Bad call

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Inluminent points to Vonage, a company that provides phone service over your existing broadband Internet connection. That’s an interesting idea, but I have to wonder about the quality of the service. One of the advantages of plain old telephone service (POTS) is the reliability. Very rarely do you pick up the phone and not get dialtone. Even in storms that cause power outages affecting thousands of people, the phones still work. John notes that his cable Internet service has only been down for 20 minutes in three months, but that may not be true. Most people don’t use the Internet at the same intervals as their phone. If your Internet connection is down while you are away from the computer, you probably wouldn’t notice since the majority of your Internet communications are asynchronous. Someone can send you email while your computer is turned off or your connection is down and you’ll still get it eventually. If someone calls you on the phone and your connection is down, suddenly you’ll take notice.

There’s another reason why POTS reliability is important — emergencies. If you have a life-threatening emergency and need to call for help, are you willing to bet that yoru broadband connection will be up?

I also have to wonder about a company that doesn’t want you to use their Web site if you don’t use the right browser. The site uses JavaScript that looks for browsers other than Netscape 4.79 or newer and Internet Explorer 4.0 or newer and redirects users to a page that instructs them to download the latest Netscape or IE versions. When I turned off Javascript I was able to access the site without any problem, so there’s apparently no reason to deny other browsers the use of the site.

Would Vonage keep from using any phone I wanted in order to get calls? Or would I need to use new phones that they’ve approved?

Trackback from Nonliteral
May 15, 2003 5:38 PM

Still a Vonage fan

Excerpt: In Bad call, Adam Kelsey mentions concerns about the reliability of VOIP offerings like Vonage. I've been using Vonage since February. As they don't have 911 service yet, and I've got a teenager who could be home alone without a...

Gerhard
October 31, 2003 7:20 AM

Well, The way I see it is that competition is good. The reason I switched to Vonage deals primarily with the amount that I don't use my home phone. Verizon and other vendors have you basically over a barrel. The features that you get with cell phone services or Vonage are much less costly than a standard POTS phone vendor (such as Verizon). I'd rather have a phone system with unlimited calling for $34.99 for calls to the US and Canada than pay $50.00 a month to Verizon. Vonage's technical support stinks. I'm not remotely impressed with their lack of technical knowledge. However, Verizon's technical support is horrible as well. While Vonage is imcompetent, Verizon has the holyer than thou attitude (aka If you don't like, too bad, what else are you going to do?).

Adam Kalsey
October 31, 2003 9:32 AM

One reason that I'm not in a hurry to find an alternative phone service is that my local phone monopoly doesn't charge outrageous rates. I pay about $22 a month for my local phone service, extra services, and all the taxes and fees. I'd imagine that if I was paying upwards of $50 per month I'd be more interested in alternates.

bill
August 17, 2004 10:08 PM

I have vonage for well over a year. the service and quality have been very good. Sure i still have a cell for other stuff but vonage for home at 15 us per month for 500 minutes cannot be beat plus thailand for 14 cents ...try that ..do yur research. VOIP IS EXCELLENT VALUE....................

Adam Kalsey
August 17, 2004 10:38 PM

Bill, did you even read the article? I wasn't arguing that Vonage wasn't a good value. I said nothing of the cost. My point was that people are used to phones just plain working. You simply aren't going to get that with VoIP. Broadband services are not nearly as reliable as the telephone network in the US. Vonage has recently solved many of my concerns. If your phone is unreachable, Vonage will automatically forward the call to an alternate number (like a cell phone); 911 dialing is (sort of) available; and seven digit dialing is finally available. I also have to wonder if you are simply an argumentative person. According to my logs, you found this article by searching Yahoo for "bad call on internet phones." Why would you do a search like that and then just complain?

carolyn
November 17, 2005 12:04 PM

I would really like to for warn everyone thinking about going to Vonage to read this. I had Vonage for several months and it was a battle, it worked good until a power outage and the service was gone I was on the phone for hours, there tech support it the worst I have ever encountered Most of them don’t speak English and are not helpful telling you that your router is bad, I called Linksys they checked it out and told me what to do, where the tech support at Vonage didn’t even know. This happen several times in a few weeks and then I lost service for some unknown reason and called after about three days of being on the phone for two hours (thank God that I had a cell phone) they told me that the problem was some where in a remote area and that they would have to find the problem send someone out there, and that it would be fixed in 24 hours, seven days later still no phone service. Finally I called and canceled service and they said that they could have it fixed that day, so why not seven days ago. I canceled and two months later they are still billing me and charged me a $41 cancellation fee, ever heard of that , for there bad service I am charged a extra fee. I think the attorney general needs to look into there business.

vonage victim
December 10, 2005 9:40 AM

I was a vonage customer for a little over a year. After living through the battle to get my number ported into the network. and suffering the poor sound quality, unexplained out of service announcements callers would hear and generally poor service. I had to involve the PSC to switch back to verizon. Now the kicker is that vonage callers get an announcement that my line is out of service- I called vonage and they told me that its a verizon issue. Gee other people can call me yet vonage people can't its a vonage problem -they are still internally pointing my number to their cheap voip network. And best of all they will do nothing to fix it. POX to you VONAGE may you go down in flames!

Tracy
March 27, 2006 5:59 PM

Vonage is awful. VERY bad static, dropped phone calls, cannot use wireless phones and have Dish TV, cannot accept collect calls, hard to reach a live person, and more. I just sent the following on 4 local news channels hoping they will investigate. "I have never before contact any tv, radio, or other consumer watch group...but Vonage is ridiculous. It cost me a couple hundred dollars to try their FREE TRIAL! While trying to get refunds for an account that was supposed to be canceled 6 weeks ago, they now want to charge me a cancellation fee, and the CSR refused to escalate my call to a manager - we were mysteriously disconnected. It takes a minimum of 30 minutes to reach someone and then they refuse to help. Now I'm trying again...been listening to music for 10 minutes so far...so decided to contact you. Hope you can investigate them!!!!" Good luck!

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