22 Dec 2017

CompuVoIP Giving Back: Misaskim

Giving back to the community is one of the operating principles of Compu-Phone/CompuVoIP.  From providing a community synagogue at our Clinton Hill headquarters, to welcoming daily interns from community organizations, Compu-Phone/CompuVoIP has been extending a helping hand for over three decades.

Misaskim is a volunteer community organization that serves the Jewish Community of the NYC Tri-State area with support for mourners’ needs, care for the deceased, Emergency/Disaster Recovery, assistance with burial arrangements, and liaison to medical examiners and law enforcement agencies.

For Misaskim’s telethon in September, CompuVoIP provided them with the telecommunications infrastructure that they would need to ensure that donors would be able to connect and pledge their support. The logistics were complicated. The volunteers would be spread between locations in Brooklyn, NY and Lakewood, NJ. Incoming calls would have to be directed to the two locations, and communication between the two locations would need to be quick and simple.

CompuVoIP’s team of seasoned technicians mapped out and prepared the infrastructure at both locations, providing and installing all of the telephone equipment that the volunteers would need, and setting up the Automatic Call Director and Auto Attendant.  Compu-Phone/CompuVoIP also absorbed the complete cost of installation and setup associated with the telethon project.

Take a look at this short video where Misaskim’s Executive Director sings Compu-Phone’s praises.

Compu-Phone/CompuVoIP has been providing businesses with state of the art telephone service for over three decades. With our own fleet of trucks, expert technicians, and seasoned programmers, we provide everything your business needs to get its phones up and running. From wiring and cabling, to custom solutions for schools, warehouses, health care facilities, and government offices, we continue to delight customers with our expertise and passion.

Give us a call at (718) 887-0300 or email us at sales@compuvoip.com. Let us design a solution for your telecommunications needs.

11 Dec 2017

Robocalls, Telemarketers, Tigers, and Bears

Have you had enough of telemarketers and robocalls pestering you at work, at home, and on your cellphone?

You are not alone. The YouMail Robocall Index™ estimates that 75.5 million robocalls were placed in the month of October, 2017 to telephone numbers in area codes 718,347,917, and 212.

By now you surely have added your telephone numbers to the Federal Do Not Call List, and that will notify legitimate telemarketers to stay away, but companies you have done business with, charities and political organizations can still call you.

And then there are the FRAUDULENT telemarketers. They don’t pay any attention to the Do Not Call list. Most fraudulent telemarketers are located outside the U.S. Therefore, they do not have to follow U.S. guidelines.

Here are some steps that you can take. Some are actually quite counterintuitive!

  1. Keep your number to yourself.
    Refuse every request to provide your phone number unless you are absolutely required to do so. Providing your number is a tacit invitation for companies to call you or to sell your number to a third party.
  2. Hang up right away.
    There is nothing to gain from attempting to reason with the people behind the calls.
  3. Don’t Press Numbers
    In the past, many people have recommended certain number combinations or the pound key to delete yourself from a robocall registry.
    But does pressing the right numbers really take you off the list? No, you’re actually making it worse: “By pressing a number, you are confirming that someone is actually responding to the call, and you will likely receive more of them.
    This seems like something that maybe would’ve worked at some point, but scammers have gotten smarter and improved their systems.
  4. Use a Service that Blocks All Robocalls
    Check NoMoRobo.com to see if your landline is covered by their service. For cell phones, search ‘call blocker’ in your app store.
  5. Remove Your Phone Number from whitepages.com, phonenumber.com and 411.com
    You can request the deletion here.

 

Any other questions? Give us a call at (718) 887-0300 or email us at support@compuvoip.com. We’re thrilled to help!

29 Nov 2017

Why You Should Buy Your Phones from CompuVoIP

In any economic climate it is important to make sure that businesses get value for every dollar. When buying phones from a third party, be aware of the businesses’ needs at the phone level over and above the hardware purchase. It is important to know the risks involved in purchasing phones from a third party.

CompuVoIP’s approach covers all costs associated with hardware and labor in setting up the phones. CompuVoIP’s primary business driver is not supplying hardware or configuration costs. Although the hardware and implementation is critical to the service, CompuVoIP is most concerned that implementation establishes the sound foundation for a best-in-class service.

