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Aaron N. Tubbs

Dragon chaser.

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I’ve bitched about Vonage before so none of this will come as a surprise. Back when they sent me a replacement device for my failed (surprise, it was made by Linksys!) VoiP adapter, they did the typical company thing where they send you a replacement, and you send the original back within fifteen days, or they charge you for the cost of the replacement.

I shipped my replacement out two days after the replacement arrived (sent on December 2nd) and it arrived on December 6th, all of this being well within the 15-day grace period.

Cool. So, December 22nd comes about, and I get this in my inbox:

Account Number: XXXXXXXXX
Amount of Transaction:  $99.94
Dear Aaron Tubbs,
On 12/22/2005 we processed the following transaction.
For more information about this transaction, please contact Vonage DigitalVoice Customer Care.
Email  billing@vonage.com
Toll Free Phone 1-VONAGE-HELP (1-866-243-4357)
Fax 732-333-1353
24 Hours a day, 7 days a week

Really? That’s pretty crazy. I wrote and said “hey guys, what’s this about?” They wrote nothing back. I then went to Paris, had Christmas, New Year’s, and all that jazz, and took a vacation from dealing with customer service.

January 6th comes about, and I get a ‘Vonage Return Receipt’ email telling me the device I returned has been received and removed from my account. Now, when I have confirmating that I delivered the device to them a month to the day earlier than this, I wrote back and said "this makes no sense, I returned this a month ago, why are you just registering this?

No reply.

So, we get to late January and I’ve still received no indication of why I haven’t been credited my $100. I write customer service and billing, and say “hey guys, what’s going on, I’m getting pretty fucking tired of this.”

They write back (two days later, their best response time yet) telling me that I returned the device later, and therefore was not qualified for the credit to my account.

I of course responded (both to billing and customerservice), detailing my invoice from sending the device, the tracking information from UPS, and confirmation that somebody named ‘LVAREZ’ signed for the package at their location on December 6th, and unless he took it home with him for a month, it’s been there ever since.

No response. I wait three days. I call them. I navigate through (I started counting!) 12 menus before being able to actually talk to somebody. Next time I use the IVR Cheat Sheet. Maybe it won’t connect me to India that way, too. I reach somebody on a grainy VoiP connection and a 2-3 second speech latency (huh, who’d have thought, vonage even uses its crap internally) in India, which always puts me in a swell mood. I don’t really know what he’s asking me, but I eventually figure out he wants my phone number and name.

I then indicate that I’m following up on a ticket, and he immediately puts me on hold. I put it on speakerphone, and wait about 15 minutes.

We then reacquire the conversation, and he indicates that the issue is being resolved. I try to chat with him a while to achieve some confidence that yes, it actually is being resolved, and fail to do so, and accept that I will be calling back in a few days to raise hell again, because this is going nowhere.

Because I’m a glutton for punishment, and I’ve already spent the time waiting, I try to find out why it takes weeks for me to get any sort of activity at all out of Vonage, or why it’s taken months for me to get this spurious charge off my account. After rephrasing the question several times, it is indicated that the problem is “Well, we’re in India, sir, and we have to communicate with America, and that takes several days each time.”

What a fabulous reason for horrific customer service.

Yes, friends, $17 a month for VoiP phone service is too good to be true, don’t even consider it. I have had nothing but consistent trouble from Vonage, in terms of number porting, customer service, system performance, and hardware quality. You are far better off using a standard telephone company, cable company, or giving up on a “land line” entirely.