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Users of Rebtel, Please Stand Up!

Posted by: Olga Kharif on August 29, 2006

I just talked with a start-up called Rebtel which, per VoIP gury Jeff Pulver, could prove to be the next Skype. Rebtel, whose service is still in Beta, allows mobile phone users to make international and long-distance calls using their local wireless minutes for $1 a week.

I trialed the service this morning. The way it works is, you sign up on Rebtel’s Web site. Then, to call a friend, you dial a local number (a Portland, Ore., number, in my case) but it rings, say, in Sweden. There are certain inconveniences involved, though: In order for you to not pay long distance fees, your Swedish friend has to pick up, then hang up and redial a local number to finally connect with you. (Doing that on a cell phone is easy, you just redial the number that called you last.)

Have you trialed this service? How do you like it? Do you like it better than other mobile VoIP offerings out there? I would greatly appreciate your input. Thanks!

Reader Comments


August 30, 2006 12:59 PM

I LOVE this service. It makes it possible for me to communicate with my friends and boyfriend in Chile, basically for free. And with the convenience of being able to use a cell phone, it's amazing. Unlike services like Skype, which are clearly good services and very cheap, I can use my cell phone or my home phone to make calls, which makes talking much more comfortable for me.
I encourage everyone who has friends or family abroad to go out and try this service, it is phenomenal!!!

Josh Morgan

August 31, 2006 3:10 PM

Olga has just coined a new word! guy+guru=gury

Brian Weiss

September 1, 2006 11:38 AM

Rebtel really made my life so much easier. as a businessman in Canada who calls Europe regularly at least 10 times a day from my cell phone, I have all of my contacts programmed into my phone each one has a unique phone number, since the rates are so competitive with the calling cards, some times I don't even ask the other person to call me back. at first Rebtel sounded like a bit of a pain to have the other party call back, after a while it became automatic, I call someone and he asks shall I call you back, if its going to be a short phone call I say don't bother, the rates are so cheap.

Calling the USA for me is such a breeze, in the past I had a calling card which recognized my caller ID and gave me a prompt to dial my number, which I have to say is very convenient, but with Rebtel I eliminate that step I have numbers pre programmed, to dial my contacts is just one push of a button and I hear ringing right away.

I would also like to mention quality, as I am a frequent international caller my experience with most of the calling cards was not good, the quality is always bad, the wait time for the ring is sooo long and so is the pain that you get cut off every so often, with Rebtel its starts ringing right away and the call quality is crystal clear. its like having international long distance on your cell phone but paying calling card prices. to make a long story short Rebtel is saving me lots of time and money and making life so much easier.

Thank you Rebtel


September 6, 2006 10:18 PM

I started using Rebtel on July 14, 2006 and I'm loving it! The quality is a lot better then using prepaid card.

Linus Kendall

June 29, 2007 9:44 AM

Nice to hear about Rebtel users... I myself used the service and then I got the opportunity as a uni student to work for Rebtel during the summer.

So I'm sitting at their office working with making them more visible on the web as well as creating a community of other students to participate in the company.

If anyone's on Vox/Facebook/Wordpress etc. it would be great to hear more about your experiences there, I like to get as many inputs on it so I know how it works for people!



October 10, 2007 6:48 AM

Rebtel is great, easy, and very user-friendly. It'seven cheap if your friend doesn't have inclusive minutes (for the 'free' call) and you have to pay. However, whenever I have used it recently there's been an infuriating echo of much so I sometimes can't hear the person at the other end. This wasn't the case at the beginning - anyone else found this? It's annoying as may drive me away from Rebtel as it really affects call quality!


December 24, 2007 1:13 AM

I'm absolutely astonished. I used the service and I was charged 20 dollars for one 2 hour long phone call.
It doesn't even add up!
WTF is going on here? REBTEL SUCKS


February 1, 2008 12:36 PM

I was a huge rebtel fan, operative word being WAS there. Here is my story, I will try to be factual and leave the emotion out as hard as that may be.

My in laws are from Russia, my wife like talking to her family. It is very important to me that she be able to communicate with them on a regular basis since it helps with her overall sence of well being.

