Vonage Phone Service

by Mr. Cheap

I love to save money and phone service is typically one of those big bills none of us like to pay each month. A little over a year ago, I was preparing to move in with my then girlfriend, and thought an excellent idea would be to move my number over to a VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) phone. These are basically phones that operate over the internet instead of being connected to Bell’s network.

There are a number of providers, but at the time Vonage was advertising like crazy. They seemed like the market leader (and I had had problems with Primus, my provider at the time). Although they promised to migrate my phone number, I had to keep on them constantly to actually make this happen (and I was nervous as the move was approaching that Primus would cancel my service at my old address and release my number back into the pool). Apparently number allocation still involves Bell, and they do everything they can to make this process difficult (ideally to embarrass their competition is what I was told).

Pretty well from the start, service quality was spotty. I’d be talking to people and occasionally (like once every hour or two) it would cut out for 3 seconds. Not the end of the world, but I got pretty sick of having to ask people “could you please repeat that, my phone cut out”.

The installation and portability of the phone was nice. You just hook it up to any internet connection, and start talking. In theory, you could be in Taiwan, talking on the phone, and to the rest of the world it would seem that you were in Toronto (your number WOULD be a local Toronto number).

The price seemed great at the start, but after I added unlimited minutes in Canada and the US it got up to about $40 / month, which doesn’t seem like a great deal these days. It *was* nice that ALL the bells and whistles are included with the basic line (you get call answer, call display, call waiting, call forwarding, conference calling, etc, etc, etc all included). It also was pretty neat that I could check my voice mail through a web browser (all callers would be displayed and you can play the messages as a sound clip).

The guy I talked to to cancel tried his damndest to keep me, offering to get technicians to help me improve my quality (I had already setup a new phone service through Rogers at this point so I wasn’t interested). When I refused that, he offered me one month free along with the promise of improved quality, and when I held firm, he offered me 2 months free before finally cancelling my account. So if you’re a Vonage customer, an easy way to get 2 months of free service would be to call and say you want to cancel :-).

As part of the cancellation, they hit me with a $50 “termination fee”. This was because I had been a customer less than 2 years. Supposedly this was in my service agreement, but I certainly don’t remember ever being warned of this when I was setting up the account. Please factor into your decision, if you ever decide to get VOIP and Vonage specifically, that they’re the type of company that will kick you in the teeth if you ever want to leave.

A man I was talking to at the University laughed at me and said there are a number of VOIP options that are far cheaper than Vonage. If it wasn’t for the sound quality issues I may have inquired further, but I’m basically off of VOIP at this point.

Have you ever used VOIP?  What was your experience like?  Who do you use as your landline phone service provider?

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{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

1 quietrose

I’m sorry Mr. Cheap that you had such a bad experience with Vonage and trying to cancel the service. It really does suck when companies try to charge people for leaving, especially since most of the time we are leaving because of bad service, expensive prices, dissatisfaction, etc.

Now, I’m not Canadian, so I don’t if your question applies to us Americans, but… I use AT&T for local calls only. I recently cancelled AT&T long distance which I had forever, because I found another company years ago, http://www.onesuite.com. that offered MUCH better prices for long distance across the world.

For the most part, I am quite pleased with OneSuite, especially the pay as yo go part and the no connection fees part. They even have service for Canadians! Check it out some time!

2 telly

We went from Vonage to Primus (we didn’t have to pay a cancellation fee at Vonage and had the service for just over a year). I actually found Primus to be even worse although Vonage quality was really bad when we were using Cogeco’s “internet lite” but upgrading solved that issue (and obviously cost more :( ).

When I cancelled Vonage, they offered their basic 500 plan for $14.95 (instead of the regular price of $19.95). We still checked out Primus (mostly because our internet provider had just jacked up their already expensive prices). In the end, we went back to Vonage (after paying a cancellation fee at Primus) and they gave me the $14.95 rate as I told them it would be the only way I’d come back.

One of the Vonage reps looked up various high speed internet providers for our area when I complained of the cost and recommended acanac (www.acanac.ca). We’ve since switched to them for internet service and still use Vonage for VOIP and have found both services to be great together.

Ironically, acanac also offers a VOIP service that is cheaper than Vonage ($9.95 / mth if you have your own VOIP ATA) but I found Vonage customer service to be so helpful that we’re sticking with them for now.

Acanac high speed ADSL is $18.95 / mth with an additional $8 / mth for naked (dry loop) DSL. So, $37 / mth for phone (including long distance) and high speed internet is pretty tough to beat imo.

