MagicJack dials wrong number in legal attack on Boing Boing

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66 Responses to “MagicJack dials wrong number in legal attack on Boing Boing”

  1. bklynchris says:

    OK, Rob, you need to know that this bravura is to 40+ wannabe MILFs (such as myself/emphasis on wannabe), what motorcycles (and the boys that ride them ) are to 20 something hetero women, and Hedge Fund management is to same women in their 30′s.

    Kudos! My man. That was some Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon Robin Hood-ish legal defending on your part. Take that Happy Jack!

  2. bill_mcgonigle says:

    Barratry is a misdemeanor in California. How does this relate to a SLAPP case?

  3. Anonymous says:

    I bought this magicjack almost two years ago because they said as soon as they got Canadian numbers we will be given a local number. I have not been able to use this piece of garbage. The sound quality is really bad and now they want me to pay to get a Canadian number. They have $20 worth of credit in my long distance account and I cannot use this thing to call anywhere. They billed me for the 5 year platinum plan and now they want me to pay to for a new extension after almost 2 years.

    These people are thieves and we need to file a complaint with the FCC and the BBB>

  4. Anonymous says:

    my dad used to have a magicjack hooked to the usb on his laptop. it was so silly to see an old desk telephone hooked to the usb magicjack. but it was good and it worked. didn’t really know about all this shady nonsense about the EULA and that counter on the website. but i always thought it was a little flakey they had that promotional ad in the magicjack software when the ad was for itself from what i saw. and i thought it was flakey that counter on the website was keeping count of what they were selling. i always thought it was to mimic their tv informercials where they had a countdown on how many magicjacks they had left. i’m glad that i got my dad to switch to Skype. that magicjack device was an ugly little thing anyways.

  5. jacques45 says:

    Congrats! I’m sure $50k doesn’t mean much to them, but it’s a nice lesson for tying up the courts for meaningless lawsuits.

  6. dculberson says:

    “It also alleged that I am a professional blogger.”

    Talk about defamation! Sheesh.

  7. thebelgianpanda says:

    this kind of thing is quote scary. i’m glad BB is fighting the good fight and taking one for the team, but frankly these kind of stories make me feel less safe about blogging.

    as a small time blogger, if i was hit with a lawsuit over a post and the choice was $50k in legal fees vs. taking the post down, i think i know what most people (including myself) would do. i wouldn’t even know what lawyer to call even if i had the tenacity to fight back.

    all in all good stuff, but perhaps what would be even more valuable is some kind of guideline (since BB seems to be more experienced than most with this) of, “What to do when your blog has pissed off Big Company with Big Lawyers”.

    Keep up the awesome work!!

    • spocko says:

      As someone how HAS pissed off a big company with big lawyers (as well as big radio personalities) Disney/ABC/KSFO
      I strongly recommend you read the EFF guide for bloggers.

      And then join the EFF to support them. They defended me with the best lawyers in the country against saber rattling from Disney. They won. They also defended another group against Michael Savage. And won.

      In an era where corporations are seen as people but can’t go to jail, you need to be prepared.

  8. ill lich says:

    Isn’t there also a product called a “Magic Jack” that they sell in adult bookstores?

  9. Anonymous says:

    I liked your title better than Cory’s, Rob.

    Incidentally, the reason Comcast has an “F” with the BBB is because there is no grade worse than an “F”.

  10. T.Walt says:

    Glad to see you could not be bought. Too bad I cant say the same for the Better Business Bureau.

    tw

  11. Cildar says:

    It appears as though that company is having some difficulties. Can you keep us please let us know if you are ever able to collect the damages.

    In any event, thank you Boing Boing for taking this on.

  12. Dan Walsh says:

    So not only did they fail to cover up the initial issues, they actually added more fuel to the fire – hell of a job!

  13. MrGlowbug says:

    Congratulations BB on not letting magicJack (trademark spelling) silence you! I only resorted to trying it out for myself through desperation to avoid the ridiculously EXPENSIVE in-state charges from our “regulated” phone company. The device’s audio quality is fine as long as I stay away from ANY wireless connection (phone or internet) and I’ve been very happy with it. But maybe it’s time I shop around again; I don’t think I can support their tactics.

  14. TheCrawNotTheCraw says:

    1. I’m glad you wrote and BB published this article.

    2. “I also wrote that that MagicJack’s website contained a visitor counter that incremented automatically”

    Who cares? “Most” web developers know that they are useless/misleading/the mark of a “noob” or otherwise unsophisticated client.

