Vonage: Consumerist! Save Us From Verizon!

One of Vonage’s friendly PR guys IM’d us the other day to let us know that Vonage was starting a website with the intention of saving themselves from the tyranny of evil known as Verizon. (Dare we speak its name!) We’ve been following this story for what seems like 12 years at this point, so we figured we’d go ahead and link their site.

Do you want to save Vonage? They’re asking people to email Verizon and sign a petition and what not. Don’t know what sort of legal clout a bunch of nasty emails from Consumerist readers has, buy hey. Who are we to judge? If you like Vonage then do whatever you feel you need to do. It also occurs to us that if Vonage loses it might set some unfriendly legal precedents for other companies.

Next time someone writes about a particularly crappy experience with Vonage, however, my how the favors will be called in.

Get some backstory on Vonage’s track-record as well as the lawsuit (in which Verizon patents the internet and hires the best lawyers ever borne by a woman) by clicking here. —MEGHANN MARCO

Free To Compete [Vonage]

PREVIOUSLY:Vonage CEO Quits, Company Will Cut Jobs, Marketing
Never Mind, Vonage Can Still Sign Up New Customers
No New Customers: Judge Bars Vonage From Serving New Accounts
Lawsuits: Vonage Owes Verizon $58 Million
Verizon Sues to Shut Down Vonage

Comments

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  1. Skiffer says:

    I have absolutely no use for VoIP, but I can’t help but be sympathetic to Vonage’s plight – the banner image above says it all.

    I read the charges in the lawsuit, and from what I could discern from the legalese – the Verizon patent is so simple / broadly-defined, it’s absurd.

  2. Echodork says:

    Ah good, an Al Gore joke right in the title. It’s a shame I support Al Gore, and now won’t bother signing their petition.

    Seriously, if your goal is to curry favor with the general public, why are you making political jokes on your blog?

  3. Trai_Dep says:

    Laughed out loud at the, oh MY how will the favors be called in. Good job!

    Horribly bad precedent: well-funded groups stockpile dubious patents to extort ruinous $$ from commendable entrepreneurs or to simply strangle worthy innovation in their crib. Very anti-capitalist.

  4. justin.ryan says:

    I would never do anything to save this company. Our service has been completely horrible and their customer service is completely rude and half the time even admit that they don’t have any idea how to fix things or work their routers. They promise credits on the account and/or free months to keep you from canceling, and than never give them.

  5. Spider Jerusalem says:

    I would think that a bunch of people emailing Verizon so they can have a choice of service would only strengthen Verizon’s resolve to not let Vonage go forward. “Please, please let the upstart use your technology so it can be in direct competition with you? Pleeeease?”

  6. Trai_Dep says:

    “your technology” is the key point here. It’s a fair argument to say that Verizon is relying on one of those “patent sky-is-blue then sue every landscape painter in the country” patents.

  7. mattbrown says:

    Two subtle advertisements in two days! Rad!

  8. Kyoko says:

    ah, finally the web 2.0… using real people on the net to sign petition and work for them for free. I believe many will just sign it and know nothing about it.

    My parents and I are currently a subscriber, and we actually care less about them going bankrupt or not. Their horrible service is already known and yet, they still haven’t changed anything to fix it or at least improve it. The only reason why we stick with them is because our numbers are being used by many of our friends and families.


    So far, from my point of view, vonage’s website is biased only to their own voices. I want to hear first what verizon got to say about it.

  9. nighthwk1 says:

    I’m a Vonage customer and the service is mediocre, but even if I had a bad experience and hated the company, we still need to support them in the fight against Verizon.

    Why?

    Because, if Verizon is allowed to claim patent infringement on Vonage, then they will not stop there. Other VOIP, cable companies and Skype will likely be next, and maybe it will be illegal/impossible to run your own Asterisk server.

    We shouldn’t see this as two companies facing off, but rather one company abusing the patent system to screw us all.

  10. strandist says:

    You know, Cisco was one of the pioneers of VoIP technology and chances are that, if you have a VoIP system where you work, it’s a Cisco system. Anyone know anything about how they fit into it? Are they licensing the technology or using something different enough that Verizon doesn’t have a patent to it? If it’s just that they’re using it and haven’t been sued yet, that opens it up for everyone else to do it. Patent law isn’t like copyright law, you can’t just go after the ones you want to, you have to prosecute everyone who violates your patent.

