May 09, 2005


They may have raised $200 million in venture capital but Vonage still stinks. I've been a customer for seven months and my recommendation is . . . avoid.*

Why? Because it just doesn't work reliably. You can't depend on the service being there when you need it. If you don't care about reliability, then sure, I suppose Vonage is a value. But who doesn't care about reliability?

Imagine if the plain old telephone company worked the way Vonage worked. Nobody would put up with it. Why do customers put up with Vonage's nonsense?

A summary of my Vonage experience so far in 2005:

  • The website is terribly slow. It takes a long time to log in, and a longer time to review one's voicemail or call activity. Often, one's account pages are unavailable for access.

  • On a regular basis, the phone rings but there would be nobody there. Someimes it rings several times over the course of a few minutes, but there's never anyone there. Then later, you find out that someone important was trying to call you.

  • The more important the call, the more likely that every thirty seconds or so, the audio quality of voice of the other caller will disintegrate into garbled nonsense for about 3 seconds before returning to normal. And the more important the call, the more likely that the caller is saying the really important piece of information during those three garbled seconds.

  • Every three months or so, you find you have no phone service -- when you pick up the phone you get a beep-beep-beep-beep fast busy signal. The service gets restored after about three days of complete outage.

  • A week ago, a new problem emerged: every thirty seconds exactly, a painfully loud buzz could be heard. So loud that I would have to hold the handset away from my ear. The other caller would hear the buzz too. No matter whether I made the call or received the call, the buzz would appear every 30 seconds during the entire length of a call. One upside: the buzz was present when I called Vonage for tech support. It took two hours of multiple phone calls including multiple cell phone calls to identify the problem as having to do with the Linksys WRT54GP2 router. Weird, how Vonage can remotely control that box and you have no idea what settings they're changing. Unfortunately, this "fix" did not extend to the fax line. Plug the fax line in, and try to make a fax, and you get the buzz sound all the time -- not just every thirty seconds, but all the time. Vonage told me Thursday they would overnight me a replacement router. It never showed up on Friday.

    As I said, if you care about reliability, avoid Vonage.

    *You're probably asking yourself, why have you been a customer for seven months if they're so bad? Well, I don't plan to be a customer much longer. Posted by brian at May 9, 2005 08:32 AM

  • Comments

    I have been customer of Vonage since Jan 2005 and I have found the service very reliable. My voice mails are easily accessed and my calls are clear for extended period of time. I also have several friends that use the services also and they have nothing but good thing to say about Vonage. The service so good that I purchase a second line for my teenage kids, and because it is VOIP I use my firewall to restrict the times that they can use the phone. Anyone with teenager knows what I am referring too.

    Posted by: David at June 10, 2005 10:01 PM

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