    • Anonymous says:

      I care! I didn’t realize that counters were outdated (and why). That’s where journalists step in, to help fill in the blanks and present an objective picture for the spaz out there like me who doesn’t know everything. Not that I’m implying that you know everything ;)

    • Anonymous says:

      Damn, learn to read. They did nothing of the sort.

    • Anonymous says:

      You make your own point – web developers know that web counters are silly, but web developers are only a vanishingly small subset of MagicJack’s possible target market. Maybe your grandma knows enough not to be impressed by a high-numbered web counter, but mine doesn’t.

  15. Anonymous says:

    you know, they would have been better off contacting boingboing, explaining their side, and making revisions to their EULA and homepage counter. Just be honest people, after all “honesty is the best policy”.

    that said every review and forum I’ve found online praises the magicjack. As silly and gimmicky as it sounds, it might be worth the $1.67 a month to have a phone line in the house. Sure ya you can set this up through skype, but I haven’t found anything as easy as plug in USB, plug in phone, talk on phone, for less than $2/mo, have you?

    • Rob Beschizza says:

      Right. If MJ had contacted us, we would as a matter of course have added their response to the original post and corrected any errors (though there weren’t any, in this case). That it sued out of the blue, including threats of legal sanctions the law did not allow, demonstrates well the nature of a SLAPP lawsuit.

  16. sjfbarnett says:

    While I can only champion BoingBoing’s work against horrible EULA’s and uncovering heinous trickery, what caught my attention was your offer of not revealing the settlement amount if they donated to charity, yet you damn Borislow’s rebuttal offer.

    Was your offer not a form of blackmail? Does involving charity negate that definition?

    • tizroc says:

      I think by the definition what BJ (snicker… come on was I the only one?) was doing fits the definition of extortion. As for BB’s offer it would depend on which charity they were offering. If the charity was one of their own, which subsequently offered services of goods to them… then yes. However if it is a true third party of which BB receives no financial or “something of value” other than intrinsic value of helping or warm fuzzies… then they haven’t met the definition of blackmail.

  17. tizroc says:

    Please pay no attention to the BJ comment. I have no idea where that came from. Seriously.. I meant MJ for some reason I wrote the other.. (for some reason I kept calling it BlackJack… uhg) and well hilarity ensued at home. This is my apology. Sorry.

  18. Bitgod says:

    So this was really all Cory’s fault then? :)

    So is the BBB not to be trusted?

  19. Anonymous says:

    Way to go! In the end, BoingBoing took a small financial hit but the reputation damage done to MagicJack is probably worth more. I would think that companies would be more responsible, socially and otherwise, after the great economic collapse. It would seem the political tide has turned away from confidential settlements.

  20. johnofjack says:

    I bought one of these a couple of years ago when I was running win2000. It would not work on Windows 2000. I returned it with a terse note stating that it didn’t work with my OS and therefore I didn’t need it and expected a refund.

    They did refund the card promptly, which was nice, but I’m sorry to hear that so many others haven’t had that experience.

    I’m using Skype now, which has its own bag of problems….

  21. ADavies says:

    Good on ya for standing up to these litigious bullies. Justice grinds slow, but fine indeed.

  22. Phrosty says:

    At the time of its failing grade, however, Borislow dismissed the Better Business Bureau’s system as meaningless: “I have Comcast cable in my house; they are rated an F. I use Sprint on some of our phones; they are rated an F. My bank, who I have been with forever, Colonial Bancorp, is rated an F. The list is endless.”

    What’s his point? Correct me if I’m wrong, but all of the above are poor services, completely deserving of their ‘F’ status. I still use Sprint, but only because of a lack of options where I live. I am far from being a fan.

  23. SeattlePete says:

    “works very well” might be a stretch. I know I can’t be the only one here who read 2600 (http://www.2600.com/) the current Winter 2010 issue has a very good write up on the quality and limitations of the Magic Jack.

    I wonder if they too will get SLAPPed.

  24. ElfSternberg says:

    “It also alleges that I am a professional blogger.”

    And we can’t have that! No wonder you won.

  25. Mike says:

    Thank you for standing your point.
    I would like to add that I called Majicjack’s tech support for 6 times to fix a connectivity problem with no prevail. Than I asked for my 3 years subscription money back and they said no. Very poor, inefficient MJ tech support.

