Vonage Insists You're Still A Customer Two Years After You Canceled Service

Listen Vonage, Garry isn’t your customer anymore. You need to stop sending him bills and let him go. Sure, he liked you back in 2004, but he found a better company at a cheaper price and he’s moved on. Billing his AmEx every single month for two years after he canceled? Not cute. Sending his account to collections when his AmEx finally expired? Seems desperate. Please Vonage, get over Garry and move on with your life.

Garry writes:

First, I want to say that I was a happy Vonage customer for 4 years. The only reason I chose to leave them was I got a better deal. Leaving is the rub. Even after you leave, Vonage keeps on billing, and they resurrect dead service without notice. This company is technically a good operation, but the customer service and billing has earned this fiasco of a company the right to a dirt nap.

In late September 2005 I ordered VOIP service form another carrier and canceled Vonage. Several calls to Vonage sent me through a succession of people, many who had poor command of English, and eventually led me to wait on hold for the person authorized to end my account. The wait was too long, and I finally believed I closed the account on a Saturday after spending more than 2 hours on the phone with them. When I had allegedly discontinued service, I had been using my new carrier for several weeks and had disconnected the Vonage ATA box. They billed my American Express charge for the entire month, and I paid the entire bill. All was well until the next American Express bill arrived and the usual charge from Vonage was again on the bill again. I had now not used the service for 2 months Long waits finally got assurances form a Vonage employee that the service was discontinued, although no one would agree to credit me for the illegitimate charges. I paid the bill and moved on to more productive endeavors rather than fight over $30. The next month, you guessed it. Vonage billed my American Express again. I phoned American Express, and they contested the charges and since Vonge did not bother to prove they were legitimate, the charge was reversed. Every Month following that time, I had a new charge from Vonage that was contested and reversed. I repeated called Vonage and emailed them to no avail. As a rule no one could find my account when I phoned them or I was told it was an error. This continued for more than 2 years until I finally closed the American Express account. Finally all was quiet after 2 years of trying to get read of the Vonage beast.

Today I received two collection notices from an agency writing on Vonages’ behalf. They say I owe more than $250 for Vonage service including charges from last year – more than 2 years after I canceled service.

First, ask your ex-phone company for written confirmation that you canceled your service two years ago. Send your request directly to Vonage’s executive offices. Forward a copy of the confirmation letter to any debt collector that demands money. If, like Vonage, they don’t relent, threaten to report them for mail fraud.

RELATED: Sample Letter For Disputing A Debt Collection Notice
Unlawfully Billed? Threaten To Report Them For Mail Fraud
(Photo: Getty)

Comments

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  1. durkzilla says:

    I left Vonage back when it looked like Verizon was going to litigate them out of existence. No problems for me, I guess I was the lucky one…

  2. TouchMyMonkey says:

    Cancelled mine when our cable company (Adelphia) ended up in the gaping maw of Time Warner, and we realized this would not be an improvement over the status quo ante. I was happy with them as long as the cable internet worked.

  3. Caveat says:

    Never give any utility company or phone company, or anything with recurrent payments a real credit card number or direct access to your checking account. It is a bit more hassle, for when a credit card number is required, I generate a Citi card virtual number good for one time use only and expiring the following month. This has also been incredibely valuable for magazine subscriptions where the first year they give you an incredible deal and the following year they try to bill you at an incredibly high rate. Sorry, my virtual card is no longer valid! For bank payment, I use Wachovia where I manually have to approve and authorize to pay every bill.

    • Dyscord says:

      @Caveat: Actually, with vonage, you have NO CHOICE but to be put on reaccuring billing. They don’t give you any other option.

    • mythago says:

      @Caveat: And if the OP had tried that, rest assured he would be getting lots of comments calling him an idiot for doing business with Citi and Wachovia.

  4. Mr_Mantastic says:

    You paid the partial first month and the entire second month after canceling because you didn’t want to fight over $30? Then you expected them to stop billing you? I don’t know what your financial status is, but to me, $30 is a lot of money. That’s about 3 weeks worth of food from Costco! I would sue the mess out of Vonage for that bullcrap. It’s almost to the point now where you should just send notarized letters to companies via certified mail when you cancel service.

    • Coles_Law says:

      @Mr_Mantastic: I’d have paid the first month too-recurring payments rarely prorate charges. By the second month, I’d be checking my contract for “30 days notice” clauses, I’d have called (which he did too). Beyond that, he contested every charge, so I’d say he behaved quite rationally.

