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Our Ooma Business Phone System Review
Based in Palo Alto, California, Ooma is a market leader in consumer telecommunications. Back in 2004, they started out offering peer-to-peer VoIP services to let users make phone calls over their landlines. In 2008, Ooma re-branded their home service as Ooma Telo for residential use including up to 5,000 minutes of outgoing calls per month.
The company was significant for being among the first to offer absolutely ‘free’ service, with no monthly charges paid to the company. Consumers are required to buy their proprietary VoIP adapter, Ooma Telo and the monthly payment includes only mandatory government taxes and fees. Purchasing the device in advance, instead of a monthly payoff, or contractual costs for the Telo means higher initial investment, but a much lower monthly cost for Ooma.
Since then Ooma has also established itself as a leading provider for the VoIP telecommunications needs of small businesses through their Office service. Ooma Office is the latest in the line of affordable, high quality VoIP phone service from Ooma. Getting started is a cinch, as Office leverages the power of cloud computing and high-speed internet to deliver advanced business telecommunication features and services without burning a hole through your wallet. With their proprietary on-site hardware, and wireless distribution unit, Ooma Office hubs can support analog phones, mobile devices, and IP phones.
Why Ooma Office?
Ooma Office is a one-stop solution for most of the telecommunication needs a small business could ever ask for, with features and price that is great compared to other business providers. Here are a few good reasons to make an informed choice:
- Easy installation – with a set up time of 15-20 minutes, getting an Ooma Office unit set up for a small office or business space is a cinch. The base unit and Linx devices come out of the box. Linx devices are used to engage additional phones via wireless connections.
- Versatility – works with all kinds of telephone units, including standard analog phones. With no additional cost for hardware, wires, or specialized devices, it saves us anywhere between $100 to $700, which are often needed for IP phones or multi-unit connectivity to hubs.
- Customizing options – The user-friendly online portal is easy to set up with a personalized login, password and some basic information. The level of customization desired in the services, additional features, and paid options are completely your choice. It cuts down the expenses on tech support, training, and can be maintained or updated even by users without phone system expertise.
- Scalable and portable – With maximum capacity of handling up to 20 exclusive lines or extensions, Ooma Office is an ideal business solution for a small enterprise. Besides, all you need is an additional power outlet and a Linx wireless calling adapter to manage everything in one composite dashboard, connecting any phone you want. Heck, you may not even need an office anymore!
- Risk free 30-day trial – It comes with a risk-free 30 day trial option with full money back guarantee (unless there is some physical damage inflicted by the user). Additionally, all ancillary devices – Linx devices, expansion sets, headsets, or multiple line IP phones are all equipped with similar flexibility.
Service Plans And Cost
The monthly and yearly costs of Ooma Office is split into one-time hardware costs and recurring service fees per month, accrued from mandatory taxes payable to government. The following section details the costs involved:
|Hardware and Feature||Cost (Pre-tax)|
|Basic ‘starter’ package – base station and two Linx wireless devices||$250|
|Additional Linx device||$50 per unit|
|Office expansion unit||$99 per unit|
|Service fee (one phone + one user + one number)||$19.98 per month|
|Each additional user or each dedicated additional line for users||$9.98 per month|
|Internet faxing and three-way conference calling feature||$9.98 per month|
Ooma does run promotions at periodic intervals, offering huge savings. Buyers are always advised to look around in various VoIP forums and blogs for promo codes which can offer the starter package for as low as $100! Amazon also offers a $50.00 rebate on the list price.
The pricing structure is highly inclusive and comes armed with loads of features like voicemail, virtual receptionist, virtual extensions, customized ringtones, music on hold, unlimited calling in the U.S. and Canada (for local numbers), 500 minutes inbound for toll-free numbers (with 3.4 ¢/additional minute), no international minutes are included however. Except for international calls everything listed above is included in the the only plan offered, we’ll call it the basic plan, making it unique among most competitors in VoIP service plan space. There are no additional or hidden charges to include these features.
The transparency also extends to their hardware cost upfront, and low monthly charges. Other VoIP options claim to provide ‘free’ hardware, only to charge anywhere between $25 to $50 per user and much higher monthly fee, or hidden charges for binding contracts per year, or for every additional feature. Ooma is practically hassle-free after the initial investment. And of course, they have a 30-day risk free trial with money back guarantee.
