Pros Great price. Phone connection and sound quality consistently good
Cons Can't transfer phone number after 4 months! Requests for escalation go into a black hole.
Summary The phone srvice quaity is excellent. price is great. Very few dropped connections, even with 6 hour phone meetings. Easy setup.
The bad news is they seem to be unable to transfer my phone numbers. It has taken over four months and still no transfer. They use a third party vendor (I believe it is XO Communications) to handle the transfers. I have called at least a dozen times and asked to get this escalated. all I get is a form e-mail in response. They do credit my account, but I am pretty frustrated with this. I have finally filed a complaint with the FCC. My current phone service provider called me to discuss the complaint, so I am pretty sure it is Vonage that is incompetent. I have also heard of other Vonage customers having similar issues. Basically it appears Vonage has taken on more customer than they or their third party provider can handle. So if you sing up for the service be prepared for a bumy ride.
Pros Absolutely no positives with this company!
Cons Do they actually have any engineers working at Vonage? The customer support system is difficult to manuver through. Hold times are consistently in excess of 30 minutes.
Summary DO NOT SUBSCRIBE TO VONAGE!
In addition to the cons listed, Vonage's Customer Care Reps NEVER record problems! They require a ticket number to check status, yet after dozens of phone calls no one has ever issued a ticket number nor have any of the customer service reps entered a problem! They have billed me for two months of service that was never rendered.
Pros Cheap, easy setup
Cons Just cancelled my service...
Summary Hopefully by sharing my opinion of this product, it will save you some time and hassle. I don't normally write in reviews of products... good or bad, but this was so bad I felt compelled to do so. Here are my issues;
1) - Customer Care lines are almost always overwhelmed with calls. If you find a way through the automated maze that initially greets you to get to a real person to talk to, be prepared to wait. 20+ minutes is not an exaggeration on my part to say is the average wait time. If you have a question about why your phone number hasn't been transferred for two months, be prepared to wait another 20+ minutes to talk to someone in that department.
2) - Transferring your phone number in a timely manner seems to be next to impossible. After two months of playing the "we'll escalate the problem" game, I was fed up. I called to cancel my service and went through the obligatory 20+ minutes to talk to the initial customer care rep (as a side note, does Vonage use their own VOIP service in their customer care department because there was some substantial echoes during the early part of the conversation). From that point I was apparently transferred erroneously to a department that couldn't cancel my account (20+ additional minutes wasted). Then I was transferred to another area that, after a 10 minute wait time, I went through the whole "we'll credit your account / we'll escalate the problem" spiel . I impressed upon them that I wasn't budging and that I was fed up.
To their credit, they refunded my account with the two payments that I had made and didn't charge me a termination fee ( I had previously purchased the Vonage adapter from Best Buy). All in all, I purchased the adapter for $50 and received a rebate check for it and paid for two months of Vonage service which I was credited for and a lot of headaches. It was a relief when I received confirmation that my account had been cancelled in my email.
As far as sound quality and reliability goes, I can't really tell you... I never really had an opportunity to use it as my main phone because the number was never transferred over.
Pros cheap and feature-rich
Cons not reliable
Summary I've had Vonage service for about two years now (since late 2003). Service was good enough to ditch my traditional line when I joined up. However, once the company rolled out its massive national advertising campaign, serivce went to hell--dropped calls; people can't hear me; I sound to them like I'm talking in a blender; calls don't go through; I can hear people but they can't hear me.... In other words it's been a nightmare. Reminds me of the old days when the Internet was taking off and every six months or so my dial-up connection would turn to crap like this as more people signed on to my ISP and the ISP responded by upgrading capacity. I'm hanging on to Vonage in the hope that they'll build out enough capacity to support all the new customers they obviously can't handle right now. I'm the meantime I've upgraded to a beefier cell phone plan and I recommend you stay away from Vonage until they get their #$%% together.Updated
After writing my original scathing review, I discovered that my 2.4 gigahertz cordless phones were being jammed by my wireless router, which, like all WiFi routers, runs on the same frequency. I switched to a corded phone (a temporary measure--I'll use a 900 megahertz or 5.8 gigahertz phone), and now my Vonage service is crystal clear. My apologies to Vonage for unfairly trashing the service. However, Vonage tech support should inform users of this problem, which is probably quite common.
