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Jajah promises simple Internet phone, but has hitches


A few days ago, we wrote about Jajah, a new sort of Internet telephone company. You type a phone number into your PC, and your phone automatically calls that number over the Internet, thus saving you money.

Well, it had some bugs when we first tried it out -- simply put, it didn't work. But the company said that the U.S. launch -- announced today -- would come without similar bugs. (Jajah has received less than $10 million in venture backing from Sequoia Capital and moved its hq out here to Silicon Valley.)

So we tried it again. On the surface, it is actually pretty slick.

We typed in the destination phone number. Our landline rang, we picked it up, and the call went through to the destination phone. Great connection. No headsets. No microphone. And wait: No broadband needed! No software download, even. And to top it all off, the company has cleared some the initial confusion about its tracking software. Turns out, the company is using a simple cookie so it stores your number, and you don't have to type it over each time. It says it is no longer sharing your data to third-parties.

So how cool is this? Easy Internet calls, at reduced rates. (Update: Although, even here, before we get to our criticism, some people like Christian Leybold, of BV Capital, take issue with this, and ask "What's the big deal?." Using a PC for calls, for instance, can be considered a step backward...So ok, maybe we are going overboard with our word "cool" above -- even if Jajah manages to integrate your Plaxo contacts into the interface so that you can call easier (Plaxo is Sequoia backed, and apparently there is talk of this).)

Well, something rattled us badly. The Web site shows you how long your phone call is lasting. After we made a ten second call, we happily hung up. But the Web site kept showing the clock ticking away, and had a little message saying "Jajah call active!" Hmmm. We checked both phones again. They were both securely off. We sat there watching as the Web site showed the call still going. When the clock showed 2:30 minutes, we got bored waiting for something to happen, and so exited the site with slight alarm about just how much this call would really have cost us had it not been made as part of a "free trial". Let's just say we'll not be registering as a regular user anytime soon!

Jajah, please get it right, and let us know when it is ready.

And dear readers, let us know if you try out your free trial, and whether this clock overrun happens to you. Surely we can't be the only ones this is happening to?

Update. The company has gotten back to us (see below), and says that is a bug and should be easy to fix. Still, from comments below, looks like folks aren't really into these sorts of callback services, and even if they are, they have plenty of similar options already available:

....when you hang up the actual call does terminate, and what you see online is a bug. You can review this in your call history. If we can get the two numbers we can identify which partner to contact about this, and rectify any confusion. Let me know if you can provide these numbers.

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i believe you have to hang up on the website, not just your landline phone.
i have used it here in France and it works like a charm...

andreas on March 28, 2006 6:49 AM
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No, there is no place to hang up, or at least that I can see.

Btw, if it does require you to hang up on both phone and PC, that would be pretty lame, IMO. And perhaps it works better once you are registered. But at this point, I'm not going to bother, until they can get it right on the free trial.

Matt Marshall on March 28, 2006 6:56 AM
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I really don't see the big deal here. We've been using something called BestNet (http://www.bestnetcall.com) for a year or two now to do the same thing, even on dial-up, to call internationally, with few problems.

Ryan on March 28, 2006 8:17 AM
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I had the same problem. It did not hang up when we both hung up the phone. It was cellphone to cellphone.

Gary on March 28, 2006 8:58 AM
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This seems like a bug easily fixed. Sure, it should have been before the site launched, but my guess is it's days away and this will be a non-issue. My guess it's at the top of the list.

scottwired on March 28, 2006 10:16 PM
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He He. This is the old callback with a new name. I've been using this for ages.
Nicely repackaged

RYK on March 29, 2006 12:26 AM
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Can anyone say "Callback Service"?? This is certainly nothing new and has been around for ages. I don't understand what the hype is all about. There are a myriad of services just like this scattered all over the web. JaJah? I don't think so!

Neil on March 29, 2006 1:28 AM
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Jajah has worked perfectly for me!

Ewan on March 29, 2006 7:08 AM
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sparked by ryan's comment i compared bestnet and jajah and the delay with bestnet is very annoying. jajah in comparison has no delay whatsoever, which makes it, in my humble opinion, lots smoother to work with.

steph on March 30, 2006 5:39 AM
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I find this service very appropo. I have a small business, usually use SKYPEout, and have a landline phone with no long distance plan. Now I don't need to subscribe to any long distance plan, nor use any clunky and more expensive 1010 codes... Jajah is brilliant.
Skype and Skypeout quality is very good, but being able to occasionally use Jajah with my landline, and first five minutes is FREE?!?! Only upside here folks.

tony on April 19, 2006 11:42 AM
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i have a problem in jajah site , that when i opened it it shows that my phone number is in germany +49

that i live in israel +972

please help me changing the setting to be in israel

i dont know what is the problem .

thanking you

khalil on June 17, 2006 3:06 AM
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hi, i tried accessing the jajah website from shanghai, china but the page can't be displayed. any idea if there's a firewall that blocks users here? thx

phil on August 9, 2006 6:32 PM
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