    If the technology is different enough, why can’t Vonage use that?

    I’m going to agree with what nighthwk1 said in that, in all honesty, I have no real desire to support Vonage for the sake of Vonage, but rather just to defend the way the patent system should be.

  11. ShadowFalls says:

    I do agree, Vonage is really a poor excuse for a company for what it offers and its pitiful customer service. But, I do not think Verizon should get away with such behavior, simply put, they would own the market that way.

    The patent system simply needs reform. It is good to have original ideas, but if you don’t follow through with them after a period of time, I think they should be expired for you.

  12. Mike_ says:

    Hey Vonage PR asshats, what’s the deal with your completely unnecessary and obviously uninformed jab at Al Gore? Go read this, and then ask yourselves whether you’re trying to rally the entire public’s support, or just those who still think it’s clever and funny to misquote the Vice President.

    Personally, I hate Verizon. I also think the patent system is in desperate need of reform. I should be on your side. However …

    (1) I’ve heard nothing but bad things about your customer service;
    (2) Your goddamn woo-hoo woo-hoo-hoo commercials are annoying;
    (3) That Al Gore thing pisses me off.

    So I, for one, will stand here on the beach sipping my piña colada and watching your ship sink. Good riddance to bad rubbish. Woo-hoo, woo-hoo-hoo.

  13. CaptainRoin says:

    @Mike_: I mean come on. The Al Gore thing is funny, hell he probably went to that site and had a little chuckle. I think some things he’s said are damn funny, and the president has had some that were even better.

    Lets not make this about Al Gore. OK thanks.

  14. Yogambo says:

    I’ve got a complex mix of feelings about these Vonage folks. First off, I love the service. The quality is great and I’ve not had any issues with outages or any such thing. But the getting of it was a nightmare. I’ve been with them for nearly 18 months. I signed up for this big $100 rebate where you had to mail in your old wireless router for them to give you $100 toward the new wireless router you had to buy with their service. So I box it up and mail it, costing me another $20 for mail. But I figure, hey, I’m sending a router, they’ll never screw me. Well, I got bent over in no time. First, they sent a mail saying they got my stuff and all was good. Then when I began getting sweaty for my check I get a postcard saying it wasn’t sent within their window and so it was declined. Oh, and they keep the router.

    I am a long-time rebate maven so I pull out all of my receipts and stuff and prepare for battle. I call them and they tell me there is a 30 day window. I look at my rebate form and it says 90 days. I tell the rep and she sounds confused, says it can’t be so. I say it is, I’ll fax it to you now. I do…and nothing. So I call again, I fax again, call again. Eventually they no longer will talk to me, it’s all over they say. I never give up and so call and threaten on a monthly basis. I’ve done lots of rebates, probably topping over 1000, truly. I’ve never had them tell me and reveal that their were running two different timelines in their small print. I always read the small print and follow it to a ‘t’. I was on this and then, someone moved my cheese. I called them on it and surprise number two, they stop talking to me, tell me they didn’t get it, that it must have gone to another department until they’ve crossed whatever threshold and they tell me to go away.

    I’ve been bitter ever since. I’ve been tempted to go up the chain to some corporate big-wig. When they had the stock sale, I thought that was my time, but I just didn’t have the time to put in to get addresses and such. Now they are on the ropes and I think, I’m glad these guys put Verizon on the ropes. Verizon=evil But they took my router, they lied about a rebate and they screwed me out of at least $100! And they don’t seem to care. This does not bode well for the future.

    These guys opened the door for many that are now piling through it. But if the way I was treated and lied to is any indication, trouble was bound to come calling. Reminds me of the corporate culture shown at Enron in the film “Smartest guys in the room.” Did they know the rebate thing was part scam but not care so long as they got their subscriber numbers up? I’m suspicious.

    So I sit, bitterly talking on a phone line that sounds great at a wonderful price the whole time thinking you liars stole my router and you kept my $100! I think that router keeping business is what stings the most. They’ve got my shit! And I’d just bought that sucker too! Bastards — that’s the bad part. But the service and their initiative are great — that’s the good part. Nearly 18 months later, I’m still here and I’m thinking I must be insane.

