Monthly Archives February 2005

Vonage? Probably Not.

Categories: VoIP.

So, since I finally have a respectable broadband pipe to my house, I was planning on getting Vonage’s service set up. Using the cell phone is kind of a pain for long calls (even under good circumstances, you get voice quality problems from time to time), and I can’t really tie up our home phone line too much when I work from home.

I know that there are a lot of similar services out there (AT&T’s Callvantage, Packet 8, Broadvoice, Lingo, etc.) but Vonage had my mindshare. They were the first real player in the field. They were Jeff Pulver’s company. They were the ones doing VoIP before VoIP was cool.

So, I poked around, figured out that I could get a phone adapter for free from Circuit City, pick it up from the store for instant satisfaction, and have the whole thing up and running in under an hour. 500 minutes anywhere in the U.S. or Canada for $15 a month sounded like a pretty good deal to me.

So, I went to the Vonage site and started figuring out how much my actual costs would be. There’s a $30 service activation fee, which seems a bit high, and is more than a little disappointing, but I can understand that they might have to charge to add a user to the system, since they don’t have any “you must stay a customer for x months” clause like, for example, cellphone carriers do.

Then, I started reading the contract terms.

…[T]he Service and Device are provided to you as a residential user, for your personal, residential, non-business and non-professional use. This means that you are not using them for any commercial or governmental activities, profit-making or non-profit, including but not limited to home office, business, sales, tele-commuting…

Hrmph. That kind of rules out what I want to use it for. On the other hand, there’s little chance that they’d bother figuring out — or even have a good way of figuring out — whether I’m complying with this provision.

So, I keep reading.

Customer will be charged a disconnect fee of $39.99 ($49.99 CAD) per voice line upon termination of Service for any reason or for convenience by Customer. The disconnect fee becomes due and payable immediately upon termination and will billed directly to Customer’s credit card.

Whoa! What? $40 to cancel the service? On top of a $30 activation fee? You want to charge me $70 in adminstrative fees? Consider me already cancelled. Vonage isn’t getting a penny out of me. And the goodwill is gone.

Anyone have any suggestions for VoIP providers who don’t hate their customers?