Exposing the Cisco Call Manager License Scam

Exposing the Cisco Call Manager License Scam

Different Models

In general Cisco sells two types of IP phones, licensed and unlicensed (aka spares). Licensed phones include a Call Manager license and are recognized by the 'CH1' in the model number. A licensed 7940G model number would be CP-7940G-CH1, a 7960G would be CP-7960G-CH1. An unlicensed phone also called a spare, is sold by Cisco as a replacement phone - if one of your licensed phone breaks you can replace it with a spare and transfer the license.

Spares are also popular with the Asterisk community because they are much cheaper than a licensed phone and a Call Manager license is not neccessary if the phone will be used with Asterisk. Spare models can be recognized because they do not have 'CH1' in the model number. A spare 7940G model number would be CP-7940G= and a 7960G would be CP-7960G=.

The Scam

The scam arises when someone needs to purchase a phone that will be used on a Call Manager network. The dealer usually advertises CP-7940G-CH1 (or any licensed model) at a very low price on eBay, their website or some comparison shopping site. When they show up at your door they are CP-7940G= which is the unlicensed spare version. Most people do not know the difference so they do not think much of it when the model numbers do not match up. There is a 7940G in the box and that's what they ordered so it must be ok right? Wrong - if you don't need a license, don't pay for a license. If you need the license make sure the boxes have 'CH1' in the model number on the factory Cisco label.

If you call the dealer they will often say that they bought unlicensed phones and the Call Manager licenses separately, bundled them together and sold the bundle to you. They then might point to the End User License Agreement (EULA) which is included with all phones (licensed and unlicensed) and say that it is the Call Manager license. This is outright fraud and if it happens to you the phones should be returned immediately.

I have even seen dealers photo copy the Call Manager license, print out a licensed model number on a label maker and stick it to the box, then call it a licensed phone. If you put these phones on a Call Manager network you will be in violation of Cisco software licensing policies, will be subject to fines and forced to pay for license upgrades.

How to Avoid

Before buying call the dealer and ask them if the phone comes with 'CH1' on the factory Cisco label and if it includes the original Call Manager license inside the box. Make them be verbally explicit that what they are selling is a legitimate Call Manager licensed phone and let them know that you are aware of the Call Manager license scam. Ask them if you end up receiving spares from them will pay for return shipping and not charge a restocking fee. Most of the time they will not want to hassle with it if they know that you know the deal and quickly end the conversation.

Detailed Licensed IP Phone Model Numbers:


Detailed Unlicensed IP Phone Model Numbers:


Created by: aethernet, Last modification: Mon 15 of Jan, 2007 (05:57 UTC) by syburgh
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