  • Boot ROM files must be installed on each phone. This is pre-imaged by our vendor if you buy the phones from CompuVoIP.
  • Firmware files must be upgraded on each phone. This is done through CompuVoIP’s custom automated system.
  • Each phone must be manually set up with a provisioning server. This is also done through CompuVoIP’s custom automated system.
  • CompuVoIP’s vendor scans the MAC addresses for each phone and provides CompuVoIP with an accurate spreadsheet to build the configuration file for each phone. Without this, the customer would need to manually document the MAC address of each phone. When done manually, this is a very tedious process and prone to errors that can lead to complications in the install.
  • Lastly, due to the volume of CompuVoIP’s purchases, CompuVoIP customers are provided with overnight RMA (replacement of the phone) for 30 days and phone warranty for a full year. Replacement phone requests are easily submitted by phone or via CompuVoIP’s online ticketing process. Many third party vendors who offer reduced prices do not provide these services. It is a good idea to ask this specifically when shopping a third-party,

Risks and increased costs over and above the hardware purchase in buying the phones through a third party:

⇒ Increased errors due to the customer’s manual entry of MAC addresses in the phone configuration spreadsheet.

⇒ Increased labor costs associated with the customer’s manual entry of MAC addresses in the phone configuration spreadsheet.

⇒ Increased complexity in dealing wit another vendor instead of dealing with a single point of contact.

⇒ Increased risks due to unknown consistency of outside hardware distributor. If this vendor changes product lines and does not continue to support your chosen phone model, hardware support may suffer. Most phones have a life of approximately eight years.

 

It is CompuVoIP’s desire to see your implementation go as smoothly as possible. We feel it is important to pass this experience on to our clients so decisions can be made with the best information available.

25 Oct 2017

What Monster Lurks in Your Wiring Closet?

One of the things that never ceases to amaze (and confound) our technicians is the sorry state of low voltage wiring that they encounter when doing site visits at potential customers.
Here is an example of what one technician recently encountered:

 

The most pathetic part of this situation is that fact that these businesses see nothing wrong with it. Besides the aesthetics, if one can guarantee that nothing will ever change. No new extensions added, or deleted. Ever. No new internet or WiFI connections. Ever.  Then it probably doesn’t matter, since this is hidden in a closet out of sight.

And the reality on the ground in any business is that NOTHING stays the same. In fact, the hopes and aspirations of any business owner is business growth.. and with business growth comes changes in their phone system… and the need to unravel the spaghetti of installations like this one to figure out how to connect the new resources.

 

Let’s take a look at what wiring ‘done right’ looks like!!

 

 

 

 

Here are some pictures of the work done by our technicians when installing on-premise PBX systems.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of course, for our hosted customers, where the PBX is in the cloud, the wiring pictures look even more impressive. Note the simplicity of the wiring; it reflects on the simplicity of using and managing a hosted VoIP system.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Give us a call at (718) 887-0300 or visit us at www.compuvoip.com to learn more about what are expert technicians can do for your wiring issues. We’d be happy to talk to you about some of the many other advantages of hosted VoIP if you are ready to make the move to a simpler world.

27 Sep 2017

Are You a Victim of the Telecom Billing Double Whammy?

Imagine getting a copy of your phone bill and discovering two line items with official sounding names. Imagine further that after doing some research about those line items, you discovered that they were not really official at all, but, they were a sneaky way for your telephone provider to make some more money at your expense? That might be enough to ruin your appetite, wouldn’t it?

Well, what if we showed you an actual invoice where not only were those two line items present, but the telephone provider included them when determining the local taxes due on the service?

We’ve masked any details that would allow you the guilty party to be identified.

 

Let’s take a closer look at those line items

Regulatory Administrative Fee (RAF)
“The Regulatory Administrative Fee (RAF) is a monthly charge per line assessed to the end user for costs associated with regulatory proceedings and filings, compliance with regulatory orders and mandates, and administration of federally mandated taxes and surcharges.”
In other words, you, the consumer, are helping to pay the cost of their doing business.

Carrier Cost Recovery Fee
Despite the official-sounding description, this is not a tax or required by the government. The money goes to your phone company. “These are additional charges which are essentially a way to hide rate increases,” said Christopher White, chairman of the telecommunication committee with the National Assn. of State Utility Consumer Advocates.

The NYC 8.875% tax of 12.01 is calculated on the sum of all of the service charges and fees. This is where the double whammy happens. Bad enough that the provider adds on bogus charges to your bill, but they then go ahead and collect NYC tax on that amount. It is not clear that there is justification to charge tax on mandatory profit line items.

While we’re on the subject of double whammies.. A quick check of the web will reveal that a monthly fee for unlimited domestic VoIP telephone service of $45.99 is more than 200% of the ‘going rate’. The small 7.99 discount doesn’t do much to level the playing field.

So, what lesson do you learn from this incursion into the dark side of telecom billing?

At a minimum, you have become an educated consumer. Use your power to push back on any charges, taxes, and fees that you cannot identify.

CompuVoIP offers a free, no strings attached, audit of your telephone bill.  We can show you samples of our bills. You won’t find any bogus charges and fees there. And our monthly service fees are competitive and attractive.

Had enough? Give us a call at (718) 887-0300 or visit us on the web at www.compuvoip.com.

