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Vonage I recently ordered Vonage service and it is working pretty well so far, for the



I recently ordered Vonage service and it is working pretty well so far, for the most part. There are a few areas that could use some improvement, such as the clarity of instructions and the customer service.

I have a small network of three computers (plus one laptop) connected via cat-5 cables (and/or 802.11b) to a Linksys 2.4 GHZ router box that is then tied into a cable modem.

I orded the Vonage service on-line, which was pretty painless. A new linksys phone router was sent a few days later by DHL. I was on vacation at the time, and the box sat here for a few days.

I was a little apprehensive about setting it up, as in my experience, every piece of new technology involves at least several hours of pain, confusion, and talking to Sanjay on the 1-800 help line. And I say this as an old-time (pre-internet) computer guy, EE, and all around nerd.

The only problem I had was that the process was TOO SIMPLE and that Vonage makes it seem hard! The instruction sheets on the Vonage website are quite explicit and detailed, perhaps too much so.

Here is the reader's digest version:

1. Turn everything off.

2. Plug the Vonage box into your cable modem. DISCARD THE INSTALL DISK PROVIDED BY LINKSYS!

3. Plug your network box into the Vonage box. Plug a phone into "line 1" of the Vonage box as well.

4. Turn everything on. You should get dialtone.

It really was that simple. I was distracted for a half-hour with this silly install CD-ROM provided by LINKSYS. It is provided by the manufacturer, but you don't need (or want) to use it. Toss it!

The Linksys routers stack on top of each other (the legs lock together), so I have my network router right on top of the Vonage box. Lots of happy green lights blinking.

I also connected the phone line to my primitive home phone system (an ancient BBS Telcom private PBX) and it works well with that. The sound quality so far is excellent (better than Verizon copper), and it does not appear to affect the bandwidth of the internet connection when I am using the phone (which were two of the Vonage horror stories related to me by others, obviously untrue!).

The bad news? Customer service. I tried to call to find out (a) do I need to run this silly Linksys install CD, and (b) the status of my line number change. A call to the # on the website goes only to sales. If you press "2" for technical assistance, it says in so many words, "buzz off! go to the website!". Unfortunately, the website does not answer these questions in a direct manner, if at all.

The Vonage website suffers from information overload, frankly. Needs filtering. Too much information is worse than none at all.

I finally called the sales department and they gave me a toll number for customer service, which I called. Sanjay answered and it sounded like he was hollering down a well. I could not make myself understood. I asked to speak to someone 'merican and he transfered me to a bored operator who sounded like she was hollering down a well with a pillow over her face. Apparently Sanjay was trying to smother her.

After much hollering into the phone, I could not make myself understood, so I just hooked things up intuitively and tried it, and well, voila, it worked. So the customer service sucks, but the phone service itself is great. Once I navigated the website, I became more comfortable with the service and how to access data on the site.

I signed up for the 911 service which is now FREE apparently (I am sure there are lawsuits galore over this). But this is another exampe of how hard it is to find data BURIED in the Vonage site.

When I signed up a few weeks back, 911 service was an extra cost "add on" item. The site now encourages you to sign up for 911 service. Well, I figured they would, right? Get another $9.99 a month. After searching several screens, I found only one reference, a bullet point that read "911 service is free". No big hoopla over this change. It should be on the basic signup info, or at least on the TOS (yes, I am a lawyer and read the whole damn TOS, no mention that 911 is free).

But these are some minor teething pains, I guess.

The upshot? For $25 a month, I get rid of two phone lines here in Virginia ($124 a month with Verizon, the fax line I converted to an internet fax using MAXEMAIL for $14.99 a year), a phone line in Florida (a staggering $59 a month with BellSouth) as well as a phone line in NY.

I can travel now and plug in the Vonage box into my cable modem at any home, and have the same phone number wherever I go, for less than 1/5th the cost of traditional POTS via the Telcos. No call forwarding, no multiple voicemails to check, no hassle. While travelling, I can call-forward my calls to my cell phone. It really is a great concept.

To date, the changeover of my phone line to Vonage has not taken place, so I can dial out, but callers dialing in still come over my old POTS line from Verizon. I can't pull the plug on that until the changer occurs. So far, it has taken a couple of weeks, and no transfer (I am sure Verizon is in no hurry to do this!).

The sweetest part was telling Ma Bell to go get stuffed with her copper twisted pair, indifferent service, and horrible contract installers (and worse union techs). Verizon has this new "voice activated" customer service line. Have you tried it? Yuck! It made me long for Sanjay and his megaphone.

So the customer service phone sucks, yes, but then again so does Verizon, Cox communications, Bell South, Comcast, and all the other telcos and cable providers. If you call anyone these days, expect a 15 level DTMF telephone tree and a whole lot of useless information.

And if you do get a real live person, chances are, they are reading from a script, anyway, with ESL. So on that score, Vonage has what it takes to compete with the telcos.... ;)

But the technical side works well, and if you just ignore all the "helpful" instructions and just plug the damn thing in, it works right out of the box.

Regards,

-Bob.



Read The Full Thread:

My Vonage Experience - Good so far, for the most part.


The service is still running strong, but it can be inconsistent. So can Ma
Hey Robert: Excellent review. Please correct me if I am wrong - it is a
My recollection is that when I last checked into Vonage about 3-6 months ago, they

robertplattbell posted "I recently ordered Vonage service and it is working pretty well so far, for the" on 05/05/2005

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†AK and HI residents pay $29.95 shipping. ††Limited time offer. Valid for residents of the United States (&DC), 18 years or older, who open new accounts. Offer good while supplies last and only on new account activations. One kit per account/household. Offer cannot be combined with any other discounts, promotions or plans and is not applicable to past purchases. Good while supplies last. Allow up to 2 weeks for shipping. Other restrictions may apply.

1Unlimited calling and other services for all residential plans are based on normal residential, personal, non-commercial use. A combination of factors is used to determine abnormal use, including but not limited to: the number of unique numbers called, calls forwarded, minutes used and other factors. Subject to our Reasonable Use Policy and Terms of Service.

2Shipping and activation fees waived with 1-year agreement. An Early Termination Fee (with periodic pro-rated reductions) applies if service is terminated before the end of the first 12 months. Additional restrictions may apply. See Terms of Service for details.

HIGH SPEED INTERNET REQUIRED. †VALID FOR NEW LINES ONLY. RATES EXCLUDE INTERNET SERVICE, SURCHARGES, FEES AND TAXES. DEVICE MAY BE REFURBISHED. If you subscribe to plans with monthly minutes allotments, all call minutes placed from both from your home and registered ExtensionsTM phones will count toward your monthly minutes allotment. ExtensionsTM calls made from mobiles use airtime and may incur surcharges, depending on your mobile plan. Alarms, TTY and other systems may not be compatible. Vonage 911 service operates differently than traditional 911. See www.vonage.com/911 for details.

** Certain call types excluded.

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