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Virtual PBX

We recently introduced a virtual PBX into our business. The system from 800PBX.com provides us with a toll free number, together with a local fax number. I have initially opted for their lowest cost option ($14.99) per month, this means that since a fax number is included, it is almost cheaper than what I used to pay eFax just for their fax service. $14.99 doesn’t get you that many minutes, but it is a good place to start and you can always upgrade later.

In choosing 800PBX I looked at several competitors. They were all more expensive and some did not allow me to have a number in my area code (858) so they were not an option for us.

There are many really cool things that I like about this service including:

  • You can set up several extensions (for people or departments, e.g. sales). Each virtual extension can be associated with several phone numbers (e.g. your cell number, office number, home number, a partners cell phone number). these numbers can be chnaged, if required, and the updates kick-in immediately Once someone calls your 800PBX number the system is set up with two options. Either it will hunt for you, trying each of the numbers you set up in turn, or it will call all the numbers at once.
  • You can have the system get the caller to announce themselves. The system then plays back the name to you so that you can decide whether to take the call or send it to voicemail.
  • When you get a voicemail you get an e-mail notification. You can then listen to the voicemail by dialing into the virtual PBX or you can log into your 800PBX account on the Web an hear the message on your computer.
  • You get several professionally recorded messages as standard as well as on-hold music. You also get one free message recorded by a voiceover artiste (although in our case he mispronounced Sian, which was predictable, I suppose). You can also record your own message and upload them to the system (I use Audacity and I had to try a few settings before this worked correctly).
  • The message callers hear depends on whether it is business hours or not (you set your business hours within your control panel).
  • Received faxes are delivered by email.
  • The system means that you can always be available to potential customers, wherever you are.

There are too many great benefits and features to describe in detail. If you are interested in trying the system you get a 15 day free trial by clicking here.

  1. 800PBX
    800PBX04-16-2008

    Thank you. I am glad you liked 800PBX’s services.

    We have a beta with lot more features in near future. Also, our free consumer product 800Genie has all advanced features such as reading email, tracking calendar etc.

    Thank you again for writing such a wonderful review.

  2. Scott
    Scott05-11-2008

    My personal experience isn’t as grand as yours.
    -Calls are muffled, obviously routed through a 3rd world country and VOIP. Their cost is almost nothing per minute yet they charge more than most competitors at $14.99 for their minimal plan.
    I chose them as they stated on their site they offered a free ADDITIONAL local number.
    When I inquired, and asked to verify that it was free, I was told YES it was – then was billed and told it wasn’t.

    That didn’t make me happy.

    And the few clients I’ve given the 800 number to, have stated numerous times they receive a busy/reorder tone when they attempt to call, long periods of pausing or are just hung up on.

    When they do make it in, I tell them I’ll call them right back as usually they are on cell phones, and my 800 forwards to a cell phone. The quality in these instances is SO bad that you sound like you are on mars!
    My business line forwarding doesn’t sound anything like this. Using copper of course.

    Faxing. If you have a small unimportant fax, it will probably go through …..or it may not.
    I’ve yet to receive confirmation for several faxes I know went through properly, then received confirmation for several faxes that did NOT go through.
    These are mega complex fax recipients, and their system is flawless.
    Using my telephone line and fax at home/office – I have never lost a fax until using this service.
    So again – another portion of the service that I don’t use.

    About the only reason I am keeping the service right now is because I am waiting for one client to call me back with an answer to a quote that only has my 800 number. After that, I’ll be switching to a bigger company that uses equipment based in the united states or, at least something that uses copper lines. Even if I have to pay more…it’s better than wondering if your service is going to work.

    Based on my estimation – the service works 75% of the time.

    That’s VERY VERY bad. Anything less than 98% is unacceptable to most people.

  3. martyn.whittaker
    martyn.whittaker05-11-2008

    Scott,

    I got a 1 877 number plus a local number that I use for fax. I have tested the phone line periodically and my experience has been:

    1. I recorded some outgoing messages and attempted to record them to the specific audio standard that 1800PBX require. I guess that my files were not to the exact standard and the result was that when you dialled my number, you heard nothing – it seemed like the call wasn’t connecting. It seems that the algorithm by which they filter audio is very picky. This is an area where there could be some improvement. I have now recorded a message over the phone and it works fine (although it doesn’t sound as good).

    2. The service has been down once in about 3 months. I noticed, called the help line. They called me back quickly and the problem was rectified within an hour with the assurance that it wouldn’t happen again.

    I haven’t tested the fax too much. I previously used eFax which was very reliable, but (when I started using it about 5 years ago) it was by no means perfect.

    The quality of calls has been fine for me. I have calls forwarded to a cell phone (TMobile).

  4. 800PBX
    800PBX06-16-2008

    Scott,

    We have the lowest cost policy at 14.99 at 150 mins. Also, we do not route the calls outside US.

