Monday, March 03, 2008
Enough is enough.
After having had my fill of their mediocre-to-non-functional telephone service, I closed my Vonage account this morning. And I'll tell you that it was no easy task. First of all, I could find no contact information on their official web site. So I filed a complaint with the New Jersey Better Business Bureau. After about 3 weeks, Vonage e-mailed me a copy of the message they sent to the BBB in response to my complaint, in which their representative said “As stated in the Terms of Service, for the purpose of security, customers are required to contact us if they wish to discontinue the Service. “. Yeah, right.
I called the number mentioned in their letter (1-866-243-4357), and was connected to a Mr. Lopez in a back-office in the Philippines. (Why any American firm has to farm out so-called customer service to some poor schlubs halfway around the world, who are probably getting paid far less than what typical American phone slaves used to earn, is beyond me, but hey, that's progress, right?) Even though I made it clear that I wanted to terminate my Vonage account immediately if not sooner, Mr. Lopez kept on trying – again , again and again - to sell me more Vonage gimmicks and service plans, even offering to charge me only half my monthly fee for I guess 6 months or so if I stayed with them. For several minutes Mr. Lopez and I had a pointless back-and-forth exchange in which I would reiterate my request to terminate my account and Mr. Lopez would immediately ignore my request with an "OK, but..." and then toss out another Vonage come-on. When I told him I didn't want to hear any more scripted sales pitches, he replied that he was making them not from scripts but “from the heart”. Oh, please!
After about 5 more minutes of that, I told him in no uncertain terms that I was no longer interested Vonage in any way, shape manner or form, and asked him one last time to terminate my account. Then I hung up.
A few minutes later my Vonage line stopped functioning, which indicated to me that Mr. Lopez had finally honored my initial request. The fact that I was now disconnected was confirmed when I made a follow-up call to Vonage at the same toll-free number. This time, I got a “Rafael” who said he was located in Vonage's corporate headquarters in Holmdel, NJ. I asked Rafael what I should do with the interface box Vonage supplied me with now that I was no longer a customer. He told me that it was not necessary for me to ship it back, and that I would not be charged for it.
I have never had an experience like this with Verizon, Time-Warner or AT&T. Never before have I been treated in such a hucksterish, unprofessional manner. It'll be interesting to see if I continue to get charged by Vonage for the service that I am now not receiving. Oh yes, I'm told that the New Jersey Attorney General's office has one person in it whose job it is to handle complaints about Vonage.
So much for voice over IP (VOIP). It's back to standard phone service I go.