Friday, October 12, 2007

So Long Vonage

Dear Vonage,

I write this farewell with a heavy heart. There are many reasons why I didn't want to let you go. In the end, I failed you and you failed me. It's time to leave.

My friend was an early adopter of VoIP and his testing led me to sign up for your service. I've been a loyal customer for about five years now. I recognize that you're a pioneer in the field. I appreciate that Vonage isn't part of a monopoly. I liked most aspects of your service. I never cared much that 911 didn't work quite as reliably as with a POTS line, and I realized that the telcos were the real bad guys in that situation.

I really wanted to make it work. I stuck with you when my cable company started offering VoIP. I even went so far as to take pleasure in thwarting their telemarketers when they called to offer their service to me, "No, I have Vonage and I pay $15 plus tax." That always shut them up.

That was then. Now it doesn't shut them up. Their first tactic was to offer a year of service at the same rate. I don't like introductory offers as much as permanent ones, especially when after the introductory offer the deal isn't as sweet as what I have. Now they've changed the deal so that it's permanent. On top of that, they discount my television and internet service as well, making the phone bill virtually disappear into the cable bill. The pragmatic side of me, the one that would rather have that extra $15 for his son, said that it was time to bite.

You failed me first, though.

Despite the easily implemented advanced functionality of VoIP service, you never implemented the one feature that I wanted so dearly, the only feature I miss from the Verizon days. All I asked was for an anonymous call rejection function. It's not that hard, and most phone service providers offer it.

ACR was the real deal breaker. Without it we still receive too many telemarketing calls. Even New Jersey's strict telemarketing regulations don't eliminate all of these incredibly annoying calls. This includes the one company that sneaks under the telemarketing radar by being a charity*. Another large segment of these calls were pre-recorded campaign statements during the last major election. They're an annoying way to push information or make a sale. The worst offenders use a call box to call several numbers at once and put the others on hold. These organizations don't want you to know who they are because you might not answer the phone, you might complain about them, basically you might do something to stop them from annoying you other than give them what they want - normally your money.

When I found out that my cable company offers ACR and their service will save me money it was too much. I couldn't stay with you. I'm sorry. I wish you well. Maybe some day I'll be back.


*They've called with a few charities. The names are always very close to legitimate charities, but slightly different. One can assume that some money makes it to the claimed beneficiaries, but this company always shies away from any attempt to find out more about them. If you interrupt their script with a challenging question or request for more information that doesn't involve a commitment to donate they hang up on you. The last few times they've called I've taken to saying, "Take me off your list," as fast as I possibly can. A few times I've made it through the sentence before they hung up on me. My guess, based on their shady telemarketing practices, is that almost none of this money goes to charity, instead it probably gets sucked up by "overhead" in the form of huge salaries for the executives. I bet some of the new employees even think they're doing legitimate charity work, maybe they are... but that's not the way to do it.

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