  26. Joel Johnson says:

    May I add my sincerest flapping body parts to the congratulatory symphony.

    I may.

  27. angusm says:

    Everything I knew about MagicJack before I read this article came from receiving spam promoting their product from affiliate spammers. Affiliate spammers are the guys who sign up to syndicated/affiliate marketing programs and then, instead of placing the links on websites as they’re supposed to, simply spam the crap out of the Internet at large and pocket whatever they earn on the click-thrus.

    This is in no way MagicJack’s fault, but I’ve noticed that there’s a weird overlap between companies that get advertised by the affiliate spammers and companies that subsequently turn out to be litigious, controversial or downright disreputable. It’s gotten to the point where if I get affiliate spam promoting some company I’ve never heard of, I automatically assume the worst of them – even though I know that they probably aren’t responsible for the spam.

    Anyway, I’m glad to hear that they got SLAPP’ed down. Whatever the merits of their product or their company, any company that responds to valid criticism with lawyer’s letters instead of attempting to address the problem is definitely overdue for an educational experience in the courts system.

  28. Anonymous says:

    MagicJack should sue itself for causing irreparable harm to their public image by filing ridiculous law suits and lobbying against free speech. Seriously, I’ve considered trying magic jack just to have a cheap home phone line but I think this lawsuit confirms that I should not support this company, let alone the whole spyware thing that would’ve also deterred me.

    Anyway, congrats on the victory, even though this should’ve never gone to court in the first place

  29. Anonymous says:

    Have you considered providing some kind of PayPal ‘tip jar’ so that regular readers (and perhaps a few irregular readers) can help offset some of these legal and other fees you incur?

    Plus, it’s only fair that those of us who frequently peruse your site contribute something, even if it’s just a few bucks, as it all adds up. But I don’t see a mechanism for paying (it may be where one creates an account, but my work blocks that page from launching). Might you add a donation link to your main page?

  30. Rob Beschizza says:

    I had a couple of pings from people who were under the impression we were offering to keep silent about the whole case if MJ would pay our legal bills. Not so: we explicitly turned down a “hush” settlement that would have covered the lot.

    So I’ve clarified that paragraph to make clear that was never on the table. The only thing we’d agree to on that front was to not reveal specifics about our legal costs, which didn’t seem important to the details of the case, if they’d punt a good-faith sum to charity on top of paying our bill (which we were legally entitled to recover in any case, as the victims of a SLAPP lawsuit). But MJ didn’t go for that idea; I understand that it was only interested in us not posting anything at all.

  31. Anonymous says:

    All of the negative reviews of Magicjack, plus things like this case have made me advise friends against using it, and choosing not to use it myself.

    Magicjack needs to address all the complaints and operate more on the up and up.

    If they did, they could easily charge a little more for their product and get it.

    They are leaving millions of dollars on the table out of short-sightedness.

  32. Anonymous says:

    “Rob Rader, Marc Mayer and Jill Rubin”

    sorry, i read that as rob radar, and then pictured him in costume.

    and shouldnt it be Jill Jubin to match the other two…

  33. Grey Devil says:

    Wow, it seems that MagicJack not only spies on it’s users but also rips them off. They also seem to constantly break the law or barely adhere to it, and somehow are able to get off the hook with no one bringing the issue to the public. Also the fact that they are very litigious (and frivolously so) against anyone that points out their scam.

  34. RebeccaGem says:

    Congrats on the win!

    I want to thank you for not accepting a settlement for silence and standing your ground! Thank you sharing the story, and for POSTING documents. As a blogger fighting a SLAPP of my own, this means a lot. I applaud the Court for slapping that bully with a DISMISSAL and FEES, but I also applaud you for being candid. It’s refreshing to read this from a non-lawyer point of view. Here’s to First Amendment rights and antSLAPP rules! Cheers!

  35. Anonymous says:

    Seems like this kind of false advertizing on TV is the kind of fraud that the FCC would stop. We haven’t experienced the 50 call limit on magicjack, but we have experienced the 90 minute limitation. We actually have 2 of these jewels. I like them, although I had to debug the conflict with ALG SIP on my router. To me, a 90 minute call is insanely long, even for a conference call, but to my wife, her mother, and her disfunctional employer, this is normal and calls can go on for hours.

