About 9X9 Central Telephone Company

Were you fooled?  Most businesspeople are fooled by ads like this.

Your company phone service and number are important. Here are some tips on avoiding being taken by "phone companies" ripping off businesses all over the country.
 

9X9 Central was formed by Mike Sandman on February 14th, 2014. In about 6 hours. Working from home on his regular desktop PC.

It consists of nothing more than a domain name that cost about $10, and some space on our existing Internet server which is essentially free for us (but I could easily get the Internet server for $5 a month).

If you call our sales number at 630-339-7480 (that costs us about $2 a month) it goes to an Asterisk PBX in the cloud that costs us about $30 a month, which can easily be used to provide telephone service to others (should I want to do something like that).

Yes. 9X9 Central is completely fake.  It's designed to try to steal your money (if I wanted to).

Everything on the 9X9 Central sales page can be done by anybody. Really cheap.

I can buy Polycom phones, Cisco ATAs, CounterPath softphones, and easily give you unlimited phone calls and faxes. They might not sound too hot since I'd get the cheapest VoIP trunks I could find, and the faxes are unlikely to work well (with any VoIP service), but I can buy all the stuff on the Internet and setup your service on our $30 a month Asterisk server (in the cloud) in minutes.

I can give you 800 or local phone numbers. If you are crazy enough to publish those phone numbers before you find out this is all a scam - you'll lose all the business you'd get from using those numbers in ads or giving them to customers. If I port your number, you could even lose the phone number you've had for years.

There is no Level 9 Internet backbone. I'd put you on the cheapest routes to anywhere in the world I could find. And there are some really cheap wholesale VoIP providers!

The good news is that the quality of your calls would be so-so even on the worst wholesale VoIP providers. Not business grade, but mostly understandable. But if your LAN or Internet connection isn't setup for VoIP, you have no chance of your VoIP calls working right. Whether you get VoIP from a good or bad provider.

Our Asterisk server in the cloud goes down about once a month or two. Sometimes for a full day. Sometimes for just a few minutes. Why? It's never been the server itself for us. Most of the time it's that the data center generator wouldn't start in a power outage, a router went bad, and most often a router somewhere was programmed wrong by an IT guy.

It happens with this cloud company, and it will happen with every cloud company. Some are a lot better than others, but there is no way to prevent all outages. 99% uptime for service that you can actually use just isn't going to happen for you in the real world.

I'd get your money todayWhich you'll never get back no matter what I say about 100% satisfaction. And since you've signed a contact I'll sue you if you don't pay. Good luck proving I didn't give you "phone service" in court in a state far away from you.
 

Just because a company says they're a Phone Company
doesn't mean they're a real Phone Company.
 

Getting suckered by the wrong company could cost
both your business and your reputation.
 

What would you do if your phones were out?  Often?
 

What would you do if you lost your phone number?
 

For outgoing you can use your cell phone. That ain't going to work for your company's main incoming number.
 

If someone fixing their house checks Angie's List before they hire a painter, why are businesses
getting phone service from terrible companies without checking them out?


Here's what I do to checkout something I need from the Internet:

It doesn't matter how big the company seems, if you think you recognize the name, or how long it's been around. If you don't check them out you could be in for a lot of pain:

Put:  companyname terrible  or  companyname ripoff   or   companyname scam  into google.

Unless the company name is very generic this will bring up anything bad that has been posted to the Internet. To get the latest information click on Search Tools at the top of the google page and choose last week, last month or last year.

Examples you might try:   uverse terrible   or  comcast terrible   or   time warner terrible

The results make me want to throw up. How did the country get to the point where businesses can do this to us?

I can't tell you how many times I researched a product or service, thought it would be great, and did my "terrible" search on google... only to have my hopes dashed by truly terrible reviews that proved the service is truly terrible.

Sometimes I was desperate and tried a service out even though a lot of people thought it was terrible. Hey, maybe they got better?  That never worked out for me.  Ever.

For physical products Amazon's reviews and ratings are helpful, but they're full of fake reviews. You have to become a detective to figure out who's telling the truth on the Internet.
 

So what do you have to lose by giving them a try?

  • Your existing phone number that you ported to the new service
  • A local or 800 phone number they give you, and you give out, that you can't keep if you leave
    (yes, they will tell you that you can keep it)
  • All of the orders from customers who can't reach you
  • The money for advertising in it that has a phone number that doesn't work
  • The time you spent setting up the new service
  • The money you spent setting up the new service
  • The money you'll lose if you don't fulfill the contract (legal bills and more)
  • The cost of putting your old phone system back in service
  • The time you'll spend finding a new "phone company" (being much wiser!)