  5. seamustry says:

    I signed up for Vonage and I needed to cancel a few days later…the biggest hassle ever! They just wouldn’t let you cancel. There are so many holes to jump through to get a CSR that has the “authority” to cancel.

    • Jubilance22 says:

      @seamustry: I had Vonage for 2 years, and when I tried to cancel they keep me for 30 minutes, trying to convince me to stay. I said “no, I want to cancel” about 20 times until the overseas CSR finally made it to the end of his script and finally cancelled my account.

  6. lorenjfisher says:

    It’s the customers fault for not ensuring the account was actually closed properly by the CSR, not the company’s fault for billing the guy for the service he asked for.

    • Dyscord says:

      NetZero tried this shit with my wife a few months ago. We got the dial up service when Verizon screwed us over. We were considering Netzero DSL when we realized that we would be locked with them for a year and if we moved then we would be hit with an ETF. After settling for our cable company we called to cancel and was assured that it was canceled. The next month we got a bill from them. After calling, we were told that we were put on a “backup plan.” Listening to my wife explaining it to them like they were 3 years old was amusing. The fact that we had to wait a month for the next billing cycle for the refund was not.

      @lorenjfisher: That’s a bit of a stretch. The fact that they “can’t find his account” should tell them that it’s closed. The fact that he’s called them every month should say something. I don’t see how he could get blamed for this.

      All in all, what ever happened to being able to cancel services from the web? Remember how convenient that was? If it’s good enough for online games and such, it should be good enough for everything else.

    • Dobernala says:

      @lorenjfisher: He didn’t ask for the service, genius.

    • TWinter says:

      @lorenjfisher: Go read the comments code!!!

      Where is Roz when there’s actually a truly annoying violation of the code?

  7. randombob says:

    I’m looking into VoIP services… I’m curious, OP: What Co. did you end up going with?

  8. bohemian says:

    I really think this is Vonage’s new tactic to generate some income.

  9. picantel says:

    Vonage did this to me also. After I emailed them stating if they bothered me again we could play in court they decided to leave me alone.

  10. dragonfire81 says:

    They likely pulled an AOL on you and only told you they were cancelling.

    Reps who work in “Retention” departments make their money (and keep their jobs) by making sure customers choose NOT to cancel. It is certainly not above many of them to lie to you, say your account will be cancelled and leave it active.

    That way when you call back to attempt to get it cancelled again, you’ll be dealing with a new rep who will get stuck with the red mark of the cancellation, not the first rep you told to cancel it.

    If you don’t think this stuff goes on, you are deluding yourself.

    Find a Vonage executive to contact and if that doesn’t work, get a lawyer.

    • newfenoix says:

      @dragonfire81: I had to deal with AOL too. Had them set up on my debit card but they were stupid enough to send me a confirmation email about the cancellation. They tried to bill me three more times and when I sent a copy of the email to the bank, their legal office did the rest.

  11. DanKelley98 says:

    What kind of scam is this where the consumer has to jump through hoop after hoop in order to cancel?

    I will never do business with this company. And I’m forwarding this story to everyone I know.

    If you’re able to signup for service on the web, canceling should be just as easy.

    • FLConsumer says:

      @DanKelley98: It’s a failed marketing theory that it’s better to keep your customers at all costs, even if that means totally alienating your customers, especially the disgruntled ones. Bad strategy. By the time someone’s cancelling their account, it’s too late.

      It leaves people who are already unhappy with your product/service with an even worse impression of your company. People are more likely to say something to friends/colleagues when they’re displeased with a product/service than when they’re satisfied with it. Even the comments here prove it. Bad customer retention experience? What’s the first company that comes to mind? AOL. They’ll never live that down.

      @Mr_Mantastic: How does one spend ONLY $30 at Costco in a month, even if just looking at food? and how does someone eat for 3 weeks on $30? That’s an awful lot of Ramen.

  12. NotYou007 says:

    I love Vonage and I only pay 19.95 a month for unlimited service instead of 24.95 and I have an overseas rep to thank for that. I was going to drop Vonage and increase my cell plan but they gave me 3 free months to keep me and lowered the price to 19.95 a month. I didn’t ask for this, they offered it to me but I had also been a cust. for over a year who always paid his bill on time.

    They take their money each month on the 9th from my checking account and I’ve never had one single issue with them, ever. Mistakes happen in large companies all the time and I will continue to recommened Vonage to anyone that ask me about it.

