The Worst Phone Service / Bar-none
My experience with Vonage has been mirrored by the comments I read below and the complaints I have since found on the internet. I desperately wish I had done my homework before starting service with this company. They hands down have the worst customer service I have ever had the displeasure of being in contact with. After establishing service with this company I had numerous phone calls with their technical department due to my connection never working correctly. I repeatedly had disconnected calls. I also found that the phone system interfered with my internet connection, causing my internet to constantly disconnect. Vonage was unable to resolve the issue, but they absolutely refused to disconnect my service without charging me a high fee to disconnect. I was told if I waited out my “contract period” (oh yes they have a contract, despite the fact they advertise no contracts!) then I would not be charged a fee. This I did, for 6 months I kept my connection to Vonage but had to get another phone service that actually worked. So while I was not using Vonage, I was being charged for it. At the end of my contract period I again called them to disconnect my service.
That was the hardest task imaginable. They tried to refuse, they gave me such a run around that I was literally on the phone with them for 45 minutes. After finally disconnecting my service I too was charged the disconnection fee stated in other complaints, although I had been told by the customer service in my previous attempts to disconnect that I would not be charged if I waited through my contract! Vonage is a Fraud in my opinion; please do your research before ever signing up with this company… I imagine it’s easier to get out of jail than get out of there “service web”.
Vonage requires customers to cancel service by calling a toll-free number, as service cancellation is not available on-line. The direct number for cancellation is 1-888-879-1978. Customer descriptions of the cancellation process frequently involve hold times of approximately twenty-five (25) minutes, depending on call volume. Difficulties faced by customers when attempting to cancel Vonage were detailed in a May 2006 Wall Street Journal article which related one customer's experience with a Vonage representative who refused to cancel an account unless a repair attempt was allowed by the customer. In the last 12 month reporting period, the Better Business Bureau has closed 3687 complaints (as of Oct 2007). The balance of complaints centered on service, billing and refund issues.
Despite marketing their service as having no contracts or long-term commitments, Vonage charges customers a fee for cancellation within the two years of service, changed from one year February 1st, 2007. This fee is noted in the provider's Terms of Service when a customer signs up or attempts to access his Web Account. The fee is $39.99 per physical voice line which is disconnected. This fee does not apply to dedicated fax lines, virtual telephone numbers, or the computer-based "SoftPhone" lines. A "Rebate Recovery" fee is also assessed if the account is canceled after the 30-day, money-back guarantee, but before 180 days of service. Different for each device, this fee is the "instant rebate" offered on the Web site during sign-up; this protects the company from having bogus accounts created and canceled shortly thereafter by scammers seeking free or discounted routers that may then be sold for profit. Vonage charges $39.99 to every customer who discontinues service—for any reason.
The customer may avoid these fees if he cancels service before the end of the money-back-guarantee period, which sometimes varies between 30 days to 60 days, depending on the sign up terms and frequency of communication with Vonage Customer Service. Often, representatives attempt to retain a customer by extending the money-back-guarantee period. Upon cancellation of the account, the customer is responsible for the cost of return shipping to Vonage.
As of March 2007, the FCC maintains that Local Number Portability rules do not apply to VoIP service providers such as Vonage; however, Vonage states that subscriber numbers may be transferred to other companies per its Terms of Service (section 6.6). Vonage states that LNP transfers are handled by Focal Communications, but Focal was acquired by Broadwing Corporation which itself was acquired by Level 3 Communications.
VOIP service is dependent on consistent broadband-ISP uptime and VOIP-equipment compatibility with the ISP's modem.
There have been widespread reports of difficulty in operating Fax machines on Vonage lines, either dedicated Fax lines, or regular Vonage lines. Difficulties have also been reported with residential alarm systems and TiVo.
When using a fax machine, it is suggested that users connect their fax directly into the VoIP adapter, regardless of the provider. This ensures the fewest variables in a specific network setup. In addition, users should ensure that an "Error Correction Mode" or "ECM Mode" is disabled on their fax machines as this compounds problems and distortion regarding the compression, decompression, and transmission of data communications through a VoIP provider. Also the "Baud Rate" should be lowered to no more than "9600". When faxing the fax should be set to "Standard" instead of "Photo or Fine." It is important to note with faxing that your internet connection more than Vonage really dictates if you are going to be able to fax consistently. There are also settings on the device such as codces, jitter buffer and rx tx gains that can be adjusted to improve Vonage faxing. All these things combined make faxing with Vonage close to faxing over a landline.
Vonage suggests that customers contact their local home alarm system operator to determine whether their existing home alarm solution is compatible with any VoIP provider. Vonage does not make specific recommendations about security systems. However, Vonage does specifically mention alarm.com as being compatible because it uses wireless technology rather than depending on a phone line.
TiVo's Series 1 units contain only telephone ports to connect to a wall jack. Series 2 and Series 3 hardware contains an ethernet jack, and optionally supports USB-based WiFi adapters, which typically do work properly with VoIP providers. At one point, the initial connection made by the TV unit required the use of a regular telephone landline prior to use with a broadband connection, but this limitation was removed in 2005 with TV version 7.2.
Vonage's Technical Support states that their phone system does not work with alarm systems. They did state that it is sometimes possible to get a Brink alarm system to work with their system. It is most important to make sure your alarm system will be able to call out to fire or police before switching over. Additionally, Vonage installs under a two-year contract, wherein cancellation within that time period results in $150 or more in fees.