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Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Vonage Saga

Be ready: This is a long post.

First off, let me start by saying that I love Vonage. They have saved me so much money it’s not even funny. I have been a loyal customer since Sept 2003 and have referred many folks. Be that as it may, I had the opportunity to deal with the tec support of Vonage and let me tell you what… It is a mess.

It all started with a towel. Seems that someone threw a towel into the room with the Cisco ATA device and it happened to land on said device. This caused it to over-heat which of course, caused it to no longer function. I called tech support and I had to deal with a first tier tech support dude. Now, those of you who know me know that I did everything within my power to not call in because I am quite familiar with this technology and gadgets in general. But, swallowing my pride, I walked through all the idiot questions and even had to tell the technician (who had never seen/heard of the Cisco ATA) that this device does not have a web interface. After going to a second tier guy several times the guy came back and said that he would ship me a new Linksys device and a shipping label. This new device was the RT31P.. The device comes in and I hook it up. No worries. I still can’t ship the other device back yet as I don’t have the shipping label. An hour after I put the new device in my cell phone rings. It is someone calling me on my home phone which rolls over to cell when the Vonage device is unavailable. Well, seems the new device is no longer working…. After many calls with another technician we determine that we can not reset this device to factory defaults so he is shipping me ANOTHER RT31P. He proceeds to tell me that I will be charged another 99 bucks to which I say, “No you’re not!” He gets his manager who does concede that this is ridiculous and does a delayed bill. I also remind them that I still have not received my shipping label for the first device… Remember the first device…. Well, the next RT31P comes in and I hook it up. Now I have two devices in boxes waiting for labels to send back and make my first call on my new device…..


No dial tone.

At this point I begin to get impatient. I begin to demand that they send me my labels as I don’t want to start another return while I have 2 defective devices already….

I finally get my labels and I send them all back. When I finally get my 99 bucks back I start the process over for the device I have now, which doesn’t work. It is here that I made a good find that I will share with everyone.

If you have to call Vonage tech support, use the following path in the automated attendant (granted this info may change but it was going through the billing department).
2, 2, 1, 2. The phone only rang twice and I always got someone who was easy to understand. I start telling them that I want to speak to a supervisor and almost have to argue with the person because they want me to talk to a technician. I concede and speak to a dude who says that he can fix things. It seems that there is a new model now, RTP300, that has replaced the other model due to reports of failures in the older model. (Duh)
He said he would send me a new model (delayed billing) and have it tested before it was shipped. And for my trouble, he gave me a free month of service. When I checked the next day I still didn’t see any updates on the order. The person I got when I called in said that the order was locked and never released for shipping. He released it and also said he would give me ANOTHER free month of service for my trouble.

The next morning I find an email waiting in my inbox stating that my credit card has been charged another 99 bucks for the shipment of the new device. On top of that, when I log in to look at my account I see that my two months of free service have been removed as well. Well, as you can imagine I am not happy about this. I call in again, using 2212 and DEMAND to speak to a supervisor.

It took a good 20 minuets for the supervisor (Mr. Perry) to grasp the entire fiasco that I have gone through. He immediately cleared the slate. Mr. Perry canceled the order, refunded my money (which only took 1 day to post back to my credit card) and started all over. Within 15 minuets of hanging up with Mr. Perry, my money was on the way home, my two free months were added back in, and the device said it was on the way.

Yesterday, I get my device, plug it in and it works right away. THANK YOU Mr. Perry!!! You rock!

The morale of this story is that VoIP is awesome, it saves money and Vonage is a great company. They have just grown too fast in my opinion and their first round technicians are way under trained. I am not sure if this is because English is not their natural language (which those that know me, know I understand most foreign accents better than most) or if they just don’t grasp the job that has been handed to them. But the management folks and the third tier technicians (most of which have been with Vonage since the beginning) are spot on awesome!