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Beware of VoIP Reviews: Introductory Pricing

by Kevin Bartley

Here are five signs that the introductory pricing displayed on a VoIP review site is inaccurate.

Published: June 7, 2016

The sheer number of VoIP review sites online today is astounding. But make no mistake: these VoIP review sites are not always objective sources of information. The reviews are helpful, but the information offered about the services can sometimes be inaccurate. 

It's only natural to first look at pricing when you're browsing a VoIP review site. You may notice the higher priced services and ignore them. But the introductory prices on these VoIP review sites are often misleading. Just because a service is listed at a lower price doesn't mean that you'll actually end up paying that much.

How do you discern fact from fiction when it comes to VoIP review pricing? Here are five signs that introductory pricing plans on a VoIP review site are priced inaccurately.   

(Notice: no providers or VoIP review sites have been mentioned by name.)

1. Every Service Costs the Same

Same price review site
If you see that every company has prices within a few cents of each other, it's a sign that the pricing might be off.

Some VoIP review sites list every introductory pricing package at a uniform price, usually $19.99. In case you were wondering, all the VoIP packages on the market are not priced the exact same way. And pricing for a VoIP service rarely costs a flat $19.99.

Those uniform introductory prices you see on the VoIP review page are cherry picked. $19.99 is simply the competitive pricing benchmark in the industry nowadays. All the VoIP providers on the review sites advertise their services around that amount, even though you're likely to pay a higher price. 

Setup fees and rate/min are sometimes listed underneath the pricing for each service. The "setup fee" is almost always free, but does not include potential costs such as new phones or porting fees. The rate/min is the cost you'll pay per calling minute. Most providers will list this at zero dollars under their unlimited plan. If you're not looking for unlimited calling minutes, you'll be paying for them at a higher rate. These numbers are generally used as psychological tactics to make you think you're getting a bargain.

2. Misleading or Incomplete Information

Misleading Monthly Price
The price above is not labeled per user per month (/seat/month). Rather, it seems as if the entire monthly bill costs $19.99.

The introductory prices listed on these VoIP review sites are referring the to the cost per seat per month, not the overall per month cost. Take the number of seats on your phone system and multiply it by the price given by the review page. The resulting number is the bare minimum your business will pay for phone service, although the actual price is much likely higher.

An important distinction that these review sites often fail to make is the difference between a seat and a user. A seat is an individual line or registered device on a phone system that can make inbound/outbound calls. A user is a user account on the phone system. So you might have 15 users in the office, but you actually need 20 seats to accommodate your conference room phones, intercom, etc. The prices listed on VoIP review sites are always priced per seat. 

3. The Fine Print Keeps On Coming*

Fine PrintVoIP companies usually make an effort to engineer viable introductory pricing plans for the review page. In other words, they're not lying to you about the price. They're just jiggering with the facts. That's where the fine print comes into play.

The little asterisks on a VoIP review site are always worth reading. That's where you'll find out more about taxes, fees, and other restrictions that will raise the advertised price. In the fine print, it's not uncommon to find out that the listed price is only available through pricing plans that the average sized business is unlikely to use.

Here's an example from one site:

*Rates shown do not include E-911 charges, taxes, and surcharges. Most providers offering unlimited calling have restrictions and some rates shown are promotional rates based on term contracts or promotional periods. Be sure to read individual providers terms and conditions before you buy. Rates and features displayed for each provider have been sourced from provider's site and other online sources. While we strive to display current information, be sure to check directly with each provider as their plans, pricing, and features are subject to change.

There is usually more fine print on each individual provider's site. Note that "unlimited" pricing does not mean completely unfettered minutes. Restrictions on "excessive usage" and additional surcharges can be found in the Terms and Conditions of a provider's website. Make sure you read through these to get a better idea of your actual costs.

4. Packages Priced for High User Count  

Top statementBottom fine print

Many of the pricing packages on a VoIP review site are intended for high volume users, not small and medium sized businesses. In the above image, the fine print reveals that the $19.99 price only exists for multi-line packages. After browsing the company's site, the standard package actually comes out to $39.99.

Here's the fine print for a few leading providers on a popular VoIP review site: 

  • lowest effective per user price 
  • $9.99/mo. is per user price for 100+ users  

For example, if your medium sized business has 50 users, it's ineligible for the $9.99 per user per month package. Only large businesses of 100+ users will have access to the $9.99 price that's publicly advertised.

5. Concerning Reviews

Pros Cons VoIP
Any mention of pricing problems in a review should be taken as a red flag

In our blog post about virtual phone system reviews, we examine some common red flags on VoIP review sites. Customers that complain of pricing woes are signs that the prices on the VoIP review page should be double checked.

Beyond pricing, reviews about being stuck in a contract, dealing with nightmare cancellations, and complaints about lots of down time are all issues you should seriously consider before forking over your money for a VoIP service.

VoIP Reviews: Supplements, Not Guides

VoIP review sites are great starting points. Many of the reviews on the site are candid and informative about the experiences users have with popular VoIP phone systems. However, it's important to keep in mind that most VoIP services on these review pages are paying for page space on the site. The official information presented is handpicked by the companies themselves.

In order to use these sites effectively, it's important to do your own thorough research. Never take the introductory pricing on a VoIP review site at face value. If you're interested in a VoIP service, contact them and get a direct quote to find out how much you'd pay under its pricing plan. Supplement your findings with the information on a VoIP review page, but don't base your entire search for a phone system off of it.

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