Well, I just finished up my 1 year 'ordeal' with the Vonage service. When I signed up they 'conveniently' didn't mention that the service didn't work with satellite based internet service providers. Over the course of a year I must have spent 40 to 50 hours on the phone working with their technicians to get the service to work. At one point, they offered to send me out a new wireless router in the hopes that it would solve the problem We tried that but I should mention that they 'conveniently' forgot to mention that I would have to pay to ship back the original one.
Well, when that didn't work - no real surprise to me - I was told that while I could cancel the service right then and there I would still be on the 'hook' for the remainder of the one year term (two more months). However, and this is the ONLY decent thing that Vonage ever did, I was given a two month credit to carry me through to the end of the 1 year term.
My one year term ended a few days ago so I called up to disconnect the service. Thinking that it would be a simple "sorry to lose you' followed by each of us going our own way, I was 'nailed' not only by the $39.99 cancellation fee but I was also told that I would have to pay the next month of the regular service charge - because my cancellation was ocurring on the second day into the new billing month.
While I could tell you how I spent the next hour and a half trying to talk some sense into their head I'll spare you the boredome of the details. In the end, however, I kept my calm but reslove and I did get them to drop the portion for the upcoming month and only had to pay the $39.99 plus tax on the cancellation fee. Needless to say, though not trusting that it was "finally" over, I made the girl stay on the phone until I received the email stating that my account was closed and the balance was paid in full.
Even with that though, I do plan on filing a "formal" complaint (per their fine print) and force the dispute to go into arbitration. I figure if they're going to squeeze me for roughly $40, I'm going to get it back in time and inconvenience - not on purpose (of course). I figure that with the hour and a half on the phone today, I must have taged them for a bit on their toll free line. Even if they pay no fees on the minutes of usage on the toll free line, the employee time that they had to pay was worth at least a third of that; what business school did these idiots go to? As for me, I work from home so putting the speaker phone and chating with them for however long is necessary isn't a real inconvenience - at least for me.
I really do feel sorry for the girl in the billing department that I was dealing with though. By the sound of her voice, it really sounded like she was getting reamed over good by irate customers.
I guess, when all is said and done, what really surprises me is that they obviously feel that their customer base must be endless. I mean, for the sake of a measly (to them, not me) $40, their willingess to accept the chance that I can, and might, do everything I can to cost them future business, just blows my mind. If I were inclined to spread the 'word' to say 5 potential customers a month, and being in the computer business that can easily happen, that could mean 60 customers a year with each being worth $600 over the course of a two year contract. Hmmmm, lets see, $600*60.....$36,000. I hope that they feel that my $40 could be potentially worth that - even a tenth of that. You have to admire their confidence - or was that errogance?
Hey - did you know that Vonage sells their product in Wally World? I wonder what would happen if Wally got inundated with letters of "concern" for their dealing with a vendor which has such a poor customer service attitude. After all - Wally takes allot of pride in their own service standards, it would sure be a shame to be associated with such a looser company as Vonage. You know I actually wrote an email to Wally once to complain about one of their products (Maxell) and its misleading packaging. Well I'll be darned if I didn't get a personal phone call from the 'dude' at Maxell in charge of that packaging a few weeks later apologizing to me personally and you know what? A few weeks later the packaging was changed. Wally carries clout!
Hmmmmmm! Maybe it's time to take on these big, non-caring, corporations from the flank instead of head on.