If you ever consider cheap and inexpensive telephone service', and are risk tolerant, I mean, high risk with probability of 90% and impact being your service can be DEAD at any time then Vonage may be your best option. Before you consider, however, read my story and be the judge.
I had two lines from Vonage, one for home and one for business. I work form home and use the business line a lot, much of that are conference calls. I have been experiencing dropped calls for months now, cut off calls would be heard with dial tone coming up, or dead. I reported of this issue a number of times since I started using the service in 2004. Vonage tried to tweak settings at their end, mostly maximizing the assigned bandwidth to 90 kbps, which I could do, too, using the portal. They switched the lines between the ports on the router. Nothing of that ever helped.
Last Friday (Jan 23) I made a new call to customer service to report the problem again. This time a tech decided to replace the router (provided by Vonage). Good news, I thought. The next morning I found out that both lines were dead, when picked up a received the router instantaneously plays the burned in the chip message your phone may be plugged to the incorrect phone port.
Sun, Jan 25: I called Vonage again. A tech rep informed me that I ordered (Vonage did, not I!) a replacement router, which would arrive within 5 -7 business days, and because the new router is pre-configured the old one (MAC address) has been removed from the gateway, so it no longer can operate. I requested to immediately reverse the action and restore the old unit to service explaining that only one line was reported faulty and that I lost phone service in my home, including access to 911. I demanded that the routers would be switched only when the replacement unit arrived to my home, and until then at least the good line must stay in service. The tech put me on hold and came back with a statement that network engineers' told him it could not be done during weekends, I must wait for a new router or call on Monday. He gave me a ticket number for reference.
Mon, Jan 26, 8 AM: I called Vonage again. I presented the ticket number asking for status. The agent said the service cannot be restored until the new router arrives. I asked for supervisor. The tech hung up on me. Nobody called me back on my cell phone.
Mon, Jan 26, 10:23 AM I got an email sent by machine, and saying Vonage Service Request Resolved. I checked the lines, still the same message.
Mon, Jan 26, 11 AM: I called Vonage again. I asked for the ticket status. An agent looked into the records and could not find the ticket. I asked for supervisor, the agent put me on hold and the call dropped.
Mon, Jan 26, 1 AM (needed to do some work in between the calls); I called Vonage again and asked for the ticket status. I heard the same story, i.e., only the new router could resolve the situation.
Mon, Jan 26, 1:10 AM I called Vonage and chose the option cancel the service. The call was answered by a person willing to listen to my complaint and admitted it was a disaster on the Vonage part. She put me on hold while escalating, then returned with a statement that the old MAC addresses would be restored, but the cycle takes 24 hours. She gave me a new ticket number and took my cell phone number ensuring somebody would follow up with me next morning.
Tue, Jan 27 10 AM: The lines play the same message. No calls or vmail from VG on my cell phone. I called then again and asked for ticket status. The agent advised that I must wait for the replacement modem. I asked for supervisor, was put on hold and the call dropped.
Tue, Jan 27 10:23 AM: I got an email fromVG saying:
Thank you for contacting Vonage, the award winning digital phone service!
I understand you would like to cancel the order for replacement of your phone adapter.
I am sorry for the inconvenience caused.
Our records indicate that your shipment is about to be shipped so we do not have the option to cancel the shipment hence I request you to call our customer care apeak to the shipping department immediately to cancel the shipping order before the phone adapter is shipped.
Vonage Customer Care
Tue, Jan 27 12:30 PM: I called Vonage and cancelled the faulty line. No questions were asked, the order was smoothly processed, polite and happy customer service!
Tue, Jan 27 3:37 PM: Received email Your Vonage Order has been shipped this is a Motorola router that takes 5 7 b days to deliver.
Tue, Jan 27 4 PM: Called Vonage, asked for status of the new ticket. The agent did not recognize it. I gave her the other recent ticket numbers, no luck either. I asked for supervisor. A lady listened to my story then checked the status and advised that a router replacement shows status waiting provisioning, which she interpreted as it got stuck in the warehouse waiting for release docs. Then she put on the call a technical rep in NJ, who apologized for this disaster and said that network engineers had already left for the day, so I needed to wait till next day. Also, he could not map any of the numbers onto my Vonage USB device so I could use the line from my computer independent from the router, the feature was blocked by the router replacement order!
Wed Jan 28: 12:30 PM: The router plays the same message on both ports (only one line is expected to work this time since I cancelled the other). No messages from Vonage.
To be continued.
Here is some other data to consider.
1.Vonage is in financial dire straights, the stock (traded on NYSE) is about to be delisted (here is an old story: http://www.fiercevoip.com/story/more-bad-news-vonage/2008-10-31?utm_medium=rss&utm_source=rss&cmp-id=OTC-RSS-FV0
Today the stock trades at $0.55, and unless Barney Frank gives them a personal', naturally paid by your tax money, bailout (won't be his first!), the company will be delisted and then probably go for Chatper 7.
2.The company is grossly mismanaged, the operations and customer service is as good the Zimbabwe's fund raising campaign' through the scam emails asking you to send them $2k so you can get your lottery winnings.
4. Vonage got booted by Better Business Bureau for
In my opinion:
1.The customer service is poorly trained, lacks basics skills
2.The support processes are broken, departments are disconnected, messages disappear from the systems, customer reps have no access to tech support to effectively resolve issues, the T2, T3 tech departments are disconnected from the customer support process. If you are technical enough and understand the technology you will quickly understand how misguided the reps are when asking you standard questions'.
3.Customer support personnel are rude and unprofessional in their attitude. Proper training and supervision is apparently absent.
4.Quality of voice service is below other VoIP options. Vonage uses some CODEC (an algorithm encoding / decoding analog signal to digital data steam) that requires unreasonably high bandwidth (90 kbps is preferred!). This has not improved since I started using the service in Dec 2004. Quality of what Skype offers is much better, in my opinion, voice sounds better and clearer and yet uses a small fraction of bandwidth. So, I conclude that the CTO is sitting on his hands.
Finally, I do not believe that the average employees are responsible for this situation. Fish start rot from the head. It is clear that the executive and mid level management are incompetent and have driven the company to the ground. It is sad that this once promising company have put at risks employees and their families. For their sake I hope that VG board of directors (including the former Secretary of Home Security Tom Ridge) will fire all that entourage and get professionals rebuild the company. Vonage is needed to survive to help breaking the monopoly of the other fat cats carriers that rob us in a day light by offering outdated services. Korea enjoys 25 megabit per second on their cell phones, while we still pay hefty price for the wired Internet services offering less than 20% of that (see the Feb 2 issue of Forbes magazine for an interesting article by Lee Gomes Bring HD into Focus).
Charlotte, North Carolina