BasicTalk Review – Is it Effective?
Rating: 3.0/5 stars
If you are not satisfied with your current telephone landline and you would like to give VoIP services a try, BasicTalk is one of the alternatives you will surely come across sooner or later. It is a VoIP telephone service launched in May 2013, by Vonage Holdings Corp.
Designed as a cheap alternative to landlines, this service offers unlimited calls to numbers located in the USA. Its features compare more favorably to landlines than to a classic VoIP service. It targets people who need a cheap, simple, straightforward residential telephone service, and it is the less-than-half-price alternative to Vonage, the premium VoIP phone service offered by the same provider.
The company behind BasicTalk is an internet telephony service provider that targets both residential and commercial users. Its beginnings can be traced back 15 years ago, and its headquarters are located in Holmdel, NJ.
Approaching 3 million subscribers, Vonage reported approximately the company recently expanded its presence to the B2B market. Its reputation is quite solid, and its Better Business Bureau rating is quite promising, A+.
VoIP stands for Voice over Internet Protocol and represents a type of phone connection that uses the Internet to make or receive calls. This protocol started replacing traditional landlines a few years ago, gaining popularity and spreading nationwide relatively fast.
Just like any other VoIP service, this one uses your Internet connection to make unlimited calls on US territory. The equipment is available for sale on the official website, but also at third party distributors, like Amazon. The subscription costs $9.99 per month, plus state taxes.
Compared to other competitive services, it comes with free equipment and only involves a monthly subscription of $9.99 plus taxes. Having no minimum contractual period, it does not have early termination fees either, and it allows users to keep their previous phone number if they wish, without additional costs.
How BasicTalk Works?
All you need in order to start using this service is a decent Internet connection (cable or DSL, no slow connections such as dial-up), a router, your credit card information, a touch-tone telephone, and a physical address. The starter kit is available for free on the official website.
As far as the equipment setup is concerned, you should be able to figure out what it takes when you receive the kit. All you need to do is remove the box from the package, connect it to your router using the enclosed cable, and connect the phone to it. Plug in the box, activate the service, and you are good to go.
The BasicTalk unit can only support one phone at a time. This shouldn’t be a problem for modern touch-tone phones, as you can connect several handsets to the same base station. Older models, however, may not represent a viable solution for spacious homes, where more than one handset is desirable.
In order to start using this service, you’ll first have to place an order. You will have the opportunity to choose whether to get a new phone number or keep the existing one. If you go for the second option, you will need to fill in the Number Transfer Authorization, which takes between 7 and 10 days to process.
Keep in mind that you’ll only be able to fully use BasicTalk after the number transfer is complete. To avoid interruptions, you may want to keep your previous service until the new one becomes fully available, and only then interrupt it. The final steps of the sign-up process involve providing your billing information. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact customer service.
When you make a call, the box digitizes the analog signal provided by the telephone and sends it online. The analog signal is converted to a digital signal with the help of codecs. The router then transmits digital data in the form of data packets on the Web.
At the other end of the line, the data packets reach another converter that uses similar codec technology to turn them from digital to analog. Then, the analog signal reaches the touch-tone handset, closing the data circuit.
- Basic VoIP technology;
- Simple equipment kit provided for free and easy to install;
- Unique $9.99 monthly subscription that can be canceled anytime;
- Ensures high sound quality, caller ID, voicemail, call waiting and 911 dialing;
- Possibility to keep the old phone number;
- Customer support available by live chat between 9:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. EST and by email;
- Helpful articles and tutorials available on the official website.
BasicTalk Pricing and Refund Policy
As mentioned above, the only price customers have to cover is the monthly subscription. It is of $9.99, but another 2 or 3 dollars may add as state taxes. Since the subscription does not involve a minimum contract period, it can be canceled anytime, at no cost.
The equipment can be found on Amazon as well, its price starting at $24.45, with one month of service included. If you choose to order it through the official website, the service provider delivers if free of charge. The delivery usually takes 4 or 5 days and requires that you pay $9.99 upfront for the first month of service.
Vonage also offers refunds during the first week of activation, with no early termination fees involved. This policy contributes to the company’s reputation and the service’s success, considering that many other VoIP operators have additional fees related to service cancellation.
- This service is a suitable solution for people looking for a basic, cheap VoIP subscription, but who still want access to features like caller ID, voicemail, call waiting and emergency services.
- It has a very affordable and simple pricing policy, with no commitments or termination fees for users to worry about.
- New users have the option to keep their current phone number. Keep in mind, the Number Transfer Authorization may take up to 10 days to process, so you may want to contact the service before canceling your old one.