  36. Anonymous says:

    At the end of the day we all have the right to spend our hard earned money as we see fit. Thank you for spending your money on this cause and having the value system of right versus wrong.

    We stand on the shoulders of those before us — thank you for continuing to do want is right. (even when being ‘offered’ a payoff)

  37. Anonymous says:

    I’ve been using Magic Jack for about a year and it works well. Got the idea from a friend who called me from her PC in China. There is a little bit of a delay that takes getting used to. Yes, it does make your computer take longer to boot up, but if you plan to use it for telephone service you generally expect to leave it on. They can advertise on the screen but I’ve never seen any ads besids using Magic Jack for calls to India.
    As for forced arbitration, credit card companies do the same thing, you see it everywhere, and it is a problem everywhere. Even Boingboing has a legal notice and terms of service.
    Perhaps articles like this one prompted them to clean up their act. Also, thanks for mentioning the alternatives.

  38. Anonymous says:

    yeah ..way to go …Im glad your so happy!! I dont give a crap if they spied on me, I was able to have phone service for practically nothing!! I tried to use my phone today and nothing!!! I tried to go to the website to see why I cant and NOTHING!!! Its sad because now all the people who NEEDED cheap phone service and could afford it otherwise (hense the economy SUCKS!!!) will prolly no longer have It!! Yes Congrats =0/

  39. DarthVain says:

    I paraphrase:

    Captain Marvel: “You’ve never been very good against Magic Superman and Magic is what I am all about!”

    Ya let me tell you how that ends…

    Superman wearing a Captain Marvel suit is how.

  40. ivankb says:

    Good job!
    How about also exposing the law firms that take on this kind of action.
    They are arguably as much if not more at fault for frivolous suits like this as the silly complaints are.
    At least I’d like to see their name included prominently, which would hopefully embarrass them.

  41. warrenEBB says:

    scientifiction idea:
    Wouldn’t it be great if someone would invent a freely available “lawyer” program, to cut down on these ridiculous legal fees and let people defend themselves?

    Maybe it sounds silly(? I’ve never been in court). but when i read that “SLAPP Lawsuits” are a known practice nowadays, I can’t think of anything more worthwhile. Isn’t most of a fat/rich lawyers job focused on procedure and being aware of tons of past trials?

    Has anyone written a book/blog that already covers this idea?

    • Felton says:

      That’s a good idea, kind of like programs that help with taxes. A database of law books and previous legal cases would be worthwhile alone, but I’d want the robot version that could show up in court with me, programmed with the personality of Spencer Tracy.

    • unit1421 says:

      warrenEBB: No one has every challenged the legal system here on it nationwide price-fixing schemes, carried out by the state bar associations who dictate what lawyers must charge for things to keep their licenses. Lawyers must either charge the bar minimum, or MORE, or work for free or on contingency for upwards of 40% of a settlement in civil cases. Also, Pro bono is abused as a SLAPP tactic, as defendants in civil cases don’t have the right to demand pro-bono counsel if the plaintiff has it.

      • Anonymous says:

        1. About 50 years ago, state bar associations tried to fix prices. Since then it’s been unethical and illegal. I don’t know where you got this from. I am an IP attorney who has been practicing 27 years. Fees are a lot more competitive than what you are going to see out of your doctor or hospital!

        2. Congratulations BoingBoing! And what the Anti-SLAPP statute does is “fee shift”, a/k/a “The English Rule” a/k/a “loser pays.” If all lawsuits were this way (as they are in England) there would be many fewer of them! I think they should be the rule, not the exception. But then I am not a member of the plaintiff’s contingency fee bar (e.g. John Edwards), which is probably what you think when you say “lawyers.”

        3. But the First Amendment in this country is way stronger than anywhere else, including the UK. So it should continue.

        – Jeff Perkins

  42. Anonymous says:

    u guys are full of it
    don’t expect to see this posted, but heh someone has to call u on it…what a croc..get a real blog

  43. Anonymous says:

    I think it is very interesting that MagicJack’s BBB rating went from “F” to “A-” after the company joined them. It emphasizes what I’ve been saying for years; the BBB’s primary business is NOT protecting consumers, it is getting and keeping paying members.

  44. Anonymous says:

    Want to know what the greatest part is? The company is supposedly selling ads based on the numbers you call, but according to the lawsuit they filed in 2009, “the only advertisements that MagicJack displays in conjunction with the MagicJack device are advertisements for the features of the magicjack device.”