 

18 Sep 2017

A Beginner’s Guide to Disaster Recovery and your Telephone System

So how do you plan for Business Continuity around your phone system? In light of the multiple natural disasters that have plagued the US, it is prudent to review this now.

 

The world of telephony is changing. Subtly, over the past several years, there has been continual change as the convergence of voice and data continues. Everyone agrees about the need to have data accessible via some cloud strategy.   What I have discovered is that people think primarily about the data, and the idea of keeping the pulse of your business alive – your phone system, is relegated to a distant second place. Phones are taken for granted, and, as a result, most people do not even know the questions to ask.

The purpose of this article is not to provide you with all the answers but to help you start thinking and asking better questions. A checklist is included at the end.

 

We start with deciding between a premise-based system and a hosted one. The way Disaster Recovery (DR) is handled with Hosted systems IS NOT the same as with premise-based systems.

 

Premise-Based Systems

How do you identify a premise-based system? It is fairly simply. If the PBX is located in your building it is premise-based. Your carrier connects directly to that PBX. They have responsibility to deliver dial tone to that PBX only. Meaning if that PBX is not “there” to receive that call, the person originating the call will get a fast busy. For the customer to not get a fast busy that PBX will need to stay up. This means that you need extra protection, extra features and even a secondary PBX to protect you in case of a natural disaster.

 

You will want need to talk to your PBX maintenance person about an off site PBX or off site backups. You will also need to talk to your carrier about what to do when your PBX is off line. Where can you forward your calls? The most common answer is to a cell phone. You will need to keep in mind that one cell will get every call that comes on that forwarded number with no ability to transfer that call. Plus, juggling calls in a cell is not easy, and, typically, you can only manage two calls at a time.

 

Hosted Systems

Hosted VoIP is a model that leverages the Internet. The idea is that the call control is out of the building and in the cloud. You should make sure that the company that is hosting the PBX (call control server) has it housed in a facility like a carrier hotel and is, preferably, georedundant. Georedundancy means that the facility is operating at more than one geographical location, as a form of redundancy in the of case site failure.

Hosted systems have become more popular as VoIP has become a stable and effective business model.

But not all hosted VoIP providers are the same. It is very much caveat emptor when it comes to VoIP, especially if you are basing your choice of providers exclusively on price. When considering a telephony DR plan you must be an educated buyer and interview each potential vendor.  A separate article will cover how to interview VoIP providers.

 

Click here for a simple check list that will help organize some of your thoughts around DR. It is meant as a starting point and is far from an exhaustive list. A comprehensive DR plan will spell out hourly costs associated with downtime, a business impact analysis, and action guide that outlines the roles and responsibilities of each employee.

 

Most companies do not do this exhaustive planning and become comfortable as long as “most bases are covered”. The checklist below is designed to assist in helping you start to think through some of the major needs.  You can count on a high-quality VoIP provider to assist with DR planning. You can reach any of our experts at (718) 887-0330 to discuss your company’s specific Disaster Recovery needs. We look forward to hearing from you.

 

 

 

16 Aug 2017

Beware the Auto-Renew Clause

Here at CompuVoIP, we get calls every week from customers that are unsatisfied with their current dial-tone service provider or VoIP business telephone service providers. After spending some time with the customer to get a better understanding of their concerns, we generally share with them how the CompuVoIP VoIP service will better meet their needs. That’s when it usually happens. When the CompuVoIP representative asks the question “Are you under contract with your current provider?”, a period of heavy silence usually follows. Far too often, the silence is followed by the response “Yes, and our contract just auto-renewed and we are stuck for another 24 months!!”.

While often touted as a convenience for the customer with the promise of hassle-free uninterrupted service, auto-renewal or “Evergreen” Clauses are clearly advantageous to the service provider. They lock the customer in for the full duration of the original contract term.

Auto-renewal clauses are often referred to “boilerplate clauses” with the intent of giving the impression that they are fixed and cannot be changed, and most customers are sufficiently intimidated by the term to acquiesce to their presence in their agreements. The truth, however, is that EVERYTHING is negotiable. As the customer, you can leverage the power of the purse and the pen. Never relinquish that power unless it is to your advantage.

And what to do if your carrier tells you that your 24 month contract has just auto-renewed and you want out?

California Law requires that automatically renewing charges for subscription services be disclosed in a “clear and conspicuous” manner, which means that it must be more conspicuous than the surrounding text and in close proximity to the signature line. The extraordinary remedy for a service provider failing to comply with this provision is that any additional services provided to the consumer will be deemed an “unconditional gift. Illinois, North Carolina, Louisiana, and Oregon have similar “clear and conspicuous” requirements in automatic renewal provisions.

Are you located in New York State? Rejoice!

