Tuesday, August 28, 2007

How Vonage lost a customer

In the early days of this blog I went into great detail about our disastrous turn with AT&T’s broadband phone service.

But we were still interested in VoIP and in time we switched to Vonage. I was pretty pleased the with service most of the time.

Now, a little more than two years later we’ve dumped Vonage and changed to Time Warner’s digital phone service. Here’s what happened…

Back in July we picked up the phone one day and discovered there was no dial tone. Eventually, when I couldn’t solve the problem on my own, I broke down and called tech support. After spending an hour on the phone with a technician, she determined that our phone adapter was dead and needed to be replaced.

For those unfamiliar with VoIP, the adapter is a box that connects to both our phone line in the house and our cable modem.

Anyway, the technician told me that the warranty had expired on our adapter. So we would have to buy and new one ourselves out of our own pocket. They range in price from $50 to about $80.

We kind of felt like we were getting screwed and didn’t want to shell out the money for a new device. So we decided make the switch to Time Warner. But Vonage doesn’t make it easy for their customers to leave and it took about a month for the switch to take effect.

Here’s the kicker. Yesterday we were switched over. Today I got a phone call at work (I don’t know how they got my work number) from Vonage. The woman said she was returning a call from us.

I said, “No, we didn’t call you – in fact we just discontinued your service.” Then I explained why.

So she offered to send me a free adapter and give me a 60-day free trial to lure me back. But I told her that I just got done with the month-long process of switching and didn’t want to start messing with my phone service again.

She assured me that she wasn’t going to switch me now. She was just going to send me the free device. Then if I decided in the next 60 days that I wanted Vonage, all I had to do was just call them and I’d already have the device and be good to go.

Ok. Fine. If it’s free, then what the hell. Go ahead and send me the adapter. Maybe upon further review we would decide Vonage would save us more money and decide to switch back. We could at least think about.

So she starts taking all of my information – address, phone number, etc. – and then tells me she’s going to charge me $14.95 for shipping and a $29.95 activation fee!

Woah! Hold it right there. Forget it, I told her. I didn’t want to give them any money.

She insisted that all of this would be refunded if after 60 days I still didn’t want Vonage. But I still said no. So she offered to waive the activation fee.

That’s when I said, “Look, it’s nice you want to give me a free adapter now. But if you had just given me the free adapter back in July you’d still have me as a customer and we wouldn’t be having this conversation now.”

At this point I reminded her that she had called me at work and that I needed to go. We had been on the phone for almost 10 minutes now. She wouldn’t take no for an answer and continued the hard sell. So I basically hung up on her.

So the moral of the story: take care of your customers when they need your help. If you don’t they’ll move on – and no matter what you try, you might not get them back.

3 comments:

PLANET3RRY said...

Hmmm... this could be renamed to How Vonage lost a potential customer...

They were trying some Jedi Mind tricks on you there...

Shannon said...

Umm, yeah. Any thoughts that I had to switching to Vonage just went POOF!

Funny, Time Warner called us last night to see if we wanted to use THEIR VoIP service.

We're just not ready to make that leap yet. Too many horror stories in general.

Scoop said...

I have had Vonage for one year and it has been good with only one outage, but yesterday while talking to my brother downstate the delay on the line was real bad, so I may start thinking thanks.

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