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As someone who works from home but spends a solid amount of time on the road, one thing I've wanted to have is a good business phone solution. I don't like giving my cell phone out to every single vendor or being a contact point, rather I prefer to have a "office line." For years I used Vonage as my phone, but that was like a regular phone... it was just VOIP. What I wanted was a virtualized solution.

When Office 365 came along and offered the Lync-To-Phone capability, it looked perfect for me. That service, plus a subscription with Jajah gave me a virtualized phone. When people would call me or I'd call out from my business line, the call would go to Jajah which would hand the call off to Office 365 and now all my calls would run through Lync on my laptop. It was perfect! When I'd miss a call they would get transcribed and dropped in my Exchange Office 365 hosted inbox. I was thrilled so I signed up and it went great!

Once everything was working, I tried porting my number from Vonage over to Office 365 and Jajah. I won't rehash this, but it turned out to be one of the most frustrating and worst experiences in customer service & support ever... you can read about it here. But once it was resolved, things were ok. OK in the sense that I put up with the occasional dropped call or service interruption. I loved how my BusyLight would automatically turn red when I'd accept / make a call. All in all, I was satisfied.

Then in late May, all of us using this service got an email from Jajah saying they were dropping the service and we'd need to find another solution. No word from Microsoft at this time... in fact, even the support guys were clueless as shown by this thread I started in the Office 365 forums. The problem was that Microsoft had no other partners in North America to handle the phone piece so we were screwed! After a few days Microsoft finally reached out to customers and basically said this: yeah, it's going away... sorry about that. We're working on a solution, but it won't be ready before Jajah shuts down their service so you'll need to move your phone number to another solution. Oh... and here's a $50 Skype credit as our thanks.

I'm starting to wonder if there's a goal of Office 365 to see how many times you can screw up customer service / support because they are really doing a good job of it. My satisfaction score for Office 365 is just about at the point of the US Congress approval rating.

Seriously? As you can see from the thread previously linked, many customers were furious and even talking class action lawsuit as they had purchased a ton of IP phones for their hosted solution. Worst yet, Skype doesn't support number porting! I along with many others evaluated a bunch of solutions including Grasshopper & RingCentral. In the end, I moved my number to a company, Park My Phone, that simply parks my number and forwards it to another number. I then signed up with Skype to get a number. I am back to where I was except it isn't integrated directly with Office and the Skype browser plugin crashes so much I had to disable it (breaks in Chrome, IE and Firefox). In fact what's amusing is this solution is a MUCH cheaper monthly cost for me than my previous Jajah + Office365 phone solution

I've been using this service now for about 2 weeks and I'm very pleased. Skype's quality is MUCH better than Lync and much more reliable. I'd recommend this solution to other people. I wish I could port my number to Skype and save a little more... who knows, maybe we'll get that. One thing is for certain, I'm going to be VERY careful about trusting the folks at Office 365 with my phone number again, regardless of the solution they come up with in the future.

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