- Call quality with BasicTalk is about the same as that provided by standard landline services, so, by switching to this service, you cut costs without compromising quality.
- The official website provides detailed tutorials and troubleshooting guides. Also, live chat is available on weekdays between 9 am and 9 pm EST. Customer service is also reachable by Email.
- The company offers refunds during the first week of service to unsatisfied customers, which is unbelievable, considering the lack of further fees or termination costs.
- International calls are not available, the service is currently limited to US calls.
- Only the most basic features are included. For example, those interested in call forwarding will have to give compromise or keep looking. Other VoIP services include over 40 features but at a higher price.
- There are no mobile services available yet.
- The service does not officially support fax, although tests showed that it works with some fax machines. Since troubleshooting for individual fax machines is not available, relying on BasicTalk for faxing may be a hit and miss situation.
- Phone customer support is sales oriented. Tech support is only available via live chat or Email and is not 24/7. Live chat is only functional during weekdays, between 9 am and 9 pm EST. Compared to competing services, customer support could use some improvement.
- Some complaints refer to choppy audio quality and dropped calls, although this is a common issue for most VoIP providers nowadays. The cause is usually the Internet connection issues, so it would be unfair to blame it all on the VoIP provider’s fault.
BasicTalk Customer Feedback
The service received mixed customer feedback. When referring to positive aspects, customers praise the ease of installing and the streamline service activation. Most reviewers claim to have received their starter pack within 3 days from ordering it on the provider’s official website. This is a strong point, considering that the official delivery time estimate is of 5 days.
The good price to quality ratio is another positive aspect emphasized by consumers, some stating that service quality is better than with their previous provider and the prices are more convenient. Others recount to have been using BasicTalk for years without problems and they strongly recommend it to others.
Among the most appreciated features of the service seems to be the possibility of listening to one’s voice messages online, after logging in to one’s account. The provider offers valuable information, like incoming call records, caller ID, date and time.
On the negative side, the most prevalent issue seems to be canceling the service. This is rather surprising, considering that the company advertises easy cancellation procedures involving no hidden fees. Some former customers invoke fraud, claiming that the company kept charging them for months after canceling their BasicTalk subscription.
The website’s account section does feature an automated payment option, which can be toggled on or off. You would think adjusting this option solves the problem, but some users report that the automated payment option came back on, even after they manually disabled it several times. In most cases, repeatedly calling customer support was the only solution to make ends meet.
In order to get rid of the recurring payments after service cancellation, some former customers went as far as canceling their credit card and requesting a new one. They later reported that, somehow, the company got hold of their new card details and continued to charge them, which is quite unbelievable and unlikely.
Another source of dissatisfaction seems to be the impossibility to cancel one’s BasicTalk subscription online. The only solution users have is to call customer support. After informing them of your intentions, you have to wait for 2 months before actually canceling. Even getting someone to answer your call seems to be a challenge, as the response times are quite long.
Despite the company’s claim that activating the account is very easy, a few people did encounter problems. When trying to contact customer support via live chat, they could not get hold of a representative. Overall, the customer service has quite a bad reputation and is probably one of the main reasons why the service did not receive a higher rating.
Keep in mind, however, that dissatisfied customers are more likely to express their disappointment than happy ones to express their gratitude. Considering that approximately half of the reviewers assured that they would recommend this service to their acquaintances, it is safe to say that the balance tilts towards a positive verdict.
The Bottom Line about BasicTalk
If you are going to compare this service with other VoIP alternatives, don’t bother, since, except for the low price, it has little to offer. However, if you compare it to a landline phone service that you are trying to cancel in order to cut down on expenses, it might be a good fit.
Why trust in the long term? It is the creation of a reliable and reputed service provider that seems to have made a successful entrance into the B2B market. Judging by the features of its big brother, Vonage, we have reasons to expect future improvements in terms of feature and customer service.
Then, since, unlike competitive services, it does not require long-term commitments, trying could be worth it. But, before you activate the service, take a few precaution measures. Start by evaluating your internet connection, to see if it is fast and stable enough to support VoIP calls.
Then, think of whether you need to make international calls or not. Given that BasicTalk does not support them, you may have to look for another service provider. Finally, evaluate your home needs and see if you need more handsets and if they can be installed.
Assuming that, after this evaluation, you still find the service attractive, load up with a lot of patience, hope and confidence, and follow the steps described above for activating the service. Hopefully, those bad reviews are just isolated cases, and your truth will be different, positive and in favor of BasicTalk.