New York has taken the “clear and conspicuous” requirement one step further by requiring the service provider to notify customers at least 15, but not more than 30, days prior to the renewal that the provision in the clause is to be activated. See New York General Obligations Law Sec. 5-903. This notice must be served on the customer personally or via certified mail and failure to comply will render the automatic renewal unenforceable. The New York statute only applies to contacts for service, maintenance, or repair, but the customer can be an individual or a business.

There’s never a contract for our service at CompuVoIP. We ‘lock you in’ by delighting you so you’ll never go anywhere else. Looking to upgrade your service, or to move to a service provider that doesn’t lock you into a contract? Visit us at www.compuvoip.com or give us a call at (718) 887-0300.

 

09 Aug 2017

Six Things to Get Right in Your IVR

Here are some key insights from Bill Price, Driva Solutions:

 

Keep IVR menus short and simple. Don’t have more than 3 options in a menu.

Our short term memory is limited in capacity. Be mindful and respectful of your customer and don’t overwhelm them with too many choices.

Only play messages when they are needed.

Your customer has a mission: to get what they need as quickly as painlessly as possible. Superfluous messages are distracting and confusing. Make sure that you only play what your customer absolutely needs to hear.

Always provide an option to exit to an operator.

Your IVR should not be a maze with dead-end paths. Make sure there’s an escape route available in every path in your IVR.

Make it clear how the customer can repeat options or get help.

Tell ‘em once, and then tell ‘em again at each level of the IVR.

Allow the customer time to act: – build in pauses.

If you are too aggressive in setting time limits for response, you will end up with higher abandonment rates and heavier loads on your customer service staff.

Provide touch-tone (DTMF) options.

Voice responses are not appropriate for all callers. High levels of ambient noise can confuse voice recognition systems and frustrate your callers. They may also not be comfortable speaking their personal information if they are making their call in a public space.

Keep the same voice across the IVR and in your ACD

Invest the effort to present a consistent voice to your customer for the entire time that they are interacting with electronic call control. Complement your use of the IVR/ACD by investing in professional voiceover artists and you will impress your callers with your professional treatment.

19 Jul 2017

The End of the PSTN (conclusion)

PSTN Baggage

Why bother, you might ask? Why not let the old geezer die a slow death? Simply put.. It is costing each one of us big bucks in the form of government subsidies, to maintain the PSTN. The Universal Service Fund (USF), which is collected by carriers from phone users and redistributed by the government, still supports rural telephone service. With the flight to packet well underway by the more lucrative PSTN customers, the cost of subsidizing the remaining customers – rural dwellers, elderly urban dwellers for the most part – will skyrocket. USF revenue, sourced mainly from PSTN users, will continue to decline.

Dropping the subsidies alone would not be a viable option, as it would leave the aforementioned customer base stranded without voice communication and access to 911.

Another serious concern is reliability. In a power failure, POTS customers can still make calls because copper wires still provide current. Some home alarms and medical-monitoring systems don’t work with wireless systems.

The TAC has recommended that the government ensure that everyone who now has PSTN service has access to either a broadband or cellular communication alternative, or that the PSTN sunset by synchronized with this availability.

How telling is this quote from an AT&T filing with the FCC in 2014:

In other words, it is inevitable that over time circuit switched telephony will become irretrievably obsolete. And that day is fast approaching. Not only are customers abandoning circuit-switched networks and services in droves, making it increasingly uneconomic to maintain those legacy networks, but manufacturers of the equipment needed to maintain and operate those networks are likewise moving on. Those manufacturers want to focus their businesses on the networks of the future, not technology that is being displaced, and so they are discontinuing production of TDM equipment. As a result, it is becoming increasingly difficult to obtain needed spare parts to keep legacy TDM networks going.

 

It has been a great ride with you, PSTN…. Thanks for the memories.

13 Jul 2017

The End of the PSTN

The PSTN Today

In the United States, there has been a steady decline in the revenue from PSTN traffic. In fact, the National Center for Health Statistics projects that only 6% of the US population will still be served by the PSTN by the end of 2018.

As early as 2011, the Technical Advisory Council (TAC) to the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) recommended that the FCC set a date for the sunset of the PSTN rather than let the service fade slowly.

In early 2015 AT&T reported that, on average, its Illinois customers were dropping 1,000 old-fashioned landlines every day.

Ford’s Detroit headquarters purchased 8,000 wireless phones for the staff and ripped up its landlines. Eighty-five percent of the company’s business is now conducted wirelessly

In 17 of the 21 states where AT&T is the main carrier, lawmakers have eliminated regulations that require phone giants like AT&T and Verizon to keep POTS in place. However, even in states that have deregulated, the phone companies are waiting for the Federal Communications Commission to give its blessing before they get rid of the old landlines.

Next week we’ll talk about why we should care about ending the life of the PSTN.