Call Like Magic

Posted: January 1, 2014  |  Tag: Miscellaneous

By: John Temple

When I am out of the country, I find that some of the 800 numbers will not work outside the U.S. We travel to both Mexico and Canada. Is there a way to get phone service outside the U.S. that gives a U.S. CLID?
We were just up in Canada and had trouble with our DirecTV. We use an old standard satellite dish mounted on a downrigger mount on the rail. We were starting to get a message on the TV that said we needed to change our receiver or we would lose service. The message did not say when, and being that we were in Canada, we couldn’t do it for a month or two. We have had other times when we needed to call an 800 number outside the country, and there was no way to get through. Interestingly, DirecTV doesn’t provide a non-toll-free number. The folks there don’t want you to be able to reach them outside the U.S.

Fortunately, I had gone to the U.K. last summer and bought a device called Magic Jack before I went. Once you purchase the device, annual calling is just $20-$30/month in the U.S. Since it simulates being in the U.S., your incoming and outgoing calls are from an available number you designate. Because I live in Seattle, I picked a 206 number. While in the U.K., all my calls were free to the U.S. and Canada — as if I were calling from the 206 area code. Magic Jack plugs into a USB port on a PC, or you can plug it into an AC outlet and an Ethernet port with no PC. Then, just plug a regular phone into it or a headphone with MIC on your PC. The audio on Magic Jack is great, and it uses very little Bandwidth. I can dial a U.S.-only 800 number.

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