Vonage Bleeds, Consumerist Feeds

The buzz this morning is that Vonage could be a sweet “acquisition target” i.e. dismembered whale lumbering through shark waters i.e. their recent stock drop could have takeover kids licking their mandibles. Maybe their new daddy is someone willing to give their call centers a hot beef injection? (We mean that in the best way possible…)

After all, the Gawker overlord isn’t the only one who’s had trouble with the VoIP operator. Mike writes in that to save money, he wanted to sign up and transfer his cellphone number from Verizon. Five months later, after paying Vonage $14.95 a month, the switch still hadn’t been made and the company continued to contend they were waiting for people on Verizon’s end.

At that point, he received his monthly “We’re Vonage and We’re So Awesome” newsletter. He snapped.

He replied to the newsletter, CC’ing every Vonage worker from the CEO down whose email he could find.

The next morning, his efforts bore sweet, sweet fruit…

Mike writes:

    “Hola Consumeristas-

    February 2005, in an effort to cut back my monthly bills (I had a $40 a month minimum cell phone plan with Verizon, no land line in the house, and spend maybe thirty minutes a month on the phone), I signed up for Vonage’s $14.95/mo plan, and to get my cell number transferred to the new Vonage phone. Submitted all the appropriate paperwork, received notification that it had been received by Vonage, and according the info on Vonage’s site, thought it might be, at most, a month to six weeks and all would be hunky-dory. Wrong, wrong, wrong! Two – three – four months went by, with me, NOT cutting my bills as desired, but paying MORE, since I needed a phone and thus had to keep the cell plan, AND pay Vonage their $14.95 for something I wasn’t using. I contacted Vonage a couple of times, starting at about the two month point, only to be told that they were waiting for Verizon to do what they needed to do on their end, there wasn’t anything they could do, and I just had to wait. Finally, in July (five months down the road from when I initially started this process), I got one of Vonage’s monthly rah-rah newsletters and that was the final straw. I got inspired by my, at this point, building rage over this situation, and proceeded to email the address on the newsletter for “sharing your experiences with Vonage”. sharing MY wonderful experiences. I also CC’d all the folks, from the CEO on down, whose addresses I could find on Vonage’s website. Needless to say, I didn’t see my submission published in their next newsletter, but I did, the next morning prior to nine AM, receive a phone call from someone (whose name I can’t now remember, but whose efforts I appreciate), on Vonage’s Executive Response Team. My number was transferred within a week after this call, and Vonage gave me five months credit on my bill. I thought this experience might be of benefit to those who have struggled mightily to communicate with Bangalore tech support, after making their way through the gauntlet of calling an 800 number and pressing any and all numbers to talk to someone.

    BTW- thanks for the site- a great success in your first couple of months, and very entertaining-

    Regards-

    Mike D.”

Comments

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  1. DeeJayQueue says:

    Can we have those email addresses?
    Huzzah for bending Vonage over and giving them what-fer.

  2. Tom Hespos says:

    Here’s what I don’t understand. Why would Vonage be “a sweet acquisition target?”

    IANAMAG (I Am Not A Mergers and Acquisitions Guy), but generally when one looks for a takeover target, they look for somebody with a sustainable business model, right? Consumer VOIP is an easy add-on to just about any cable TV package, or folks can just use Skype like your Gawker overlord. What do we need Vonage for?

  3. Hawkins says:

    Well, I’m not a stock douche either, but I’ve seen companies that had no possible way of making money get bought up, for real money, just because they had a lot of customers.

    By some estimates (Google “vonage customer acquisition costs”), Vonage has spent three or four hundred dollars to acquire each customer (I guess it cost a lot to license that woo-hoo song).

    Assume that they’re fuckwits, and each customer should only cost $250… Vonage had 1.6 million customers on April 1. That’s $0.4 billion right there.

  4. Johnny says:

    Not sure what it is, but to me this is one of the more satisfying customer sob stories I’ve read on this site in a while (and there has been good competition lately). Maybe it’s the way he so effectively channeled his rage. That’s some mighty fine consumerin’, Mike D.

  5. OkiMike says:

    Mike D., hey wait! That’s me! Er…

  6. I’ve had nothing but excellent service from Vonage for nearly two years. Then again, I (a) bought my equipment at Staples and didn’t have to wait for shipment; (b) didn’t port my number from another local carrier; (c) have never called customer service for any reason. Maybe I’m not in the best position to judge Vonage’s customer service.

    I did, however, once have an enormous problem with AT&T. Complicated to explain, but I ended up calling customer service and getting nowhere. After my telephone had been completely disconnected for two days because an incompetent twit at AT&T screwed up, I finally called the California Public Utilities Commission to make a complaint. They transferred me immediately to AT&T’s Executive Appeals (like Mike D. got with Vonage), and I had a single Account Executive (and her direct number) working with me until the issue was resolved. Unfortunately, it was such a clusterf*ck that at one point I even called back to escalate the issue even higher (her “direct” line seemed to be nothing more than a voicemail she checked every other day), and they tell me, “You’ve reached the highest level, sir.” I was livid. “Am I on a conference call with the board of directors? No? THEN I’M NOT AT THE HIGHEST LEVEL.”