Loud Music is a $40 Fine

Just my personal blog.

January 11, 2007

A Vonage Adage

We decided we needed an incoming phone line for Fine Art Touch. A friend of mine has been using Vonage for a while now, and he loves it, so I figured why not try Vonage. I went to their web site on Monday night (January 8th) where I started the order, but I had a few questions, so I figured I’d call Vonage directly and complete the order.

The person I talked to at Vonage was obviously a non-native English speaker. But his accent wasn’t that hard to understand, so I didn’t think anything about it. Anyway, I wanted to get the unlimited line ($24.99 month), a toll-free number ($4.99 month), and a fax line ($9.99 month). On the Vonage site, they advertise a “Free phone adapter if you sign up directly from Vonage”. The phone adapter supports up to two lines and lets you plug into any network port and have phone access. It’s portable so you can take it with you and anywhere you can plug into a network connection instantly becomes a phone line. Nice.

Vonage also had a nifty cordless phone available with a base that plugged directly into the network port. I figured that was perfect for what we needed. So, I ordered Vonage’s unlimited service, toll-free number, fax, and the Vtech cordless phone.

Or so I thought.

When they started talking about “activation fees” and “cancellation fees”, that should have raised all kinds of red flags. Of course, to get me to order then and there, they waived the activation fee on the unlimited plan. They told me I’d have to pay $81.49 to get the order completed. Then I got two emails confirming my order, one with the $81.49 amount, and another with an amount of $17.81 for the toll-free number activation and fees. Should have been another red flag.

The equipment was delivered today. Setup was relatively painless, and I was able to make calls within a few minutes of opening the box. But I noticed that the “Free phone adapter” wasn’t in the box. And then I realized that there wasn’t anything in those emails about a fax line. This should have been yet another red flag.

I figured the “Free phone adapter” was on back order or in another shipment, but I decided to call and make sure. That was an eye opener.

It became obvious that they out source their customer service calls to a country of non-native English speakers. I asked the rep nicely about the free phone adapter. After a few minutes, I finally figured out he was telling me that since I’d ordered another phone, I didn’t get the phone adapter. In other words, you don’t get the free phone adapter if you order any other phone equipment. I said “but it says FREE phone adapter” on your web site, but he pretty much indicated that it was my misunderstanding, because in effect, when I opted for the wireless phone, I declined the “free” phone adapter. And, since I’d declined the phone adapter (which supports two lines), and got the wireless phone (which only supports one line), I basically nullified my fax order, since you need equipment that can handle two lines for that. If I wanted the fax, I’d have to go to Best Buy or Radio Shack or Wal-mart to get the phone adapter, then go to their web site and order it.

At that point, I asked for a supervisor. Surprise! A lady came on the line who spoke English! Didn’t help much. She reiterated what the first person had told me. By that time I was pretty angry. I told her that this was borderline fraud (which didn’t phase her) and that I was thisclose to canceling the account. Still didn’t phase her. But we really needed the phone line for Fine Art Touch, so I hung up without getting any satisfaction.

After a few hours to think about it, I figured I’d call back and see if I could get them to send me the “free phone adapter” anyway, just to keep a customer and keep the customer happy. But for some reason, I got the urge to do a Google search on “Vonage complaints“. Wish I had done that before ordering. Based on what I read, I decided to just out and out cancel the service. The lady told me that I’d get all the money back, so I figured that was the best option.

I dialed their number and navigated my way through their menus, only to get to a message that told me their customer service center closed at 8:00 pm. Nuts.

So, that’s where I am right now. Tomorrow I’m going to call them and cancel the order. Who knows how long it’ll take to actually get the $100 back. Judging from some of the complaints, I need to send the phone back with some type of signature receipt; seems like a big issue is that Vonage claims they didn’t get the equipment back and continues to charge the customer.

I’ll find another vendor for VOIP. But first I’m going to do my research. If anyone has any recommendations, leave me a comment.