    • Mr_Mantastic says:

      @NotYou007:

      Hey man good luck getting them to stop taking money from your account automatically every month on the 9th when you finally decide to cancel…

      • NotYou007 says:

        @Mr_Mantastic:

        That will be very simple to do. I can always close my account and open a new one if a problem does arise and they continue to take money from a closed account but I’ve very happen with Vonage and I have no plans to cancel their service for a very long time but if they did screw up and continued to take the money I could resolve the problem in 10 mins tops.

        They cannot withdraw on an account that does not exist.

        • BrianDaBrain says:

          @NotYou007: No, they can’t withdraw on an account that doesn’t exist, but they can wait a while then slap you with a collections notice. Did you read the article?

          To the OP: Escalate up the chain. Your account obviously DOES exist in their system, otherwise they couldn’t be billing you. It’s just a matter of getting somebody on the phone who is willing to find it for you (shouldn’t be THAT hard to find it, really).

          @FLConsumer: True, true. Loyal customers are the most profitable. Maybe someday, companies other than Southwest and Panera will realize this. :)

  13. Consumer1234321 says:

    This is not news to me. I canceled my Vonage account once and then tried to go back about a year later once Sunrocket disappeared. Apparently after waiting to have my number ported over Vonage told me that they still had my account and phone number from the previous year on their systems and couldn’t start porting the number until the old account (which had been gone for a year) was really removed. Oh and I had to call Vonage 42 times to get things sorted out. Sounds like the name of a blog: “I called Vonage 42 times”

  14. arungupta says:

    I had same experience with Vonage when I left them few years ago, but instead of billing me, two days after I cancelled service with them, they ported over my number after 10 months of wait. Since Vonage service was cancelled and Verizon transferred my number to Vonage, I lost my number and had to get a new one.

    I also had hours of wait before being able to talk to someone who could cancel service. Once I told them I was cancelling, they would start offering incentives but it just wasn’t good enough for me. I wanted my number ported over so I could stop paying long distance charges to Verizon.

    I have never ever even visited their website again, though they keep sending “come back to us” letters.

  15. mfidelman says:

    I had a vonage number that I used solely to forward to my cell phone, for business use (I’m on the road all the time). Our company then picked up speakeasy as a VOIP provider, and I had speakeasy port the number, and cancel the vonage account for me. Surprise, surprise… I get a $39.99 disconnect fee – what a ripoff.

  16. budboyy2k says:

    I was with my parents at the time of our subscription for Vonage (resident computer tech) and I swear I was fixing that damn thing everyday. It was either our internet was down because of it, our phone was down – and internet up, or both were down. After the subscription was over we immediately switched back to Verizon – thank god for them.

    -Brett

  17. johnnya2 says:

    Word to the wise on any cancellation GET A CANCELLATION NUMBER. Ask for a verification email, and send that verification to the executive offices if necessary. If you find yourself in a similar situation an easier way to avoid the charge is to say your card was lost or stolen. The new number will not allow them to try and bill you. They would need to send letters to threaten to cancel service and solve the issue.

  18. Brontide says:

    I had a similar experience, thankfully it only took me two times over so many months to actually cancel service.

    The gem that I found was that they continued to bill my card even after I took the precautions to CHANGE the card number through the account interface before I canceled service.

    The trick to getting through the system the second time was NOT answering their inane questions and responding with only a few answers.. “Are you authorized to close my account” and “Will you close my account”. Every time they asked my why I was canceling I went back to my stock answers.

  19. charodon says:

    OP: Do not wait for any response from Vonage. Send a letter (on paper) to the debt collector IMMEDIATELY contesting the debt and requesting proof that the debt is owed. You have 30 days from receipt. See 15 U.S.C. 1692g, part of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

    If you respond within 30 days, the debt collector has to obtain proof of the debt before continuing to collect the debt. Given the state of Vonage’s records here, I doubt they would be able to produce any “verification.”

  20. Aisley says:

    “First, ask your ex-phone company for written confirmation that you canceled your service two years ago.”

    I must say, this is not a very good and sound advise. Garry should be the one producing the written request. Have anybody heard the old song “no Sir, we never received a written message from you”? It is one of the top five in the “we believe the customer is an idiot” hit parade. And it has been in that top five position for many, many, many years.

    In my opinion, Garry’s mistake was paying the first false bill. Vonage knew it was a fake, but since Garry paid the first one, Vonage applied the “Who pays one keeps paying” rule.

    Let’s all and myself learn from this situation. NEVER, EVER do this type of transaction over the phone without written backup. If you closed your account, send the company a letter certifying that on this date, at that time, you spoke with such and such in order to cancel your account. Also NEVER, EVER forget to ask for a transaction numberand include it in the letter, ah! and send that letter certified