Pros Price, features
Cons No outbound caller ID
Summary I've been reading these horrible reviews for Vonage with interest. I'm using Vonage and couldn't be happier. For anyone thinking of using it, the service can save you a ton of money. With some care, the pitfalls described in these reviews can be avoided for the most part.
First, though, I want to make it clear I have nothing to do with Vonage. I am a high school counselor who wants to save money. My Bell South account with Complete Choice and unlimited long distance cost me $67 + change a month. Vonage with close to the same features (a couple of new ones, missing a couple of others) and unlimited long distance in US and also several countries in Europe is $27 + change a month. The $40 savings a month is being put to much better use. I was waiting for Vonage to have a working E911 that went directly to my local 911 center. That happens now.
Below, please find the common complaints in these reviews and my experience.
Issue 1 - Poor customer service: This is the most consistent complaint. My first thought when I read the reviews was that my Bell South Customer service hasn't been all that great. I've often had long waits. When I moved to Talk America a few years ago, I could not cancel my Bell South service online, a common complaint about Vonage. I had to call and wait and wait and wait. I went back to Bell South because Talk America customer service was worse. So, even if customer service at Vonage is bad, for an annual savings of $480 a year, who cares? But, the fact is I've dealt with Vonage customer service three times and it's been great. A couple of years ago, I began getting wonderful customer service from all companies. I bought a recording device from Radio Shack for $25 that hooks into the phone line and a cassette player. It sits on my home office desk. When I call customer service, after the pleasantries, I say, "John, it's no reflection on you, but I'm recording this conversation. I want to have a record of this and, I tell you, my memory is so bad I need to be able to review what's you've told me." My tone of voice reflects a friendly, helpful attitude. Since I started doing this, I've discovered the most helpful customer service people for every company I've dealt with. It's been miraculous. I've only had to use the recording a couple of times, and at that I just read a transcript on the phone and asked if they wanted me to send the actual recording. In each case, I was taken care of.
That being said, I have not had to wait for long for a Vonage agent to answer. I do try to call at the least busy times, like 5:00 a.m. Eastern. My first call was a few minutes after activating the phone. I realized immediately that I misunderstood the plan I chose, and needed to switch to the unlimited plan. The first response was that I would have to pay a $10 fee to switch. I simply pointed out that I had activated the phone ten minutes before and shouldn't have to pay anything. He agreed to credit my account. I then said I wanted the first month free. That came with the unlimited plan, not the one I originally chose. He didn't want to do that, so I made my recording statement. He said, "I need to transfer you to the credit department." I held for about thirty seconds and somebody from stateside answered and agreed that I should get the first month free. I watched as he credited my account, after refreshing my browser. The second time I called was when my fax machine would not work on the line. I called, got an immediate answer again, made my recording statement, and within a minute the fellow had tweaked the line and my fax machine has worked fine since. The last time I called was with a question about porting my number and the answer was quick and satisfactory.
Issue 2 - Porting the Number: My number was fully ported 13 days after my LOA was submitted. After reading the horror stories about porting, I noticed that the carrier was often suspicious in the delays. I called Bell South and asked for all features to be removed from my account, including long distance. I only kept call forwarding and sent calls to my temporary Vonage number. That made my monthly charge from Bell South to be $25. Adding Vonage's monthly charge (waived, but replaced by an installation charge) of about $27. So, my total monthly outlay was still $15 less than Bell South even with both lines active until the number would be ported and I could cancel Bell South. Fine with me. I later called Bell South and they said the porting was pending. I asked what that meant. The Bell South rep was vague, so I said my recording thing (sometimes I forget in the beginning of the call), and she immediately said, "I need to send you to the porting department." I received a full explanation from that person and was assured that no features would hold up the porting. As I said, my phone line was ported a week earlier than the minimum of twenty days Vonage estimated at the time I signed up for the service. I'd suggest you do you're homework and take the appropriate steps.