    Yes, we do offer a free local number. Our system provides one free of cost which is inbuilt in the service. I haven’t seen anyone else complain of being double billed on this.

    And the few clients I’ve given the 800 number to, have stated numerous times they receive a busy/reorder tone when they attempt to call, long periods of pausing or are just hung up on.

    >> This can never happen or I haven’t seen it happening to anyone. We have leased line from one of the biggest carriers and probably unique is providing simultaneous channels to toll-free numbers unlike the competitors.

    The quality is the best of the norms we have. Is it possible for you to share a call recording. We provide call recording free of cost. This will help us in determining where it was/is going wrong with your system.

    I can provide you a free line and many recordings we have.

    Thanks.

  5. Scott C
    Scott C07-04-2008

    Different Scott here but I have same concerns as the one above.

    I am not writing this as a be all end all review of 800pbx, but these are my impressions so far and I haven’t even placed an order yet.

    I was looking for reviews on 800PBX as I am currently with another provider, but I now need the ability to record my calls. That has narrowed my available choices down considerably.

    The problem I have seen with most reviews out there is that they are affiliates of 800PBX.com like this one. Meaning the site owner gets money for every sign up or even perhaps every click. So that makes me doubt the original posters comments.

    I have some questions and to be honest the 800PBX website is horrible from a Q&A standpoint. To not even have a FAQ on a website is unheard of in this day and age. I have had to transfer my 800# numerous times when I have switched providers. So I was wanting to see the help section on how your company handles it. (send in copy of current bill with form, time to transfer etc etc) No Faq so I’m out of luck.

    I figured if I signed up it would ask me if I had a 800# already and then guide me from there. It did have a link to download the form, but has absolutely NO instructions on how to fill out the form.

    I’ve transferred my 800# 3 times. The 800PBX form is the most plain and hard to read form I’ve had to download. You can’t type in the PDF, you have to fill it in by hand, yet no lines are given to help keep things orderly.

    The Live Help is very poor as well. A while back I got ahold of a complete idiot who took well over 5 minutes to answer my question about what format the recorded calls are stored in. After 5 minutes he came back with this answer:

    “Sir they are stored in audio format.”

    lol

    Now I just chalked that up to every company out there has at least one idiot employed. So I thought I would try again, and so far every single time I try to get live help this week I have gotten the old “Unfortunately, our Live Help staff are currently unavailable.” Even though it is within operational hours listed on the website.

    So far my impression is the utter lack of support. It just blows me away. I’m not saying you have to have tip top support like ring central does. (Ring Central has the most impressive support system I have seen out of all the virtual pbx companies I’ve been with.)

    So I’m doubting the support, now after reading the previous Scott’s post Im doubting the call quality. I hope to god all those recorded files on 800pbx site arent from there phone lines, I have never heard such static and lisp filled recordings.

    I am thinking about ditching the virtual PBX companies all together and building my own asterisk based rig. Or perhaps just investing ina really good recording program and route all end calls to the server, but then of course I would be screwed if Im routing to cell phone etc..

    Scott did you ever provide them with a recording and get your quality issue resolved?

    I would just try them and get my money back if service is poor, but with me transferring a number it could take up to 3 weeks for the transfer and then I would only have a week left to evaluate the service.

    I’ve also been looking at Kall8. I’ve found quite a few positive reviews of Kall8 that have no affiliate code so it is a more reputable review. They are a little higher. Way cheaper on the plan but higher in minute rates. I am slow in the summer and super busy in winter. So as long as I found an alternative by october I would be ok and would spend no more or even less money than I pay now.

    I’ll keep checking back and see if any more people post up experiences. And If I end up trying 800PBX Ill definately come back and write a follow up.

    Scott C

  6. martyn.whittaker
    martyn.whittaker07-04-2008

    I didn’t realize about the affiliate links making my original review seem contrived (duh!), so I have removed them.

    I still really like the service (or maybe the CONCEPT of the service) – although there are a things that are not perfect – none of which are killers, just slightly annoying.

    My ‘out of hours’ message started occurring during business hours. I never got a satisfactory answer from support as to why this was happening (supposedly something to do with time zone and summer time) – but I couldn’t risk having the out of hours message using business hours so I adjusted the times to make my business day ‘start’ really early.

    My account seems to say that I have nearly gone over my minutes all the time – even at the beginning of a period. This was supposedly something to do with me paying for half a year in advance. It hasn’t resulted in me being cut off, though.

    You get a ‘free’ message recorded by a voice over artiste. Mine sounded great, but the voice over person mispronounced one of our names. I asked support for it to be redone – and never heard anything.

    The hold music is awful – and you can’t do anything about changing it, as far as I can tell.

    I have not had any problems with voice quality and faxes seem to work fine.

    I think that if 800pbx ramped up their support quality and took care of all the niggly little issues, the service would be a bargain.

    There is open source software out there so that you could run your own Linux box based PBX. I’d love to hear if anyone has done this successfully.