    I will not give up, however. I hold out hope that they will help me, that they will give me my rebate check so I can smile ear-to-ear and say “these guys kick ass!” I’ve still got my paperwork! Right now every time someone asks me about it — and I get asked about it a lot (local tech guru am I) — I have to say “it’s great … BUT” it seems like these guys have some liars in their organization. We know Verizon was built on them. I’d hoped Vonage would be different.

  15. jaewon223 says:

    Although it would seem that most people’s experiences with Vonage seems to be less than stellar, it is important to remember that what happens here sets precedence later on for other voip companies that might be awesome in comparison. Even if you don’t support Vonage but you do support voip it might interest you to back Vonage on this one.

    It appears every week there is a new lawsuit on a patent. This is getting a bit ridiculous.

    Lastly, that Vonage commercial song gets stuck in my head every time and it annoys me to no ends.

  16. gundark says:

    I have never had a harder time canceling any service in my life as I had canceling Vonage. They absolutely refuse to offer decent service over email which is odd as it is a much cheaper way to do support.

  17. mac-phisto says:

    hasn’t anyone heard of doing a patent search when they create something? seems to me that this could have easily been avoided with due diligence.

    i don’t see what the big deal is. it will all be at&t again soon enough.

  18. Mike_ says:

    @CaptainRoin: Hey, I wasn’t the one who crafted a headline built around a stale political attack on the credibility of a former presidential candidate (who happens to be very popular these days). They’re the ones that brought Al Gore into this. It was stupid and obnoxious, and a terrible blunder for so-called “PR people” trying to build support from the public. No, not everyone will notice or care. But I do, and I know I’m not the only one.

    If you Vonage PR geniuses are following this thread, take a hint from one of the people you’re trying to reach/motivate: replace the Al Gore headline with something politically neutral (i.e. NOT straight out of the GOP talking points).

  19. MeOhMy says:

    LOL@Little Al Gore Buddies. You know, even AL GORE laughs at the joke.

    I’ve heard lots of bad about Vonage, as well. It’s funny how Verizon bitches out one side of their mouth how cable operators are using underhanded tactics to try to keep Verizon out of the cable market and then out the other side of their mouth bitches as loud as possible to try to get Vonage out of the VOIP market.

    It needs to stop. If you can’t compete, you deserve to lose. Provide a better service than Vonage (sounds like it shouldn’t be too hard) and win in the market, not in the courts. USPTO is a clueless organization once you get to technology that’s more complex than steam-era stock.

    Vonage has my support here. Silly political jokes don’t dictate right and wrong.

  20. Trai_Dep says:

    Yup, agree that Vonage isn’t the point. It’s the broken patent system. What ELSE will Verizon strangle in its crib?

  21. orielbean says:

    I wasn’t impressed with how Vonage dealt with their stocks and IPO. I am very glad I never got in on their initial stock deal to vonage customers! Verizon is evil and stupid, but vonage didn’t offer too much in terms of a “new” service.

    As to the actual patent causing this distress – we need to fix the patent system, but how can this be done? Is the USPTO headed by an appointee or are they elected? There’s your answer…

    How are patents legislated and how would you fix them? Let’s start talking about those solutions rather than just ranting on about how the system is broken. DUH – we know it’s broken. What is the solution?

  22. Fancy Pants says:

    When I tried to cancel my Vonage account, the rep really, really wanted me to keep it. She said I should get the $5.99 a month plan “for emergencies, like when the power goes out.” I had to carefully explain to her that the phone worked [i]over the internet[/i], which requires [i]electricity[/i]. Twice.

  23. shdwsclan says:

    Wait….5.99 extra for emergency services…..hahahahah

    Thats a laugh….shouldn’t they be….like…included….
    If they really want to compete with regular phone, they need to put a lot of redundant systems into their converter boxes to actually, like satellite uplink backup, battery backup, cellular backup, and private radio backup, which with these added costs actually makes regular phone cheaper…

  24. ironchef says:

    al gore never claimed to invent the internet.

    http://www.snopes.com/quotes/internet.asp

  25. rugger_can says:

    @ironchef:

    “During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the Internet.”

    Creating
    http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/Creating

    Al Gore is a great guy. But he’s not perfect. It’s fair rights to compare what Verizon is doing with his statement in that interview.

    I suppose Vonage, they are a competitor, they offer an option which is great. It allows consumers to have choice and will help to foster better prices and service. Because when companies have no fear of loss they never change.

  26. dextrone says:

    OH NO; Does this mean the end of cheap VOIP