Sitting through a boring meeting or super-draining commute is one of those feeling-your-soul-go-on experiences. But if you really want to clear your mind, it may be time to go to the hairdresser or the gym–but there’s no getting around your lack of transport. You need a Dog Phone.
But you have to have a dog named Bubbles, Lil Bub, Cassius, Fredrick, Daisy, Bam Bam, Wally, Clyde, Bamboo, Jim, or Buster to make one. At least, that’s the standard. There are two companies that offer Dogphones. We decided to check in with them, and this should tell you something: You may not be getting your money’s worth.
Both companies seem to offer various tiers of the service. There’s a personal Dog Phone, a Dog Phone for group conversations, Dog Phone for group calls, and others. You can also get one for your dog’s best friend–that goes for Bruno, Roscoe, Fido, etc. It’s important to remember that the companies are also charging to use the communication method.
The basic personal Dog Phone costs $44 per month, which includes you a phone, unlimited calls, SMS, web access, and 1/10th GB of data. So you’re paying for minutes, and you’re probably also paying for data. Of course, if you really need to call someone and don’t want to worry about reaching out through messages, you can just text them instead.
“We’re pretty hands-off,” says Jennifer Lee, director of operations at DogPhone in Seattle. “We don’t call your dogs. If you want to use it for commercial purposes, go ahead.”
The basic “Group-Dog Phone” has a 3-to-1 subscriber-to-provider ratio, Lee says. So that means people sign up to use a certain number of DogPhones per month, regardless of how many dogs they own. “That can be a tricky thing to overcome,” she says. “It’s what you spend to try to generate customers.”
Another reason not to use Dogphones per se, if you choose to use them, is that you have to specify your dog’s name when you buy one. “We have rules,” Lee says. “For example, we can’t call a dog I’m willing to pay $44 for a dog I don’t own. We can call the dog name, but not the name the owner listed.”
Before you can get the DogPhone, you must buy a leash, collar, and harness to go with it. You’ll also need a business ID. Depending on where you live, the contract can include things like a corporate discount, free account maintenance for up to four months, and unlimited credit.
Both companies agree on one thing: Dogphones are for dogs. If your pet doesn’t feel comfortable speaking with humans, the option is off. And so, too, is calling people with Dogphones. The operators are talking to people in person.
We tried out two different companies. One was Google Voice (it came with a nominal discount) for about $40 a month. But calling was spotty. You’re more likely to be in another continent than in your own home. You can’t leave voicemails for your pets. And we didn’t hear the same audio quality we heard on the personal DogPhone.
The second company is JustWink for $20 per month. It only has two months of free service, though. And it works exactly like Google Voice does–minus the name.
At the end of the day, there may not be enough money in it to justify what you’d be spending to get one of these Dogphones. And at the end of the day, there may not be enough people using them to justify the cost. But there’s no way to know for sure. The phones may or may not be worth the money. What we do know is that we hope we don’t end up paying for one.
Do you own a DogPhone? Tell us in the comments below.
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