Wednesday, September 05, 2007

VONAGE sucks!

The Cerebral Itch offices were recently faced with a technical dilemma that we thought an established brand in the IP telephony space could solve. We tripped on over to the Vonage website and found that we could try them out for a month free and no one would get hurt.

Well, is my ass sore. Vonage turns out to be a den of duplicitous pricks who have nothing better to do than piss people off with fine print. Here's how they get you:

$99.99 VTech IP8100-1
($80.00) VTech IP8100-1
$29.99 Activation Fee
$14.99 Residential Basic 500 Plan
$0.99 Regulatory Recovery Fee
$0.99 Emergency 911 Cost Recovery
$1.01 Federal Universal Service Fee:
$9.95 Shipping

Okay, fine. give me a phone for twenty bucks after your $80 rebate. No skin off your nose Vonage considering the sweet OEM deal you probably have with VTech that let's you buy the things for $5 a piece. I guess I'll let you stick me with the always nebulous "Activation Fee"; which you'd think in this day and age it wouldn't cost $30 to assign me a number and flip a goddamn switch. So, $77.81 all total ain't free, but I know nothing in this world is except advice from father-in-laws and pain in the ass CPA's who think they know your business better than you, but I digress.

Now pay attention, this is where they light the candles, cue the smooth R&B and get ready to violate you.

We found the service marginal, customer support "occidental" and not "continental" if you get my drift. And after a month we realized we could do better with more reliable technology (if you're curious, that would be a 6.0 Ghz DECT landline phone - the new no-interference standard for cordless phones). So one phone call later to Kamal (I swear that is his real name) at Vonage Customer support allows me to discover that it's going to cost me more to kill my service than to sign up for it. The classic bait and switch that apparently has the blessing of the FCC. This is how the weasels get you on the way out:

$80 to rescind their rebate - because now you own the phone. That's right, they will not take their equipment back. Circuit City? They'll take back a phone you bought from them. Best Buy? Them too. Vonage? No dice. So now you're stuck with a piece of shit phone that wont work with conventional phone lines. Then there's the final slap on the ass as they push you out of the car half naked and weeping: a $40 DE-activation fee. 40 f*cking dollars to flip the switch the other way. Apparently $10 more labor is required to type "off" than "on".

Plus while I'm trying to break it off with Vonage, Kamal is politely and robotically going through his 4-inch 3-ring binder executing all stages of his customer service training attempting to retain my business; which is pissing me off even more. The real kicker came when I finally convinced Kamal that I wanted nothing more to do with him or his American corporate overlords. Within 10 seconds my email pinged with a deactivation notice from Vonage. I laughed and commended him on such speed in saying goodbye. Apparently $40 buys you that kind of efficiency.

(Vonage side note: doing a search on Google for the phrase "Vonage Sucks" gets you about 15,400 returns - I kid you not)

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