Thursday, February 23, 2006

Vonnage Costs To Customers Just Went Up.....Huh Oh

My favorite VoIP provider (NOT) just shot themselves in the foot again. Seems they're getting pretty good at that. LOL I think folks ought to seriously look at switching to Packet8 while they can.

Vonnage costs more than most of the compatition AND the quality isn't any better even worse than some. Now this......

Is anybody listening??

According to some Vonage users on the independently owned Vonage Forum, they have been receiving emails from Vonage in recent days stating that Vonage plans to add additional "911 Fees and "Emergency Cost Recovery Fees."

These reports say the Emergency Cost Recovery fee will be 99 cents a month for each line of service, while the levy for regular 911 fees will vary by state.

The thread on which this report is cited is entitled "New Fee". Woo hoo.Woo, hoo hoo. - a not so subtle dig at the music used in Vonage's tv commercials. This matter obviously has grabbed the interest of Vonage users as it's garnered a ton of reply posts and the thread itself has been viewed more than 1,300 times in less than a day.

Here's the letter in question, which Vonage customers apparently started to receive last week:


911 Fees & Emergency 911 Cost Recovery

In order to comply with State and Federal regulations and ensure that our customers get access to emergency services, we will be adding two new fees to invoices for all residential and small business lines, fax lines and SoftPhone lines, beginning on or about February 19:

The Emergency 911 Cost Recovery fee is $0.99 for each line of service, regardless of where the customer is located. ALL customers will see this charge applied to their invoices for all residential and small business lines, fax lines and SoftPhone lines on or about February 19.

The 911 fees will vary by state, and will only apply to invoices for customers within 5 states — Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oregon and Rhode Island — on or about February 19. These fees will roll-out to other states throughout 2006.


Not surprisingly, most thread posters are not happy about these charges. And I don't blame them. It seems that if Vonage were only to redirect a bit of the massive marketing $$$$$s they spend on tv and Internet ads to this critical infrastructure issue, they wouldn't have to think about recovering E-911 costs.

Now....haven't you heard me harp on Vonnage's extravagent marketing campaign and costs before. Are you NOW starting to get the picture???

Even Vonage Forum "Member of the Week" NateHoy posts a rather sarcastic comment on the situation:

"I think this is a "cart before the horse" problem, the same one that the local telcos had years back. The telcos started charging 911 charges in some cases YEARS before they had a 911 system up and operational, but in many cases they used (or at least claimed to use) the money to set up their 911 capabilities.

911 is a wonderful service, but it ain't cheap. The Man sez they gots to have it on every line in the US, and Vonage was unfortunate enough to be classified as a phone line meeting that requirement under FCC regs. Someone's gotta pay for all those gewgaws and doodads and das blinkenlights, and you know it ain't gonna be the FCC, and Vonage has already sunk big buckeroonies into setting this up… "

And so the compliance fees begin…

Anyone want to take bets on when Vonnage starts charging a LNP (Local Number Portability) $1 fee?

I bet every local municipality is now looking at just how much they can tack on and rake in for various "community" or "school" levies.

And as Russell Shaw of ZDNet has said are still not getting true E911. Fees or not.


Blogger The humble Farmer said...

I've been hearing about Vonnage but want to read a bit more.

A. Are the calls really free to Holland and Sweden?

B. Do they give us a new number or can we use the one all of our friends have in their directories?

C. The post office is no longer in the phone book. I suppose that this means that Vonnage customers will also vanish from the face of the earth.

D. I think I'll ask my radio friends about this on my next program.

Anything you can tell me about your experience, good or bad, with Vonnage would be appreciated by the masses.

Thanks, The humble Farmer, Maine Public Radio

1:30 PM  

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