Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Vonage Are Stupid, Evil Wankers

No one should ever, ever use Vonage.

Not long before my father died he had signed up for a Vonage account. He wasn't entirely happy with it, since it kept dropping calls on him. That, however, doesn't really any bearing on the sad, pathetic tale I'm about to tell. Before we get started, here's a little tip: when a loved one passes away the first thing you should do is cancel all credit cards and freeze the bank accounts. I didn't do that. If I had I would not be relating this to you now. So keep this in mind as you read on.

On the Monday following my father's passing away I just happened to call Vonage first to start canceling his various services. Things were going OK until I told the customer service rep on the phone the reason I wanted to cancel the service.
CSR: Hello, and thank you for calling Vonage. How may I help you?
Me: My father recently passed away and I would like to cancel his account.
CSR: Yes and thank you for calling Vonage. I will be happy to help you. What is the account number?
Me: (Thinking to myself)Is this person serious?
Me: (Giving account number)
CSR: Yes, I will be happy to help you with that account, Mr. Albritron. Why did you want to cancel?
Me: My father died. I want to cancel his account.
CSR: I'm very sorry to hear that Mr. Albritron. I will be happy to cancel your father's account. Would you be interested in our service?
It's at this point that I'm starting to get a little irritated, as you can imagine. Not only does the CSR sound like a droning monkey reading from a script but she just tried to upsell me. What the fuck? So we go around like this for a couple more rounds when we come to the point where the CSR tells me Vonage is going to charge a disconnect fee. Are you kidding me? I tried to cajole her into waving the fee for a few minutes and after getting nowhere I asked to speak to her supervisor, or someone who has the authority to waive the cancelation fee. The CSR then, essentially, refused to let me speak to a supervisor, telling me that she was the account manager and no one else had any authority to waive the cancelation fee. So after doing a bit of deep breathing I told her to cancel the damn account. I figured I would deal with the cancelation fee later. It was either that or I was going to reach through the phone and slam her face into her desk for being extremely stupid and unimaginative.

Let me just pause here and say to any company, such as Vonage, that lets employees refuse to transfer customers to supervisors: don't. Just don't. Nothing raises the ire of consumers more than being told they can't talk to a supervisor. When you do this you are essentially telling the customer that they are not important. Just don't do it. Now, back to the story...

So that was chapter one of the story. Chapter two starts about 3 weeks later after I get the certified death certificates from the state of Louisiana and fax a copy to Vonage along with a letter telling them where to send the refund check. After not hearing anything from them for a week (another big no-no) I called and got another CSR monkey on the phone. This one told me that oh, yes, they had gotten my fax. Vonage only needed my credit card number so they could process my refund. Uh, no. The exchange went something like this:
CSR: Yes, Mr. Allbritton, I'll be happy to help you with that. We just need your credit card to process your refund.
Me: I'm not giving you my credit card number.
CSR: That's how we issue refunds, sir.
Me: Not this time. You will cut me a check and mail it to me.
CSR: We don't do that sir.
Me: Let me speak to your supervisor, please.
CSR: Yes sir, but my supervisor will tell you the same thing.
(By this time I am, once again, getting extremely irritated having to deal with these people)
Me: That is the incorrect response. The only appropriate response from you I want to hear is "yes, Mr. Allbritton, please hold for a moment while I get my supervisor for you."
CSR: I understand sir. I was just trying to set your expectations.
Me: Honey, my expectations can't be set any lower. Now get your supervisor.
After that little exchange I was shunted into a "black hole" of telephone hell. There was no hold music, there was just silence. Plus no one came to find me; so after about 10 minutes of this passive-aggressive abuse I just hung up and wrote a letter to the CEO of the company which I faxed to his office. Thus endeth chapter 2 of this saga. Are you horrified yet?

Chapter 3 starts a couple of days later when I receive a call from a nice young lady on the "executive response team." Can you tell where this is going? After explaining the story to her all over again she agreed to refund me the $39.99 cancelation fee... Excuse me? I was promised a refund of $119.98 which is this stupid goddamned cancelation fee plus a $79.99 fee for the stupid goddamned Vonage box. So I patiently explained to this nice young woman that the first CSR monkey had told me I would be refunded the full amount. To which she replied that I need to return the hardware to get the $79.99 refunded. By this time I'm really losing my cool so I told her that she needed to get her CSR monkey-staff on a shorter leash because that is not what I was told. The nice young woman apologized for the "misunderstanding" (her word) but this is company policy (isn't it always?). Fine, I growled at her, just give me my money.

You would think that would be the end of it. But no! I got an email from her the next day saying she had issued a refund... to my father's credit card! The one that I had canceled! And after I told her I would not under any circumstances give Vonage my credit card number! Argh! How stupid are these people? To this email I replied:
Dear, Ms. XXXX.

This issue is not resolved to my satisfaction. I thought we had gotten this sorted out on our phone call last week. The reason I faxed my letter to your CEO, Mr. Lefler, is because I will not give you my credit card number and my father's credit card, which you have on file, has been canceled. On our phone call last week you agreed to issue me a check for the amount of the refund, not pester me about refunding to a credit card.

I suppose I now have no choice but to take this problem to the local consumer advocate at one of the local television stations in my area.

I have to say I find dealing with your company, and its intransigent processes and rules extremely tiresome. All you have to do is issue me a check and mail it to my address on the latter [sic] I faxed you last week. How difficult is this for you to accomplish?
Well the nice young woman from the "executive response team" called me within about 10 minutes of me sending this email and agreed to cut me a check. Which would take about 4 weeks. D'oh! So I got at least part of my money out of these stupid, evil wankers. So don't ever do business with these dumbass bastards. They will screw you.

This story does have a humorously ironic ending, though. It turns out my dad's bank has this program where they pick random account holders every month and pay one charge to their accounts, no matter what it is. And guess whose account got chosen in January, and which charge got paid by the bank? You guessed it. So I ended up getting all that money back anyway.

In closing I'd just like to say to the CEO of Vonage, Mr. Marc Lefler: Fuck you. You and your company suck. Stupid evil wankers.

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