Many months ago I saw CNN do a story on the top 10 next big companies and one was rebtel, they even show you how to make free international calls. So I looked into. I went to their website and looked at the posted rates, which were 1.9 for Russia. I thought wow this is great. So I signed up and told my wife the great news, she could call even more often now because these rates are awesome. Fast forward approximately 4 months. First thing I notice is that all my contacts went from being labled Russia to Kazahkstan, now my inlaws do not live in Kazahkstan they live in Russia, on of the older cities in Russia. At first I thought well computers are not perfect so maybe it was just a glitch, until my wife made a call and we were charged quadruple (a new rate of 7.9 cents a minute) what we had been on previous calls. Apparently Rebtel now designated my Russian inlaws as living in Kazahkstan even though they live in Russia, neat trick. So I did what any one would do I contacted them and asked what happen and why were my in laws being listed as Kazahkstan when they live in Russia. I didn't get an answer to my Kazahkstan question but the politely told me that they are constantly buying time from different vendors and sometimes the rates change, when this happens it is just too monumental to try and notify every user. The customer service rep also pointed out that the TOS state that rates can change with no advanced warning.

Now I thought ok I dont like it but yes they can change any time without advance notice and their TOS state this. So I look into this a bit further and find that the advertised rate for Kazahkstan is 4.8 cents a minute and Russia is still listed as 1.9 cents a minute yet my inlaws who are listed as kazahkstan have a rate of 7.8 cents a minute. WOW is this what you call a bait and switch, where I come from this gets your business license pulled and everyone filiing law suits.


November 14, 2008 1:10 AM

At first, I thought Rebtel was great and told all my friends about it, until I heard this: One of my friends in Vienna, Austria just received his highest phone bill ever, 95 Euro, for "calls to New Zealand." (I currently live in New Zealand.)
He has never called New Zealand directly. He used Rebtel number I sent him. It looks like a Vienna local number, 01 253 892 101. The calls were supposed to be free according to his calling plan. Instead he was charged 95 Euro for those "local calls" at international rate.
How could a Vienna number show up as a New Zealand number? Is this a spam? Does anybody have any ideas or explanations?


November 14, 2008 1:23 AM

Rebtel is a spam after reading Reb Yell's comment. He and I had similar experience with Rebtel. We, users of Rebtel, need to Stand Up to stop Rebtel from ripping off more innocent people!


November 27, 2008 11:22 AM

The quality is very bad do not believe what they tell you, call get disconnected after a few minutes or seconds. I stop using the smart call (free call) option all together, still my calls are always dropped, I had a family member in the hospital I was trying to call him before he went to the operating room and my calls kept disconnecting (20 times i tried) ,it was impossible to talk. When he tried to call me using rebtel number he kept getting a message "your 10 minutes have expired" while i had more than 30 dollars in my account,,,, He died in the operating room that same day , so we could not even have a descent talk for the last time...had i known i would 've bought a calling card that day but i relied on rebtel to make that last phone call... i was far away from the stores so there was no way to get a calling card. I will never forgive rebtel for this....the service is garbage.,they never responded my emails and never reimbursed me ,,i lost all my money..i tried once more days after ,,same sh#$%$t never what you want ,, my advice is get a calling card to make important phone calls.

Alex Drewniak

December 19, 2008 11:08 AM

Hey everyone,

My name is Alex and I work at Rebtel.

After Amy's comments on several Rebtel related blog posts around the web I got in touch with her to resolve her situation. After speaking with each other, we agreed on that she would clarify her statements that she previously posted but by the look of things, she never did. I would usually not ask anyone to clarify, delete or alter their comments about us made in a public forum, but this is an exception. The reason for that is simply that the allegations directed towards us are simply not true.

Instead of Amy finding her way back here; I am hereby taking the liberty of clarifying these statements. I hope that's fine with you, Amy. If it's not, you know how to get in touch with me.

The entire dilemma turned out to be a great big misunderstanding on Amy's part (or rather on her friends part). Her friend living in Vienna simply dialed the "wrong" number. Instead of calling his local Vienna Rebtel number he dialed her actual number and was billed accordingly by his carrier. Naturally, this was an extremely unfortunate mishap but In my opinion it's nothing that we as a company can be held accountable for. I'm sure you would agree with me on this.

