13 May 2010

It is sometimes amazing to me how new upstarts morph into their own arch enemies. Case in point is Vonage. For years I used to have Vonage service at home as a backup phone service. I was on a 500 minute plan for $14.99+taxes. This was a great plan for me as I didn’t use the phone much. However at some point they decided that was too little money and they hiked up the price to $16.99 (something like that). It may seem like a small difference but I figured I may be better of elsewhere. I ended up switching to Galaxy Voice which I am using to this day since they had more flexible calling plans.

We recently expanded our office space and we needed a phone line added to a conference room. Since I had my old Vonage adapter at home I figured I would bring it and we’d use it. I thought it would be as easy as going to Vonage’s web site, supplying the phone adapter ID and my credit card number and I would be set. It wasn’t so. After entering the phone ID I got this message

The MAC address you entered is associated with an existing Vonage account. Please call our Customer Care department at 1-866-293-5676 for immediate assistance.

I called the number and spoke to someone in Customer service. This took about 20 minutes while the person kept re-asking for the same data and concluded that they couldn’t help me and that I would have to talk to tech support. Tech support guy was equally unhelpful. Basically I could not activate a device that was ever used before since the system “knew” about it. Talk about having a piece of useless technological trash. At that point I was sufficiently frustrated to end the call. I tweeted about my experience and a day later I was contacted by Vonage’s Twitter team about having someone at customer service contact me. I thought I’d give it a go. I got a call and this experience was not a whole lot better than the previous ones. Person kept asking me for my personal information including name, billing address, what was the credit card number I used for paying bills and the e-mail address I used. Since this was more than a year ago and I have dozens of e-mail addresses I said I couldn’t remember. At that point I ended the call since I was sufficiently frustrated. I was willing to give these people money yet they were making me jump through all this hoops. I don’t get it.

It occurred to me later that this was very similar to experiences that I had with a local phone company when I would move and I would have to get through all these bureaucratic hoops to make sure all my features stayed the same after I moved.