Issue 3 -Equipment and Rebates: It seems nutty to me to order equipment from Vonage. If something goes wrong, I'd have no one to go visit. I bought the Linksys router with Vonage adapter installed from Circuit City with a rebate making the router free. First, my router was about three years old, so I thought it'd be good to get a new one. Second, there is no customer service on the planet better than Linksys. Third, if the rebate was a problem, I could go to Circuit City. In the past, they've honored messed up rebates from third parties by issuing me store credits, which is fine by me. The router has worked fine, except I had a problem with getting my computers to network. Linksys customer service worked with me, and it turned out to be my fault. The new router had a different range of local IP addresses than the old one and I needed to reconfigure Zone Alarm. The router and the phone service have worked wonderfully. I did have a problem submitting the rebate. One listed item to include, in addition to the UPC and serial number bar, was a proof of purchase symbol from the box. There isn't one. I verified that with Circuit City store manager, and then called the Linksys, Circuit City and Vonage rebate centers. The Vonage rep said not to worry about it and to send the rebate on. After learning I was recording the interchange, the Vonage rep volunteered to establish a case for me in case I had a problem. I have the case number and a recording of the interchange.
Issue 4 - Fees: There have been consistent complaints in these reviews that Vonage is "cheating" the customer because of fees. I don't get it. Before signing up, I ...duh... read the terms of service. The money back guarantee period of thirty days and the cancellation fee for a year is item number two in the TOS. The activation fee is mentioned as well. Didn't you read the TOS before signing up? For future reference, it's really dumb not to do that. Additionally, on the signup page, there is a link that says, "Calculate Vonage charges." I entered my zip code and clicked on that. The fees were all listed and I was billed exactly as they were listed. Don't blame Vonage because you failed to do your due diligence before signing up.
Issue 5- Outages: First, I've had outages with Bell South. When that happens, I call the repair office. Every time, without fail, they run a test and tell me the problem is my "inside wiring," Every single time I've explained that's impossible because my inside wiring is connected through a single outlet from the outside and I'd disconnected it, plugged a phone directly to the outside wiring, and still had the problem. The Bell South repair rep and I have fought over that until they've finally sent someone out. In every instance, they found the problem to be outside, which it had to be. My point is that outages aren't unique to VOIP. However, the odds of outages in some circumstances with VOIP will be higher. A few years ago, I would never have attempted VOIP because my Charter service was unreliable. However, Charter has upgraded its service significantly and outages are rare. But, there is another problem. I have helped many, many people resolve Internet problems. The wiring messes I've seen in homes have been phenomenal. With standard phone service, almost all houses are already wired. With Internet service, most people have had to do it themselves. That is going to cause problems. Suggestion: before signing up for VOIP, make sure your Internet wiring inside your house has solid integrity, few splitters, etc. In our case, the cable line is split outside the house by the cable company. Inside, within a foot of the wall, one cable goes to the TV distribution system, the other to the cable modem, then the Linksys Vonage router, then to the Internet distribution system.
Issue 6 - Quality of Service: My quality has been excellent. On rare occasions I hear a very slight echo. No one on the other end has had a problem that they've mentioned. Outbound caller ID only includes a number. For $40 a month savings, that's fine with me. I'm sure that'll be rectified at some point. I will reiterate that my Internet wiring is pristine and my cable service has been extremely stable.
In short: With a little homework done, and care taken, my Vonage experience has been just dandy and I'm enjoying my extra money. Hope this helps.