Now, Roberto. First off, please accept my condolences for your loss. I'm very sorry to hear that you lost a family member.
Please take my word for that we always do our utmost to guarantee high and reliable quality for our users. In our own opinion, we do that well. I would even go as far as saying that our users agree on that we deliver on that statement. I'm even willing to stick my chin out there and say that you are one of very few people that have experienced bad quality when using the Rebtel service. Nonetheless, the fact remains that you didn't have quite the same experience as they did and there is no excuse for that. None. I understand that my words most likely won't ease your pain but I sincerely hope that we will one day be able to regain your trust.

Lastly, Rebtel is a company built on a moral high grounds from the inside out. We try to be as transparent as we possible can when it comes our service, our communication with our users and everything else revolving around Rebtel. When we do something good, we are quick to announce it. When we screw up, we are even quicker with clearing up our mess. We work hard to provide the world with an honest, cheap and simple solution for making international calls but as you, Roberto, has had the misfortune of experiencing, technology doesn't always work the way you want it to.

If you would like to get in touch with me over the phone or just send an email, please don't hesitate on doing so alexander [dot] drewniak [at] rebtel [dot] com

Merry Christmas,

Alex Drewniak

New Rebtel User

January 1, 2009 10:52 PM

I have just signed up for Rebtel, and have just completed reading all the postings here. Alex from Rebtel - thanks for the clarifications - it is very much appreciated. I hope that my upcoming experience with Rebtel will be a good one.

I have tested the trial and made some other calls. There is some feedback sounds and lagging, but I guess that is the nature on VOIP.


February 13, 2009 6:47 AM

Rebtel is a very good service when it started off but in the last few months I have been suffering from a lot of dropped calls and my Rebtel account gets charged 13 cents everytime.

I call the Philippines regularly so Rebtel saves me a lot of money but I get angry when I suffer from dropped calls. Once is bad enough but twice or even three times in a row is not good enough and puts out a bad image for a company that prides itself on good service and good customer service.

When I call the Philippines I get a ringing tone but the person that I am calling says that at their end their is no ringing or registered missed calls on their phone and they also have a very good cellphone signal. So what is going wrong?

I have emailed Rebtel with a full account of my complaint so I wait their reply.

stefano u.

April 22, 2009 8:20 PM

I have used Rebtel for about three years to make calls between Italy, USA and Germarny. Have had not significant problems and would recommend to anyone.

Sally Rogers

May 7, 2009 10:40 AM

I have been using Rebtel for over 2 years. Good service except that they raise the charges to Malaysia, my home country; I am residing in the U.S. Why? Another grievance I have is the per minute cellphone charge to Australia is very high and I hardly call my son who is studying there because of this. Other than this, I am happy to use Rebtel to call other countries.


July 13, 2009 12:44 PM


I've been using Rebtel for several years, and its far more convenient than calling cards or Lebara.

I have free minutes on my mobile so calling abroad is easy and cheap! I have reccommended this to friends and family, and have heard only good things so far.

I advise anyone who wants convenience and to save money on international calls to definitely use Rebtel! At least try it, you get 5 minutes free calling credit - so you have nothing to lose...

The only thing cheaper is Skype-to-Skype calls.

Michelle P

August 18, 2009 9:27 PM

My experience with rebtel has been good overall. I sometimes have dropped calls but it's not often (like once a month). I think it depends on the country you are calling. I call from the US to Chile and have problems roughly 1/30 of the time. My friends that call from the US to China and India told me they have never had dropped calls though. So, I suspect it all depends on the country you are calling...

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Bloomberg Businessweek writers Peter Burrows, Cliff Edwards, Olga Kharif, Aaron Ricadela, and Douglas MacMillan, dig behind the headlines to analyze what’s really happening throughout the world of technology. Tech Beat covers everything from tech bellwethers like Apple, Google, and Intel and emerging new leaders such as Facebook to new technologies, trends, and controversies.



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