    They haven’t even sold any ads yet?!?

  45. Anonymous says:

    Bot MJ last week. It works BUT: If you have a Mac you will have to set it up (to get your phone #) on a pc to get your phone#, 2nd the Call Display does not work on a phone using a Mac. Same for VM, both only show up on the computer. Canadian users are charged an extra $10 for the unit (49.95) PLUS an additional $10 per year for a Cdn. phone #. NONE of this is mentioned in the ads nor in the material with the unit. Fraud!!!!!!! Disgusting show of a scam!!

  46. Anonymous says:

    I was looking at magic jack and started reading it’s limitation. As a techie I understood them and was ok with them. Until I started reading the monitoring and lack of support on other sites. I decided not to buy one. Now that I read this site and the tactics this company will go to, I will suggest to other people not to purchase one.

  47. Anonymous says:

    Yet another reason to love Boing Boing!

  48. badlysocialized says:

    This is lovely news, but I was a little shocked to hear that you use MS&K as your law firm. These folks are the ultimate intellectual property maximalists.

    As but one example, take Steve Metalitz, counsel to the IIPA. They’re made up of seven member organizations – the RIAA, MPAA, BSA, etc. He recently argued that the Copyright Office shouldn’t allow an exemption to removing DRM from music when the sellers take their DRM authentication servers down.

    They are a firm for the very wealthy – they do labor law, but only for management. Bankruptcy laws, but only for creditors. Etc. Why did you choose them as your attorneys?

  49. Anonymous says:

    Amazingly, many “experts” rate the MagicJack device positively. They play with it for a bit, and then decide it’s a great product.

    Unfortunately for those of us in the real world, these “experts” aren’t always wise enough to offer the consumer valuable advice. Magicjack is a perfect example of this.

    HERE’S THE ROOT OF MAGICJACK’S TECHNICAL PROBLEMS:

    A consumer’s MagicJack device will route its signals through the nearest MagicJack server. These servers experience different levels of activity at different times.

    Many of these servers are not capable of handling heavy traffic. Obviously the MagicJack organization did not anticipate the amount of traffic these servers would have to handle, and for many markets (like Las Vegas), during peak call times — like the weekend, holidays, etc — calls are dropped, become choppy and lose sound quality. These decreases in quality and terminations of calls are the servers’ way of handling the unexpectedly high traffic.

    Remember what happened to AOL in the 90s? They became so popular their dial-up locations couldn’t handle the traffic. Many would set up their modems to attempt the maximum 25 call-ins, still not get through, and start the whole dial-up attempt all over again. Eventually, customers got fed up with not being able to even connect to the internet during peak times, and went elsewhere.

    MAGICJACK, listen up: you’re headed the same way AOL went. UPGRADE YOUR SERVERS.

    ..!..

  50. Anonymous says:

    Should’ve sued you in England.

    The 5-Star libel tourism hotel on The Strand is still open for business: you can still be sued, closed down and bankrupted by any corporation with sufficient money.

    And, eventually, you will be.

  51. John G says:

    SLAPP legislation has come a long way. It used to protect the right to petition, or at least the right to say things to public authorities. But if the ‘public interest’ includes reviews of software, then it basically takes over the law of defamation.

    Don’t get me wrong. I think that there should be a fast way to get the merits of a lawsuit looked at, and the idiotic ones like this one dismissed with prejudice to the plaintiff, like a costs award. I am just surprised a bit to see it described as a SLAPP. However, the judge didn’t seem to have any trouble with finding that it was.

  52. Anonymous says:

    Love how nettalk advertises next to the article!

  53. Anonymous says:

    The only thing you got wrong is that “MagicJack works very well.” I don’t know what dongle all the tech reviewers were using when they tested MagicJack and raved about it, but its call quality is atrocious. We tried it for a year. NOt only could we barely hear those we called, but MagicJack routinely dropped calls. And the quality was too poor to ever successfully use MagicJack to send a fax (the original reason for purchasing the device). Oh, and it grossly lengthened computer reboot time as it highjacked the startup process. All in all, super lame product.

    • Andoy says:

      Congrats to BB on their win. An earlier post made a comment on the MJ website phone number which I have tried to call and it basically goes nowhere.
      BUT, I bought one 18 months ago and have been using here in the Philippines and for me at least it has worked great. It has definitly paid for itself many times over.
      Of course I would love to hear of other devices to use.

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