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Post new topic   Reply to topic  Vonage® VoIP Forum - Vonage News, Reviews And Discussion » Vonage Forum Archive
Author Message
Sernovitz
New Forum Member
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Joined: Jun 22, 2007
Posts: 3

PostPosted: Fri Jun 22, 2007 9:33 am    Post subject: Vonage is sending spam to your friends, using your name Reply with quote Back to top

Vonage is harvesting your friends' names from their refer-a-friend program to send spam promotions. Your name is being used too.

Read more: http://www.damniwish.com/2007/06/vonage-spams-cu.html

I am a Vonage customer. In December, 2004 I entered 18 friends' email addresses in their refer-a-friend program. This was clearly intended to be a one-time referral, on an opt-in basis, from me to my friends. 30 months later ....

Vonage crossed all lines of good taste, privacy, and ethics. They send a mass email to my friends -- USING MY NAME -- in a shameless promotion. In fact, my name was used in the email 3 times, as if I had endorsed the message and gave permission to use my friends' names.

* Vonage is harvesting names from their refer-a-friend program to send spam promotions.
* Vonage is violating their customers privacy by using data from customer accounts for a marketing campaign.
* Vonage has used their customers names for testimonials without permission of the customers.

Wow. Vonage is so evil on so many levels. And stupid.

What they did ...

* creates massive, insane anger
* is illegal - violates both CAN-SPAM and privacy statutes
* perverts the trust of their best customers, those who were willing to recommend them to their friends
* turns influentials into enemies

Warning: If you use the Vonage refer-a-friend program, they will harvest your friends' email address and spam them for years, using your name.

If this has happened to you:

1. Repost this message http://www.damniwish.com/2007/06/vonage-spams-cu.html
2. Comment on this blog If the rest of their customers are as angry as I am, this won't be the end of it.

(The saddest thing is that Vonage could have been a truly great company. Google great, Salesforce.com great. All they had to do was not be the phone company -- a very low bar. But they are so much more horrible that even the phone companies ever were. Worse service, worse support, and a crappy attitude. What a shame.)


Last edited by Sernovitz on Fri Jun 22, 2007 11:16 am; edited 2 times in total
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rebus
Vonage Forum Evangelist
Vonage Forum Evangelist


Joined: Dec 04, 2004
Posts: 448
Location: Tampa Bay

PostPosted: Fri Jun 22, 2007 10:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

The reason I visited this forum right now was to write about exactly the same thing. In my case, 2 years ago I used my wife's email address to send a referral, just out of curiosity to see what Vonage sends out when we use the refer-a-friend link.

This morning her address got spammed, and it had my name in it twice. (name changed for privacy)
Quote:

John Smith asked us to tell you about our great new Refer-A-Friend offer. From now through July 15th, sign up for Vonage and you'll get 1 Month FREE^ PLUS a limited time American Express® branded prepaid card worth $50!*
... then further down the page...

Click here to take advantage of this special limited time refer-a-friend offer and get Unlimited Local and Long Distance Calling for only $24.99 a month.† We'll even say "thanks" back to John Smith with a special credit towards their own service.


Pardon my language, but I am ROYALLY PISSED about this. They hijacked MY name WITHOUT my permission, for the sole purpose of spamming.

I swear to God, I hope once this story gets around, the blowback against Vonage is nasty and they take a real beating from it. At this point, if some lawyer took up a class action lawsuit for violation of CAN-SPAM (because the message purported to be at my request, which it was NOT) or some other statute, I'd be 100% behind them.
 


Last edited by rebus on Fri Jun 22, 2007 12:24 pm; edited 2 times in total
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Durp
Full Forum Member
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Joined: Nov 20, 2003
Posts: 41
Location: Houston, TX

PostPosted: Fri Jun 22, 2007 11:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

This happened to me as well! I too am pissed and am thinking about changing services. I have been a long time Vonage customer and am now really ashamed that I ever let them have my friends and family's email address. If I wanted to resend the invitation to sign up for Vonage, I could have sent another email. I never expected them to do this. The only reason I know about this is I used my personal email address as well to see what the referral letter looked like. I got their spam email this morning.

I will be sending Vonage a nasty email as well.
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rebus
Vonage Forum Evangelist
Vonage Forum Evangelist


Joined: Dec 04, 2004
Posts: 448
Location: Tampa Bay

PostPosted: Fri Jun 22, 2007 11:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

I googled around for 'vonage spam' and found this interesting article about Jeffrey Citron: http://www.siliconvalleysleuth.com/2006/02/fun_facts_in_vo.html

(Disclaimer: I have not personally verified the accuracy of the claims made in this article.)

Quote:
Citron earlier worked for Datek, a stock broker. In 2002 and 2003 he settled with the SEC, after he and several of his business associates were fined a record $70m for securities fraud and Citron ended up paying $22.5m. Citron as a result is banned from any involvement with stock brokers.

There is also a case where National Association of Securities Dealers fined Citron $20,000 and he received a 20 day suspension from Datek.