So what about international calls
International calls can be made on a prepaid basis with incredibly low rates. The process is simple. Just sign-in to your Ooma Office account and add a fixed dollar amount of credits to your account for international minutes. Then you can begin making calls almost immediately because the system will automatically detect that you have credits (to allow international calls) and also take care of everything else by deducting the amount you owe based on where you call and for how long.
Ooma Office is particularly impressive for the diversity of features, and the fact that they’re included in the fees for most service plans. Purists may point out that Obihai, or some other competing brands offer a bigger feature set, but Ooma is at that perfect ‘sweet spot’ of affordable price and all the features a small business could possibly desire.
- Virtual receptionist – the point of contact to assign and reach specific extensions of employees easily, accepts incoming calls. A handy ‘text-to-speech’ support means you merely have to type in the customized welcome message, information regarding business hours, directions to physical office location, or employee availability and it is directly turned into a convenient recorded message. You may upload your own message as well. Keep in mind though, you’re limited to a stingy 5 MB.
- Virtual extensions – for mobile or remote employees. An additional feature of using the mobile app to receive or make calls using your Ooma extension or number from any smartphone.
- Ring group – the custom ring groups allow you to discern between callers, group certain employees or departments by numbers to transfer relevant calls etc.
- Voicemail notification – Among the coolest features for the Ooma kit is the innovative ways it ensures that your important calls are not missed. You can set up notifications via email, SMS, password protect your voicemails, employ voice-to-text transcribing etc. Mobility features like voicemail forwarding or call forwarding to specific phone numbers, or inboxes are also great for sensitive communications.
- Additional features like conference call set up for up to 10 people, sequential call forwarding by alpha-numeric order, called ID check, and music on hold are great for business calls.
The IP phones also include one-touch features like ‘do not disturb’ mode, call transfer, and extension dialing.
The hardware includes the starter package, with additional capability to connect two more Linx devices to the base unit. For more than five users needing a dedicated phone, you’d need to procure the ‘expansion’ base station and additional Linx devices to have a dedicated extension or number for them. All numbers would come with password protected answering, voicemail, voicemail to email transcription, SMS notification etc.
To activate your account log into the Ooma Office online portal and fill in your:
- Seven-digit activation code
- Contact information
- Login credentials and password you would create for future use
- Address for 911 calls.
- Business phone number (this could be temporary in case you plan to transfer to a different one, or your business details aren’t finalized yet) – you may choose a local or a toll-free number.
- Specific portal tabs are used for further custom actions like: Home (call logs, fax logs, dashboard), Manage (add numbers, extensions, virtual receptionist), Account (admin info, security, payment details), Support, and Add-ons (tracking order status of hardware purchase, phone number transfer etc.)
Once you click ‘Activate’ the system software automatically downloads the requisite software updates should it need to do so. Just ensure that the base unit is connected to your internet modem, and the AC adapter is plugged into power source. Connect the primary phone to the base unit.
Once the light on the base unit turns ‘blue’ – you are ready to leverage your high-speed internet to start making and receiving calls. To connect additional phones, connect the Linx devices to their nearest power outlet and keep the Page key pressed until the base unit recognizes the wireless signal, and the Linx device turns blue as well. Your additional phone lines are now ready to use! Repeat for each additional line.
On the customer service front, both on technical support, and on general support features – delivery, troubleshooting, post purchase support, warranty etc. Ooma maintains an exemplary record. Several mock trials, as potential customers, small business owners, partnership representatives, and competitive providers, were each met with satisfactory answers (a welcome surprise in a market segment where ‘answers’ aren’t always available).
Customer service representatives know enough to recommend the right plan for your business size. A followup strategy via direct call, email, or SMS notification is timed well without making the sales pitch obnoxiously frequent. Tech support scores high for all sorts of questions regarding set up/installation, full system feature walk-through, hardware recommendation, and detailed analysis of which additional pay-per-use feature would be helpful for a particular small business solution. Nearly all representatives appear friendly, personable, and refreshingly transparent regarding pricing structure, and even limitations of the product. Phone support is available Monday through Friday from 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. PST and on the weekends from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. PST.
The 24/7 Live chat tool has a quick response time, and answers are seldom incomplete or vague. The website also has video tutorials, troubleshooting forums, FAQs section, and email options. Overall, it’s a comprehensive support unit which scores higher for having some sort of support option available at all times.
