*For cell phone users.
Too much hype has been made about Google Voice being free. As a poor sap who just got a bill this morning for $140 *over* my regular monthly bill from T-Mobile, I can tell you that Google Voice calls are not free. Google Voice calls are calls to an intermediary phone number (in my case, one in Palm Springs) that count against your plan’s minutes. T-Mobile charged me for every minute over my “included” minutes. And I went way over my minutes because I thought that my Google Voice calls didn’t count against my minutes. Boy was I wrong.
Upon further investigation, I found that you could use Google Voice to make unlimited calls if you added your GV number to a carrier plan that allowed you to make unlimited calls to a select few numbers– plans like My Circle, Friends & Family, A-list, and MyFaves. I don’t know about other carriers, but guess what? T-Mobile doesn’t offer MyFaves anymore. So your only option for “unlimited calls” is a more expensive unlimited calling plan. And if you pay for that, then what’s the point of using Google Voice?
Google Voice provides some advantages over calls made the regular way, such as the ability to record calls (with the other party’s knowledge), the ability to send and receive SMS (not MMS) without it counting against your text limits (if you don’t already have an unlimited text plan), the ability to receive voice mails over the Internet and have them transcribed for you (as long as you don’t mind that Google is mining your messages for consumer data about you), and the ability to have both your cell phone and home phone ring when someone calls your Google Voice number. All those features may be worth it to you if you understand that Google mines every word in your phone calls, text messages, and voice mails. But as a way to save money? No, sir, no, ma’am. Google Voice calls are NOT free.
Google Voice is not a VoIP service. If you want that, get Skype. That’s what I might do now that I’ve learned my hundred-and-forty-dollar lesson.
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