Vonage Puts 911 Caller On Hold, House Burns Down

Oh, jeez. Way to go, Vonage:

A Minnesota homeowner charges VoIP provider Vonage put him on hold when he called 911 to report his house was on fire. The home was a total loss.

Loren Velthamp of Chanhassen, Minnesota, said he grabbed the phone and called 911 when he realized a fire has started in his home. “I called 911 using Vonage broadband and they put us on hold,” Velthamp told KSTP-TV in Minneapolis.
your house is burning down, and you’re put on hold by Vonage.

Really, what else can we say here? If you’re touting yourself as a viable VoIP alternative to traditional telephone services, your first responsibility is to make sure that the calls of people who are being murdered, raped, attacked or endangered get through to emergency services. But when Vonage isn’t putting people whose homes are on fire on hold, they’re routing 911 calls to emergency services administrative offices.

This is a good demonstration of why people still need a regular phone.

Vonage 911 Caller Put On Hold While House Burns Down [Consumer Affairs]


Edit Your Comment

  1. dotyoureyes says:

    I have Vonage. Vonage sent me PILES of email reminding me that it was MY RESPONSIBILITY to make sure Vonage knew my street address for 911 service, even after I’d filled out the necessary form.

    Vonage makes it clear that if I want fast 911 service, I have to enter the street address for each Vonage phone line.

    As noted in the KSTP story that originated this, “customers of Internet-based phone services must enter their address information on their own.” It appears this fire victim didn’t do that.

    Also, the guy was a dumbass — he ran back into his burning house twice to save his MP3 collection. The cops threatened to taser him and eventually locked him in a squad car for his own protection. I have very little sympathy.

  2. lgf says:

    I agree with the above poster. When we installed Vonage (and the very first thing I had my husband check and recheck) was that we had the necessary info and connections to call 911 and to hook up our security system to it as well.
    I was nagging about this for a week, until he assured me, it was fine. After that, we got rid of the land line.
    To all the friends to whom we have recommended the service, the first thing we tell them is “don’t forget about 911”. Apparently, Vonage sets that automatically now, though. But we tell them to check anyway.
    We haven’t called 911, but we did get a call from our security company one time the alarm went off, so that’s working. Also, when our broadband connection goes down, the calls get automatically (and immediately) routed to my husband’s cellphone, so no loss of calls.
    YOU need to check when you activate service. It’s your phone. It’s new technology. Get educated, or don’t use it. We like it, and it saves us a ton of money because we have family overseas.