What We Like
On the whole, there’s much to love about Ooma Office, if you’re opting for it as a small business telecommunication solution. The things I like are:
- Cost-efficient – Clear pricing structure with no hidden costs or taxes apart from mandatory government taxes. In addition, the monthly running costs are low after an initial device and purchase price upfront.
- Quick and easy installation
- Highly portable
- Versatile and compatible with all kinds of telephony devices
- Several good features are part of pricing in basic plans. Advanced features are not exorbitantly expensive, or preserved exclusively for pro users.
- Call quality is top-notch
- Connecting to remote employees and transferring calls to their extension is easy
- Special features deliver as promised. Conference, voicemail transcribing, encrypted VM inbox, music-on-hold, or ring group features all work as expected, improving the scope of any small business.
- Excellent customer service
What We Don’t Like
All of the above doesn’t mean however, that it is all rosy. There are some glaring omissions in terms of business class telecommunication features – not least because some of them are available even for basic ‘personal use’ solution like Ooma Telo. So here are the things we wish Ooma Office did better:
- None of the great blacklisting features by individual number, group, or advanced telemarketer blocking which are available for Ooma Telo.
- The base unit doesn’t have a ‘Voicemail’ LED indicator to notify that you have messages waiting. You may however set up notifications to email or SMS.
- Limited number of concurrent outbound calls, even if subscribed for more lines.
- Additional lines are all paid, even if it’s the second line.
- Known defects with handling multiple calls via virtual receptionist, or setting up holiday schedule.
- Call queuing, call screening, or video-conferencing options are not available, neither are Google Voice extensions for portable devices.
While most of the above may not necessarily be a deal breaker for a smaller business – it does place some limitations. More than anything however, if your business grows along the way to employ more than 20 individuals with telephony needs, Ooma wouldn’t be able to support it.
Ooma Office FAQs
In the following section, we address some of the common queries we have found regarding Office service so you can decided whether to get Ooma Office or not.
Do I have to purchase Ooma hardware to work with Ooma Office?
No. If your business is reasonably supported by smartphones, you may simply download the Ooma Office mobile app (supported in iOS and Android phones). You can call, receive, and transfer right away. Most basic features are available for a monthly fee of only $19.95 USD or $24.95 CAD
How many phone extensions can I create?
You may create up to 20 extensions – adding five other physical lines and 15 virtual extensions to add a total of 20 more numbers to your office primary.
What is Office business promoter?
Ooma Office Business Promoter is a marketing tool to help consumers search for local businesses online, tapping into potential business calls. It is a pay-per-lead tool to increase the online presence of your small business.
How do I send and receive faxes?
Ooma offers several options for faxing including Virtual faxing and Analog faxing. They also have introduced ‘SureFax’ which has greatly increased the reliability of Analog VoIP faxing. The best way to send faxes is through the Ooma office online interface. Login to the web portal, attach a file, enter the destination phone number, and hit send to fax the file. Internet fax extensions must be set up to receive faxes electronically. Equipped with a dedicated phone number, the extension forwards incoming faxes to the assigned phone number to the specified email inbox associated with it. For more info on faxing hop on over to our Ooma Office Faxing Guide.
Final Thoughts on Ooma Office
On the whole, Ooma Office delivers on most counts as a full-featured virtual PBX (Private Branch Exchange) with support for several excellent business friendly telecommunication features at an affordable price. It doesn’t always match up to wider spectrum of services offered from some of the rival brands, and might cause some frustration owing to the fact that other packages from the same company include those features. However, contingent upon such future refinement, most of the paid services add value to the basic plan.
Most of all, with good customer service they provide an ideal VoIP solution for small enterprise end-users.
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Do Not Use Ooma!
I cancelled my Ooma Office account in May 2016. They continued to bill me. After calling Ooma they promised to cancel my account. To this day, my account is still active and they are charging my credit card.
The management of Ooma are a bunch of stinking cheating lying crooks.
I'm not the only one with this problem. Have a look online for people continuing to be charged by Ooma after cancellation.
David - We are very sorry to hear your experience with Ooma Office, we have no reason to believe you aren't telling the truth but this appears to be far outside the norm with Ooma as they get stellar reviews from nearly all customers. Clearly they aren't perfect, but what company is? Best of luck in getting your issue resolved and thanks for your review.