  7. Scott C
    Scott C07-05-2008

    martyn,

    Please don’t take my comments about affiliate reviews negatively. Going back over and reading it again, it doesn’t come off sounding like I meant it to sound when I typed it lol

    Your review covered several valid points for your business model. Such as the efax comparison, the local area code not being offered by other carriers etc You did mention the mispronounciation of a name and the problems you had with audio uploads.

    Please don’t remove your affiliate code either, this review is taking up disk space and bandwidth and that costs money. I have nothing against affiliate reviews, my main point was that probably 90% of the info I have read on 800PBX has affiliate codes tied to it, which just means I have to keep that in mind when looking at reviews. The few Ive seen for 800PBX that don’t have affiliate links have been pretty negative.

    But back on topic.

    I have been looking at asterisk based platforms, and also Fonality setups. The price is high for start up, but during the winter months I spend easily 300-500 a month on 800# charges. After the first winter the machine would be paid off, and then every year after that Id save money by just having to pay for multiple voip lines/trunks.

    Hear is another thing that makes me worry. yesterday I perused the “testimonial” section and most of those testimonials sound bloated. I wanted to talk to one of these guys and I have a friend in Colorado. I called her up and asked her to look in her phone book and find me this alveraz guy. She can’t find him, but one of her friends works with the bar association and that she would call her. Turns out she cant find him ever registering with the bar association and she has never herard of him personally either.

    So I start looking up other businesses from their testimonials, I can’t find a website, corp record etc for 99% of thos businesses. And the ones that say what city and state they are in, I cant find them in the phone book either.

    Now I obviously don’t have proof that the testimonials are fake. But if they arent in the yellow pages or on the web how are CUSTOMERS finding their super duper 800PBX 800# in the first place? Sounds fishy to me.

    To be fair I did the same thing to all the testimonials on ring centrals and Kall8’s sites. And I found either a website or at least a yellow page listing for 90-100% of all the companies listed in their testimonials.

    Now back to the issues. my main concern of course is call quality and uptime.

    After that comes support. I have already experienced some pretty crappy support from them. no info on website, absent Live chat etc..

    I also really really hope they don’t outsource their help to India, that is a deal breaker for me right there. I buy my computers from a local company so I have 100% US based support.

    I have nothing against India personally but any idiot whether Indian or American can read a troubleshooting script from a monitor. The whole thing hinges on the language barrier. All to save a buck. I was an avid Dell fan for years until they outsourced. thankfully the local company I use now hires home based Americans for their tech support. Its still cheaper than a brick and mortar call center but they dont have furious customers who cant understand the tech support.

    I guess I’m going to have to try 800PBX so I can find out for myself. Evaluate every single feature and make up some phony tech support problems to see how good the support is once your a paying customer.

    It will severely suck however to wait 2-4 weeks for my number to be transferred to 800PBX and then if I dont like them wait another 2-4 weeks for it to be transferred to kall8.

    Again thx for the input martyn, go ahead and put back up your affiliate link. If I end up trying them you could earn some money to cover your bandwidth etc..

    Scott C

  8. Chris
    Chris07-28-2008

    I have the same issue with needing Virtual PBX with call recording. The service I use now is TollFreeMax.com

    Sometimes I like them, sometimes I don’t and recently I’ve been trying to find a replacement, one with better customer service and more reliable service overall. However I can’t find another company that looks good that also offers call recording.

    PROs
    1) Can call 24/7 and get a representative who can usually help. The ones in the off hours are overseas, but during normal business hours, you will get an american.
    2) Service is usually pretty reliable. Though today they had a server restart and my service was down for about 3 hours. This doesn’t seem to happen very often.
    3) They do Call Recording of incoming calls that are e-mailed to me. This is a really big deal for me, I can’t imagine hiring someone to answer the phones for you and not wanting this feature, which astounds me that more providers don’t offer it.
    4) Price seems to be pretty good, but in this case better service is worth more money because I pay much more for my customers than for call minutes.

    CONs
    1) This is a really BIG problem – Even though I had an active credit card on file, they shut down my number twice without any notification. It had something to do with their billing system. But at any time they could have charged my credit card for the money they needed. I told them this and they said it can only charge my card once a month. I don’t know about you other business owners, but shutting down my number without warning creates massive problems.
    2) Have to press *3 for recordings of outgoing calls.
    3) Web interface is horrible, it works, but its completely rediculous how bad it is. Also, if you enter in some data in a way that it doesn’t like, your whole line won’t work. Whenever I call them, I always ask “When are you guys going to fix your ghetto web interface” they always know what I’m talking about.

  9. Techietype
    Techietype08-08-2008

    You should try GotVmail or EasyOfficePhone.com. EasyOfficePhone has worked great for us, and they actually provide voip service with SIP phones!!! Check them out. I had 800PBX a while ago, but it was so bad that we left within 3 days.