July 02, 2005

A Vonage-Free Work Environment

Been a while since I've blogged. One thing I've been meaning to blog about is ending Vonage service.

The experience was about what I expected, with one pleasant surprise.

On June 6th, I called Vonage to tell them I wanted to cancel. Got put on hold. Finally got someone on the line. "What is the reason" she asked. "The service has been unreliable at best, and I cannot afford to spend 3 hours to 3 days every quarter diagnosing Vonage problems." "Ok let me connect you with the account management group," she said. On hold again. Long wait listening to noisy music. "Thank you for calling Sales, this is Alex how can I help you?" a voice says (amid what was one of the most impressively loud cacophonies of call center voices in the background: imagine a room the size of a football field filled with telemarketers yakking on the phone). Tells me he's gonna give me a ticket number, and says someone from the "cancellation department" will be getting back in touch with me. Total call time 11 minutes.

By June 15th I'd never heard back from Vonage (no surprise there). Funny thing is, maybe they tried to call, but my phone never rang. Or their message wasn't saved in voicemail. After all, it would have been a Vonage phone number they'd have been calling, and anything's possible. I call Vonage again at 8:29am. "Thank you for your loyalty as a customer," the recorded announcement begins. Yeah, right. I get someone on the line, give them my ticket number. Now they need to "verify information". I give them some information to verify. I pass that test. Then they ask me, "Why are you cancelling" and I give the same reasons I gave last time. "Sir if you don't mind holding please thank you -- CLICK" and she puts me on hold. Loud rock and roll music and Vonage voiceovers about being part of the revolution. I so do NOT want to be a part of the Vonage "revolution". Finally get another rep on the phone, who says I am about to receive an email confirmation of the cancellation of service. And of course, this new rep couldn't resist asking me AGAIN what my reason was for cancelling. "Your account is completely null at this point," the rep tells me. I was expecting to be charged a $39.95 cancellation fee --- I'd heard that this was the way Vonage punished customers who ended their service. No cancellation fee for me. I didn't ask them, they didn't bring it up. Done at 8:40. Another 11 minutes.

Now, flash back to May. I'd called SBC, the Phone Company, and told them I wanted phone service. I found I had to explain to them slowly and carefully that I was using Vonage (which they didn't seem to have heard of). They could not understand the concept of Voice over IP. They connected me to the "WinBack" department -- I guess SBC has a program sort of like Apple's famous "Switch" gimmick for former PC users. So SBC was winning me back, except, I was never an SBC customer before. Oh well. Anyway, it took about 45 minutes to an hour to place an order for two business lines, gen-yoo-ine POTS lines, for the office. Then they had to get me on the line with some independent organization who drilled me with a series of questions (which they recorded) about whether I was authorized to get these lines and change service and move the phone numbers from Vonage to SBC, yadda yadda.

Long story short, the office now has old-skool SBC telephone lines. We don't use no stinking internets. And guess what. Stuff works. Phone rings when someone calls. Voicemail works. I no longer worry about what business calls I am completely missing because of Vonage.

It's fun not being a part of that particular revolution.

Posted by brian at July 2, 2005 12:46 PM


I fired Qwest a couple years ago and it felt WONDERFUL.

Congrats on being part of the world again.


Posted by: Keeme at July 4, 2005 02:41 AM

I'm surprised the Vonage "Winback" department didn't work you over as they did me...they kept me on the phone for over 15 minutes, lowering their price a couple of times until they finally realized I was serious about canceling...then it was over in a few short minutes.

This so reminds me of the bad old, early days of dial-up when early adopters signed onto and canceled a series of providers until the services and support infrastructure of these companies matured enough to be tolerable.

We'll be back to the revolution soon enough, I suspect.

Posted by: Michael Parekh at July 5, 2005 08:20 AM

i'm really glad i read this today since next week the office was going to sign up with vonage. we had someone come in last month and sell us on how great their service is. but i think i just changed my mind.....

Posted by: leahpeah at July 11, 2005 02:21 PM

It's amazing that this company still exists... I work in Telecommunications serving thousands of locations with telecommunications services. My aunt asked that I install 8 Vonage lines she purchased for her B&B. I reluctantly agreed, biggest mistake of my life. I have been out here (2 hour drive) over 12 times in the past 2 months with nothing but problems. This time I'm sitting here on hold for 20 minutes as 5 of the 8 adapters have "lost their configuration". So the technology sucks, we understand that, but on top of the horrible service, their customer service has got to be the biggest joke I've ever come across. 20 minutes just to get to a Customer Service rep whom is just going to transfer me to a Technical Support rep whom knows nothing about anything! Sheesh, I can't take this anymore.... GIVE ME POTS PLEASE!!!

Posted by: Tony at July 12, 2005 03:30 PM

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