If you are thinking of signing up for Vonage account you had better read the terms and conditions before you start. I have been using the Vonage system for just over two years now as my business line and it really hasn’t been that bad. For the most part, call quality has not been too bad, I’ve had some occasional calls with echoes and some where the person I’m calling can’t hear me, as well a few with delays. While these don’t happen often they can be frustrating. Usually a quick reconnect solves the problem. These don’t happen too often and since I don’t use the phone all that much the service does save me money over a dedicated phone line. Another thing that helps is that I also have a very high speed cable network which helps with the call quality (Shaw’s Extreme-I service). Recently I found a website based in the U.S. called www.wehatevonage.com. This site while lists complaints that people have about Vonage service and technical support. Some of the complaints are people not knowing any better and transferring phone service from their DSL provider and losing their high speed Internet connection at the same time. They indicate that Vonage does not tell them this could happen (and I know most aren’t Internet gurus) and they are mad at Vonage (there should be some blame paced on their DSL provider). I have blogged on this before, indicating that you need naked DSL service to use Vonage without an analog phone line. TELUS currently does not provide a naked DSL service, so you are throwing away money using Vonage with them. The other most often cited major problem is people trying to cancel accounts and in some cases it taking several tries and several months’ worth of phone calls to Vonage to try and cancel their accounts and then finding out that there’s a fee for cancellation. Another very common complaint at the website above is people complaining about trying to cancel the service within the 30 day free trial period. These people are indicating that Vonage is saying the 30 days begin with a signup and not when they receive and activate their phone adaptors. These people are being charged the $50.00 disconnection fee as well as complaining about fees for unused months being charged.
When I first started with Vonage Canada’s service, there was a $50.00 fee if you cancelled within three months and the fee was waived after this. About a year ago I received a notice indicating that they would no longer charge the 50.00 cancellation fee. Today after reading the above site, I went back to check on Vonage Canada’s terms of service, only to find out that if your account is opened after February 1, 2007, you will have to pay a $50.00 cancellation fee if you cancel your account within two years. If you connected or activated your service on or before January 31, 2007, the cancellation fee will be waived if your account was open for one year. I am not sure what I would do if I cancelled my account today, as I have been using it as my business line. I will be checking with my phone provider, Shaw Cable, to see if I can move the phone number to their system. The only other problem I have is that I am also using Vonage’s fax services which would probably require a third line (with Telus) into my house. When I started with Shaw there that had no second line program. At least now they offer a Digital Phone light service (all features, cheap long distance).
While Vonage has been convenient and has worked for me so far, some people are not happy to call quality and the occasional echo that you can get. One thing I like about the Vonage service is that I can take my adaptor when I travel. For example, I was in Hawaii this January and I took my Vonage adapter, connected to the high speed Internet Service in the condo and was able to receive calls without people having to dial long distance, and make calls without incurring long distance charges on the condo phone. I know there have been some problems with 310 numbers that are used for government and pizza places, as well as some problems reaching Canadian 1800 numbers because they cannot tell where the call is being routed from. There is one advantage to this however; as my daughter can make calls to Radio Disney’s toll free number and they get through, unlike when we tried to call from a regular phone line. They block non U.S. calls to their toll free numbers.
As I’ve stated a couple of times, I’m very happy with the Vonage service. Would I use it for a home phone service? Probably not. I expect my phone to work all the time, and while there were some small growing pains when we switched our phone to Shaw’s Digital phone service, (a couple of times we had some echoes, that this was as a result of their call volumes being louder and using it with a cordless phone). The service and value has been excellent. We have used Shaw’s Digital phone for two years and other than the first couple of months and the slight echo the service has been great. I have also a few friends that are using Vonage as home service and have been happy with it. I have also set it up as a long distance line for my sisters to call Calgary from Victoria as the Vonage phone is setup with a local Victoria phone number.
As with any type of service before getting into it always read the fine print. Most companies publish terms of service on their web sites to can actually read them before you sign up for or activate any service. If you don’t read the terms of service, if you do have a complaint about the service, there is really not a lot you can do as in most cases, signing up or activating indicates that you accept that the terms and conditions. As always it is buyer beware.