Vonage loves bad profits Internet
I'm afraid that my story is not any different than anyone else here except that I was stupid enough to read the rip-off reports first and then STILL purchase Vonage's service.
To be fair, my issue also involves getting an AT&T dry loop installed, which they said they couldn't do because Vonage had taken up the line AT&T needed for the DSL. After some months of monkeying around with both companies and paying Vonage for a service I haven't been able to use for nearly a year, I decided to cancel. You would think that canceling would be easy, but after two runarounds, one disconnect and another conversation with the mysterious Maria, I was finally able to cancel.
And - you guessed it! - the cancelation came with an early termination fee because I hadn't fulfilled my TWO year committment (my bad, I guess - I thought it was for one year) and I had to pay back the rebate on my equipment, which apparently was $74.90:
As outlined in our Terms of Service, a disconnect fee of $39.99 per voice line is charged to all customers along with any applicable taxes. Your total debit of $114.89 includes this disconnect fee, all pending charges, credits, and applicable taxes. For more information about our return policy, please refer to our Terms of Service:http://www.vonage.com/features_terms_service.php.
I told Maria that I would honor the terms of the contract, but she had the opportunity to salvage the customer relationship with me by waiving the fees. It costs companies about $50,000 to win new customers, so it was a deal for them to waive the $114.89 to keep goodwill and the possibility that I might return to them someday. OR, she could charge me and ensure that I will never, ever, ever use their services again. Of course, the negative word-of-mouth will be supplied at no cost. She stated that there was nothing she could do about the charges because they are automatically billed. Fine, I said, you've just lost a customer forever.
Now, I'm not necessarily a huge fan of Fred Reichheld, however, he's right on when he talks about bad profits and Vonage is clearly a company addicted to bad profits:
Too many companies are addicted to bad profitsprofits that come at customers' expense and drain the value out of customer relationships. Whenever a customer feels misled, mistreated, ignored, or coerced, then profits from that customer are bad. Bad profits come from unfair or misleading pricing. Bad profits arise when companies save money by delivering a lousy customer experience. Bad profits are about extracting value from customers, not creating value. (reference: http://www.theultimatequestion.com/theultimatequestion/good_profits.asp?groupCode=2)
It's too bad. Vonage had the potential to be a very good company.
South Bend, IndianaU.S.A.