Don't let someone bully you into signing a contract for an unknown quality of service.  Salesmen always try to give you an impending event to make it sound like you're going to lose out if you don't sign the contract right away.  If the salesman is a crook, putting your company's telephone service in his hands is going to cost you dearly!

Check out the company's financials and/or run a D&B (yes, the D&B will cost you a little but it's money well spent in this case).

The only companies who can't go out of business are real phone companies (utilities). Even if you get VoIP service from a division of a utility, they can close that division overnight. You have no protection at all from any VoIP provider, even a utility (since VoIP service isn't regulated) who goes out of business or sells out to competitor who provides worse service.

You have absolutely no protections from any government entity when you order VoIP.  Period.

Before signing a contract:

  • Check out actual references from similar size companies (google the reference to make sure they're real)
  • Test their service for at least a month even if you only use if for outgoing calls, and test calls inbound
  • Test their tech support more than once

If you've figured you'll save $1,000 a month on your new VoIP system, don't spend that money right away (don't buy a new car, new furniture, sign a more expensive lease, etc.). You may need that money to upgrade your LAN or Internet service, even with the best VoIP service. If your LAN or Internet connection won't support VoIP you'll have to make changes to stop the finger pointing and get your VoIP service working right.

If you get your phone lines (and phone numbers) from a regulated utility, and buy a real phone system for your office (VoIP or not), it will be nearly impossible for you to lose your phone service if you pay your bill. Your VoIP service at branch offices or homes may go down if your Internet connection goes down at your office, and if you are using SIP trunks for outgoing calls they may not work, but you'll still be in business if you have POTS lines for your incoming calls.

There are NO regulations on any of the VoIP phone companies, except laws against fraud and theft. No part of the government will care if you're ripped off. It's a civil matter. You will pay taxes on the "phone lines" but you don't know if the taxes will be paid to the government.
 

Never believe a VoIP salesman who tells you that their service will work well
on your current LAN with your current Internet provider. It probably won't.


If your pipe to the Internet is from a cable TV provider like AT&T Uverse, Verizon FIOS or Comcast (even Business Class) your phone calls will sound terrible sometimes. The way these companies connect you to the Internet, your bandwidth is shared by everyone in your neighborhood. You have no control over how many of your neighbors are watching movies or porn (which will screw up VoIP). Knocking on everybody's door to ask them to not look at movies or porn probably won't work? It'll probably be just as hard to stop the people inside your office from watching movies or porn (which is why you need a separate LAN in your office for VoIP).

Toshiba has a VIPedge Hosted VoIP service that I don't know anything about, and I was unable to find a phone number to talk to someone about it, but I was impressed by their IT requirements that have to be met to let a business use their service:

http://www.telecom.toshiba.com/Technology_Briefs/vipedge-hosted-voip-service.cfm

This is just basic common sense to prevent finger pointing that can't be resolved. It doesn't mean there won't be some problems, but it will be easier to identify where the problem is and fix it. I don't agree with their saying that business class cable Internet is OK, because I hear everyday that it's not sometimes.

Here's a short video from Megapath, who offers SIP trunks and hosted VoIP (we've used their DSL and T1s for a decade, but I don't know anything about their SIP stuff). The guy goes over the problems they deal with every day trying to give their customers good service. As he points out, you need to make changes on your network to make it work OK:

http://www.megapath.com/megapath-media/support/PreparingYourNetwork_HostedVoice.mp4

His showing two separate networks (one for voice, and one for data) is probably the only way you'll prevent most finger-pointing, and sometimes crummy sounding calls. Don't want to make the recommended changes? Don't get VoIP!

By the way, there's no way you'll be able to consistently use understandable VoIP from your smartphone or tablet on a cellular network. Even on Wi-Fi it may not sound consistently good, depending on other Wi-Fi traffic.

Here's an interesting not exactly true quote that I found on the Internet from someone selling VoIP:

"Hosted VoIP combines the features and flexibility of the best high-end phone systems with a resiliency that cannot be matched by an on-premise system."

You'll notice they use the word "resiliency." That word isn't reliability, but it's there to put that thought into your head.


Just because someone says something on the TV or a web page, they
tell
you something over the phone or in an email,
it doesn't mean it's true.
 

That might be the only true thing you'll read on the Internet!
 

The President said (relating to NSA spying) "Just because we can do something doesn't mean we necessarily should."

Keep that in mind when you're being pitched the latest whiz-bang stuff.  Look it up on google!

Mike Sandman

 

Mike Sandman is a telecommunications expert from Chicago. His Tech Bulletins and Tech Blog can be found at sandman.com


 

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