3 guinness416

We’re having Primus problems at Casa Guinness and my husband has been talking about Vonage. I’ll start using carrier pigeons before I go back to Bell, so will be watching this thread to see other peoples’ experiences.

4 DW

We have used Primus for about 3 years now, in the early days it was a bit dodgy, but we have not had a dropped call or bad connection in a long long time. Perhaps it is our better internet connection, but it is only “High Speed Lite”. We pay (including unlimited US and Canadian calls and taxes) about $33/ month.

5 telly

We found Primus’ DSL to be frustratingly slow.

DW, the Primus website shows the “Lite” Bundle to be $39.95 / mth with no phone features and 5/minute for US & Canada calls, otherwise the package is $75. You must have gotten a great deal.

6 Kyle

For my first job out of college, I worked in engineering at a VOIP company. If done correctly, the quality is roughly comparable to cellular quality with about the same number of interruptions and dropped calls. Of course, that totally depends on the network and Vonage is known to be one of the lower-end providers. My position is, if I’m getting cell-quality service and I already have a cell phone, why do I need VOIP at all?

Another thing: 911 service works differently on a lot of VOIP carriers (or whatever the Canadian equivalent of 911 is).

7 riffraff

We’ve been with Vonage for a couple years now, and any issues we’ve had with VOIP have had to do with our DSL line. We’re now on dryloop with Teksavvy, an awesome ISP, and couldn’t be happier. (I recommend that people only consider VOIP if they have a solid internet connection.) There are other, cheaper VOIP providers, but we were more comfortable going with a bigger company, and find that the 500 min plan for $20/month including every feature you could ask for is a great deal. I love getting my voicemail by email and we were able to call family back home for free from our hotel in China using our adapter. Pretty cool!

8 David

I use skype for unlimited outgoing in North America ($3 a month) and a cell phone with free incoming with Bell for incoming calls. Of course I make use of my minutes if I have to make calls on the run.

Skype has the best quality of everything I’ve tried so far, and is by far the cheapest for the quality they’ve got. I’m just disappointed that they haven’t been able to get Canadian numbers for incoming yet. I’d actually highly recommend the way I’m doing things right now, especially if you have a cell phone already anyways.

If Skype gets incoming for Canada, definitely go for it. VOIP does cut out now and then from pc to pc, but my experience with calling regular phones through Skype has been seamless.

Oh and I live in Vancouver B.C.

9 growthinvalue

Oh VOIP,
In my experience, customer service is shoddy with most telcos, but as far as the actual sound quality goes, I’ve found VOIP’s quality to be pretty dependent on the quality of your Internet hook-up per se.

I’m reminded of a conversation I had with a friend last year, after he’d signed up for Bell’s ‘twice the speed of dial-up’ super-cheap Internet lite…

Me: “How is it?”
Him: “The good news is, it’s twice the speed of dial up.”
Me: “And the bad news?”
Him: “Were you not listening? It’s twice the speed of DIAL UP!”

10 Marina

I signed up for VOIP and internet with acanac (www.acanac.ca) and had half decent phone service for about a month, very bad service for another month and then no service at all after that.

In the beginning it would just cut out from time to time, but come back by itself. Then it got worse, I would have no service at all and would have to call (from my cell phone) to get it back (emailing them was pointless, my service never came back after an email, I just got some lame advice to read their FAQ pages, which I had already tried with no success). In the end even calling them could not get me my service back. The weird thing was that my phone would still ring, people could hear me answer or leave me messages, but I could not hear anyone talking to me and had no dial tone when I picked up the phone to make a call. They were pretty helpful when you called customer service, but in the end they couldn’t fix the problem and just refunded me what was pre-paid. I still have internet with them. And I don’t have a land line, just a cell phone now.

11 Jerry

VOIP works OK for us most of the time, but we are excited to take it with us in our overseas move this year for cheap calls home. We find that the better the internet service provider, the better the voice quality it leads to – no big surprise if you think about it. If you need absolute, iron-clad insurance of crystal clear calls, then go with a landline. Otherwise, it’s probably worth looking at VOIP!
Jerry

12 Looby

I’ve been using Skype for about 4 years and I love it. I’ve never had any problems, my mum has had to deal with their customer service a couple of times and they have always been very helpful.
I’ve tried wengophone and gizmo, but prefer Skype for call quality.

