 25 pence with my mobile network operator (due to the international and roaming stuff)! What a great saving…(I calculated my mobile savings will come to $6000 per year without the landline savings (have not even done the numbers)).

This stuff realy works once you manage to install it (can be still tricky but the team at truphone is first class and helped me out).

(( truphone ))on mobile when in WiFi range is just the best thing ever happening to me!!! Gentlemen forget landlines, get yourself a WiFi / GSM mobile like the Nokia E60 and your next family holiday can be paid from the savings on your mobile and landline bill.

this kills services like Jajah, Rebtel, Clones of any kind, Skype, gizmo, etc…

Alternative Energy Blog

I’m a user of both Jajah & Rebtel in my office.

I didn’t previously use Skype as I dislike using computer headsets (I much prefer my more expensive and much higher quality Plantronics telephone headset) even if I have to pay for the call (e.g. calling the U.S. is 2 pence per minute with an access number). I briefly tried Project Gizmo but disliked it for the same reasons as Skype.

My comments on Jajah and Rebtel.

Jajah is great for international calls to landlines (it’s expensive for calling international mobiles). Yes, you can get some great rates using calling cards/ access numbers (which I used previously) but Jajah is often 30%-70% cheaper and it remembers all my numbers making it very convenient. Open the website, 2 clicks and my phone is ringing with my contact on the other end.

Rebtel to me meets a niche need. That is calling international mobile numbers from my mobile (or a landline). If I called directly using my mobile it would cost 30 pence a minute. The Rebtel service at a dollar a week makes it very economical to call international mobiles if you have inclusive minutes on your mobile calling plan (to call the local access number). However Rebtel’s appeal is limited for the following reasons:

1)only relevant to a niche market (people who spend over a dollar a week calling international mobiles) AND who have inclusive minutes in their mobile plan

2)it’s complicated. you call your contact’s access number, they hang up and then call another access number

3)it has technical problems. the service worked great for a few weeks, however I’ve been unable to get it to work for the last few weeks despite repeated emails to Rebtel’s technical support.

So while Rebtel is (or rather was) saving me (as part of a niche market) some money, the convenience of Jajah makes me believe it has much wider appeal.

James
Alternative Energy Blog

Alex

true savings on mobile can only be achieved with WiFi, you are free to use / build your own network, most of your mobile calls are at home or in the office, sometimes in hotspots (most are FREE) , so why not follow the (( truphone )) track and go for a Nokia E60 E61. I think this is the future forward.

Arshad Merali

I use Jajah and find it to be very affordable and very convenient. I’m looking forward to using the mobile version on my Treo or Q.

Stefan Timm

There is a major diffence between markets like the US and China and the rest of the world.

The rest of the world has “calling party pays”. That means, a call to a mobile phone costs 10-20 cents a minute. Therefore a callback based service like JaJah does not make a lot of sense, especially for people how have a flatrate for outgoing cellular calls. Savings on extremely overprized international calls are better accomplished using a callthrough / calling card type of service and there are plenty. With my mobile (domeestic) flatrate I can call the US for 2 cents per minute from my cellphone.

For Rebtel the problem I see is that in countries, where it is easy to get a PSTN number for such a service, you won’t see high termination fees. Take a wholesale international price list and check it out.

SLT

Mats

Rebtel works great from both mobiles and fixed phones, I have even used it from a hotel phone, needed to login thou because the system couldn’t recognise that it was “me”.

/M

avior

I use jaja and am quite happy especially now with the mobile version – really great: easy to use, cheap and well designed and I am not part of the marketing staf :-)

Greg Spector

Om: I feel that I need to clarify a few things for your readers.

With Rebtel it’s up to you to ask your friends to call back. If you do, there’s no extra charge from Rebtel over the $1 per week. All you and your friends pay for is the local minutes to your carriers. If you don’t ask your friend to call back it’s just a super low cost per minute fee. But it’s your call.

Another thing that you forgot to mention is you only have to set up the local numbers once and we send those local numbers to your phones in text messages. Then you can save them in your phones’ address books and dial from your address books forever. And, that way you don’t have to remember the numbers.

On another front I think you’ve confused us with another service. With Rebtel you don’t have to wait 20 seconds for a computer to call you back. We connect you straight away. But don’t just take my word for it. You and all of your readers are welcome to send me your mobile phone numbers and we can make Rebtel calls while I’m in Stockholm this week. The email address is [email protected]

And I also think it’s important to note that Rebtel works with any mobile phone as long as it’s not broken. No software downloads.

Finally, the only money we’re “stealing” is the ghastly international fees charged by mobile carriers, and we’re giving them back to the consumers.

But as I said, it’s your call.

aswath

I don’t think these services impact the termination charges and so those governments (I think you are referring to those that have large termination fees) won’t even notice them. Jajah terminates the call at the called party’s country and so those countries continue to levy the usual termination charges. True that in the case of Rebtel, the two ends are made up of two outgoing calls, Rebtel can do these only in 30 countries. Indeed, they are those countries where telephony regulations are relaxed. For example, India is not one of them. This means India will continue to levy termination charges.

serop

Vikram: Can’t you see this is just another PR campaign?! ;)

Jajah (except the latest mobile calling feature) is not an innovator at all. Neither by rates, nor by the rest of the functionality. They are popped in the Business 2.0 issue too this month. Looks like their marketing guys are having a blast these days! LOL :)

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Michael,

Actually, this is an excellent post. This is the kind of stuff we readers like to get from you & Om, rather than just infomercials or rebroadcast of already published material in SJMN or WSJ.

I am with Om. Some of these companies question average IQ.

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Vikram

Jajah is very expensive compared to many of the calling cards available. I don’t know what the fuss is all about.

Eoin Purcell

JaJah is great for calls thats cannot be made over skype, say for instance I am in work and cannot use a headset or want some privacy. Skype in calls cost 16cent to my mobile in Ireland and JaJah costs 15 cent out so the difference over several twenty minute calls is worth the tiny hassle!

Really that’s the best way to use it, as a filler for that gap. Otherwise or if Skype make their prices cheaper I would stop using it!
Eoin

rick

Good post Om. I’m like you; these products may have good results, but it takes the techie and hoopla dance to get them to perform. Even I don’t subscribe to such nonsense.

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