Thursday, June 22, 2006

Vonage Hell

Last Fall, I took the bait and joined "the revolution" at Vonage, an internet phone company. At $25/month for unlimited local and long distance, it was half the price of the big boys over at BellSouth. Since BS doesn't know a thing about customer service, I took Vonage's line and boy did they take me for a spin.

I wasn't able to keep my old phone number- that should have been the first red flag- but I didn't mind inconveniencing all my friends and family because I was teaching BellSouth a lesson for their unscrupulous business practice of slamming me over to their long distance without my permission - not that they cared until I took it up with the NC Attorney General.

Guess what? My new number was long distance to everyone in Asheville because Vonage didn't "have a contract" here and my exchange was out of Boone. At the time they had contracts in 90% of the markets in the US. It now stands at 99%, but Asheville still doesn't make it. I spent some time talking with the nice folks at Vonage who fell all over themselves to try to make it right, even giving me a toll free, but totally different number, free for 3 months. Of course, I didn't give it out to anyone; who wants to dial 10 digits to ask your neighbor for a cup of sugar? Still, I stayed with Vonage for 9 months,trying to wait out the contract.

Finally fed up, my DH signed us on with Charter's new phone service, which conveniently included an upgrade in cable just in time for The World Cup. So I called to set up cancellation of our Vonage service. After holding for (and I'm not joking) an hour and half, the polite representative on the end of the phone said I had to call on the day I wanted the service canceled. YIKES. So I called back a couple of weeks later. This time only a 55 minute wait. Woo hoo! The courteous rep told me since I was canceling within a year of my contract, that I had to pay a disconnect fee of forty bucks.

Surely, someone can waive that fee considering no one bothered to tell me I wouldn't have a local number?

No. I can't do it nor is there anyone else here who can.

I asked to speak to her supervisor. There wasn't one there.

Then give me his/her name and I call back.

I'm not allowed to do that. Company policy.

I have to hand it to her. She remained calm and polite, despite my increasing agitation with her inane answers.

What do you suggest I do?

She couldn't answer that.

I finally got her to give me the CEO's name and corporate address. A lot of good that will do.

I'm feeling a little deja vu. I had the same experience with BS, only their phone agents were nasty about it. I even wrote to their "escalation department" with no reply.

Guess I'll have to ask the Attorney General to intervene again. What a freaking pain in the ass. I have to do hours of work to get back what is rightfully mine. It absolutely isn't worth the time it takes to get back $40 ($34 from BS) but it is the principal of the issue. How many others don't have time, or just aren't capable of fighting these battles? How many seniors are out there getting fleeced?

Here's the thing. If Vonage had fair business practices, then I would be happy to give them another chance somewhere down the line, as eventually they will get a contract here. But it doesn't matter. I'm just one customer and my absence won't break the bank. It won't even make a little dent.


Rio said...

Keep fighting! They are just banking on someone not having the time or energy to fight them - and even just one person does make a difference (I keep telling myself that vocationally).

Glenn Condrey said...

Hi...I just had a bad experience with Vonage myself.
I made a payment arrangement for $31.99 because I didn't have the money to pay my bill for December.
No problem they said.
I told them I was going to stop using their I didn't want to continue running up a bill.
Again they said no problem.
I lost my job the day after I had made the arrangements...but I was going to make it right when I got hired on somewhere.
I started using my backup phone its paid for already (I have a wonderfully...shouldn't have made the switch in the firts place. But my wife always complained about I went with a bigger company name she knew.)
Anyway....two months later I get a bill from Vonage for $99.83.
WHen I called to complain...they tell me that I never bothered to disconnect the service.
When I told them that that was what my prior call had been to do...they tell me that ONLY a billing services manager can disconnect my service....and now I owe $189.83.
$39 for a disconnect fee...and $49 for the damned modem.
Happy day I finally get my taxes back...unhappy day the jerks pulled it from my bank account.
A week after I had told them my debit card had been stolen., and I was in the process of getting another one from my bank.
Its always something with these jerks.
When I called back...I asked to speak with a you I was told there wasn't one.
Altho they did offer to get the supervisor to call me back later.