13 Greener Pastures

I’ve consistently heard great things about Skype and bad things about Vonage. Wish Vonage would spend some of that money they use on their advertising to improve their service-

Lisa

14 turfgirl

I have been with Vonage since 2003 through two states and in Canada. At times, the reception was spotty, but when I called their technical support, they were extremely helpful and following their advice solved the problem. Part of the problem was the modem we had gotten, but they replaced it with a higher end one for no charge. Now that we live in Canada, it is especially great having this service because all of our friends and family live in the States or around the globe. We are able to call them for free (we have the unlimited service and kept our U.S. number so our friends don’t pay international charges when they call) and the international rates (especially to Africa) are great. We have also been able to keep the U.S. rate by paying through a bank in the U.S. so keeping our U.S. number hasn’t cost us a penny more. Try that with your local phone company!

I have never had any major issues with Vonage, find their customer service to be extremely helpful, and hope to have the opportunity to remain their customer for a long time to come. Also, in the 5 years I have had the service, the price never went up – I can’t say the same for the local telephone companies.

15 theodore edwards

can i hook up my phone today

16 Four Pillars

Theodore – sure thing!

17 Mr. Cheap

Mike: lol!

18 Can't Cancel

My Vonage service has not been working for 6 weeks now and I can not get anyone there to cancel it. I stupidly had them charge my credit card every month so they just keep charging me and won’t let me through to cancel. Every time I call, the person who speaks very little English, will transfer me to the Cancelation Department. I will be on hold for about 30 minutes and then magically, get disconnected. When I call back again (if I have the 30 minutes to kill) the same thing happens. I just can not believe this. Bad, bad service and then you have to keep paying for nothing. DON”T GET VONAGE!!! It’s a $30 a month rip off!!!

19 Novice

I’ve been using primus talkbroadband since March 2005. Initially had lots of problems with it, but service has improved a lot since those days. I have rogers cable as my internet provider and have found the quality to be quite good. There is very occasionally some jitter but mostly its equivalent to a regular phone, plus I love primus’s added features, such as call treatments based on caller id (ie mom send to my cellphone, telemarketer to a message that says “number not accepting calls.”) all via a web portal. Could not imagine going back to bell. We pay $34 / month incl. taxes for unlimited long distance canada/lower 48.

20 pikachu

For Can’t Cancel:

Call your credit card company, explain the situation and request they block any more charges from Vonage. You’d be surprised at how quickly this will get Vonage’s attention and someone will call you back. In the meantime, notify Customer Service what you have done so they have record of you attempting to cancel and then having to resort to this drastic action.

Good luck.

21 yuji

Beware of Vonage. I just paid $ 49.99 for cancellation which was never agreed upon signing up with them. BEWARE OF VONAGE !

22 Mr. Cheap

Yuji: They did the same thing to me (and I was also very unimpressed).

23 Dan

I would appreciate a little info, if someone has it: I have AT&T DSL and home phone, with my home phone, I don’t have a long distance plan. I have always been able to call long distance for a stepped up price(since I don’t have a long distance plan) until a few months ago. Now if I try to call outside the local area I get the recording, ‘Were sorry, this call can not be completed from this phone, at the request of the customer’. Also, I can’t use numbers like 10-10-220 or 10-10-987 for reduced rates, whereas I always could before…. Did I accidentaly enter a code that blocks me from making long distance calls, or did AT&T change something so I have to buy new features to call outside my local area? Even after going to AT&T website questions were not adequately answered, and trying to get through to a live person at AT&T is like trying to set up a face to face appointment with President OBAMA, it just isn’t going to happen anytime soon. Any info or advice would be greatly appreciated, in my search for employment I am at a great disadvantage being restricted to local calls only, as it is I feel I would have an even chance of finding a job in Mogadishu, Somalia compared to Riverside, California, USA, where I now reside. Thank you from Dan, out of work plumber.

24 Matt

I switched from AT&T and broke my contract to get a prepaid Tracfone cell phone. I love Tracfone because they have something called double minutes, so for every minute that I buy I get one free, so it is very cheap. I also can call internationally for the same price as a domestic call, so I also save money there. I am so happy with Tracfone.

25 Jeremy

I’m in Canada and I’ve had Vonage for over 4 years now. I find it to be a great alternative to a POT for all the reasons listed above, and all the great features and long distance service they provide. The savings per month also add up quickly.

I’ve called Customer service on 3 or 4 occasions and they’ve always been able to address my concerns (and most of the issues I’ve had, have been a result of my own blunders). I find their call quality to be decent, and fairly consistent.

The cancellation fee you guys are talking about is if you cancel in the first year (or two, depending on when you signed up) and they do disclose that up front but it’s in the “fine print”.

I’m currently on the basic plan for 500 mins for $19.99 and they’ve never tried to change that. I’ve also recommended friends and family and they’ve always kept their word and issued the two months free service credit for the referral.

Basically, Vonage works like it’s supposed to for me.

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