Vonage Complaint - Moneysuckers! Minimal functionality, maximum cancellation firewalling!
What a terrible experience! I bought into the ads that touted how easy it is to use the V-phone. 'MAKE CALLS ANYWHERE!" is the tagline, but it's not so. If you should attempt to use your V-phone on a network that has a firewall (and we know almost nobody uses firewalls), you're going to have to find a network administrator to help you figure out a work-around. But, according to the legions of personnel that are hired to convince you not to cancel your service, it is a really great device if you want to use it in hotels and any UNSECURE networks you might happen to find - so it's such a great service, right?
The first phone I received wouldn't work at all, and after interpreting a succession of Filipina tech support girls til 1:30 in the morning, I got tired of rebooting my computer and decided to cancel. I didn't need another networking device to try to figure out. But you can only cancel during the day. So I dutifully made the call the next day, and allowed myself to be convinced to try another phone. The representative told me I would receive a phone without charge, and with a return label to use to ship the old phone back.
When I got the new phone, I noticed that the package was factory sealed, unlike the inoperable first phone I received. I did not receive the return shipping label. But I plugged the V-phone into my laptop on my home wireless network, and it worked right away. I went to sleep satisfied, still trying to catch up on the lost sleep from last week's "Vonage Adventure".
I was excited to take my phone to work with my laptop, and had lots of calls to make. But it wouldn't work. I did round up my network administrator (you know they have nothing to do, which makes them instantly available -NOT!), and he informed me that there was no firewall that would prevent the operation of the phone, and he could find no reason that it would not work - from our company network at least. Back to cancellation - but on my first call the girl cut me off after I told her that I didn't want tech support, I just wanted to cancel. Apparently the "savers" are tracked by percentage of "saves", and she didn't want to risk her average. When I called back and talked with the next guy, he chuckled at my analysis of the reason I was cut off, and told me that he would have to turn me over to another rep to disconnect the service. Then he cut me off.
The NEXT time I called, I started right out by telling the guy that if HE cut me off, my next call would be to the Federal Communications Commission. He proceeded to listen to my problem, and seemed to understand, and politely asked if I would be willing to speak with a high-level tech support person. I told him that I would, since he didn't hang up on me. I told him that I really wanted and needed the service, but that I didn't need one more device that was a hassle to use. The new tech support guy tried to give me a workaround to allow me to connect through a funky network, and that when the V-phone had found its way out, it would always be able to do it. Well, it worked then, and I thanked him. A few minutes later, it was down again, and the workaround would not repeat its magic performance. At least it was a "save" for him and the other guy (again, fair enough, because they didn't just hang up on me).
The NEXT call to Cancellation (it's the fastest way to get to Tech Support) got me through to yet another "high-level" technician, who advised me that the "magic bullet" workaround was only temporary until the network detected it and blocked it. So I was back at the basic issue of impracticality, since I would be traveling and using it primarily in corporate networks. He told me it would be great for unsecured networks, like at the hotel, or bars, but who's working on their computer most of the time in those places? Anyway, I asked to be transferred to SOMEONE who would finally DISCONNECT me once and for all.
I guess they found some unsuspecting chump to take a "dead" save attempt. The Cancellation Rep was about what you'd expect once you get to that point, all full of rules and requirements, and happy to inform me that I would receive a refund of all the money I'd been charged, including the charge for the second phone and service that I didn't even know they'd billed. Despite my questions, I just received his apologies and a list of requirements that had to be met before I could ship the phones back at my own expense. But with one last ditch attempt at trying to turn me into a "save", he recommended the $89.95 Wi-Fi phone that would be "much more successful at connecting". But I told him I looked at that phone first, and abandoned the idea because even THEIR promotional material made a point of mentioning the difficulty of connecting with that device. What a load of crap!
At the moment, I don't know whether I'll actually receive my money back, because they also said that I could "MAKE CALLS ANYWHERE", and that wasn't true, either. But ONE DAY, I'll be able to forget about VONAGE, and all the time I wasted at home and at work trying to make their devices work for me. The refund, should it come, does not even begin to recompense the investment I personally made in their technology. As the website suggests, I will "Refer-A-Friend" -- AWAY!!!