"There is a risk that some third parties will not do business with us, that some prospective investors will not purchase our securities or that some customers may be wary of signing up for service with us as a result of allegations against Mr. Citron and his past SEC and NASD settlements," the company notes.

So I guess we shouldn't be too surprised over the sleaze that seems to be oozing out of new orifices on a daily basis-- spamming in the name of their subscribers without permission, difficulty cancelling accounts, fat termination fees if you cancel during a whopping 2-year timeframe. I think this company's true colors are beginning to show through.

Whatever it takes to dominate the market-- ethics be damned.
 
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riddler
Vonage Forum Senior
Vonage Forum Senior


Joined: Dec 18, 2005
Posts: 83
Location: Tennessee

PostPosted: Fri Jun 22, 2007 9:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

Guess we need to stop referring our friends if this is going to be the case....I know I am not going to add anymore email invitations ...
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scerruti
Vonage Forum MVM
Vonage Forum <b>MVM</b>


Joined: Feb 05, 2005
Posts: 1424
Location: Carlsbad, CA (finally)

PostPosted: Fri Jun 22, 2007 11:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

I was formerly very active in this community, unfortunately work commitments reduced my participation. However, I had to come here to comment on this event. It was a complete breach of confidence for Vonage to send out these emails. Furthermore they did not even update the "Refer a Friend Manager" to reflect that the emails had been sent.

Vonage should send apologies to the referers and referees for this action. I am personally sending messages to the persons that they emailed in my name specifically stating what happened so as to counter any positive effect that this stunt may have.

If you haven't done so yet I urge you to delete any referrals in your account and send a message to Vonage requesting that they not send any emails out using your name.

Quote:
I hope this message finds you well.

Recently you may have received a message about Vonage that claimed to be from me. I would like to apologize for this message, Vonage appropriated my identity to attempt to sell you their service.

Over a year ago I provided you with information on Vonage as a follow up to personal discussion, I provided your email to Vonage with the intent of a one time solicitation initiated by me. Vonage, without notice or a chance for me to opt out, decided to send emails out to all previous referrals despite the time elapsed since the initial referral. This is just one more example of poor business decisions that Vonage has made.

While I remain a Vonage subscriber out of convenience, if you are interested in alternative phone service I would be happy to discuss other options with you and help you to find the best solutions for your needs.

I have attempted to remove your email address from Vonage's system, I hope this will prevent any recurrence.

Sincerely,
"The Real" Steve Cerruti


I cc'd billing@vonage.com because it is the email listed in the AUP. Is the two month credit worth allowing a corporation to assume your identity?

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Stephen P. Cerruti (ISP: TWC)
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scerruti
Vonage Forum MVM
Vonage Forum <b>MVM</b>


Joined: Feb 05, 2005
Posts: 1424
Location: Carlsbad, CA (finally)

PostPosted: Fri Jun 22, 2007 11:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

As far as I am concerned this constituted a form of identity theft. I am hoping that Vonage comes out with a release saying it was accidental or at least not thought out.

Quote:

Penalties for trafficking in personal information

Every person who, with the intent to defraud, acquires, transfers, or retains possession of personal identifying information of another person, is guilty of a crime punishable by up to $1,000 and one year in county jail. California Penal Code § 530.5

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Stephen P. Cerruti (ISP: TWC)
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Steve48
Vonage Forum MVM
Vonage Forum <b>MVM</b>


Joined: Aug 30, 2005
Posts: 4777

PostPosted: Sat Jun 23, 2007 3:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

I'll buy "not thought out". If they say that it was accidental, that would be an insult to our intelligence.

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Steve Gray
Orlando, FL
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rebus
Vonage Forum Evangelist
Vonage Forum Evangelist


Joined: Dec 04, 2004
Posts: 448
Location: Tampa Bay

PostPosted: Sun Jun 24, 2007 10:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

I'm willing to bet Vonage doesn't care. Why? Because people scream that Vonage sûcks and threaten to cancel their accounts, but in reality they do nothing and remain subscribers. So in the end the negative sentiment will not matter to Vonage, since they will probably end up with a Net Gain in subscriber base after this little stunt. A $50 gift card is enticing and people can be bought. As far as Vonage is concerned..... Mission Accomplished.

I've said repeatedly in this forum, Vonage was once a cool upstart with a great product for the masses, but has now become "too corporate for our own good." The only things that differentiate Vonage from the big telcos today are (1) the telcos are larger and still have more money and network assets, and (2) CEOs of the telcos aren't in trouble with the SEC and NASD over securities fraud, and barred from involvement with stock brokers, like Vonage's CEO.

The sleaze in this company starts at the top and has trickled down.

I am going to remain a Vonage customer out of convenience, but only temporarily. I am going to order a second Voip line from another carrier and evaluate its quality and reliability for a while. (2007 has been a bad year so far for Vonage outages, so it's not like this will be a hard service to beat.) If everything looks good, I'm going to tell Vonage to kiss my butt. They're going to lose a loyal, long-term (approaching 3 years) customer over this stunt, which I agree constitutes identity theft.
 
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maryjane
Vonage Forum Evangelist
Vonage Forum Evangelist


Joined: Dec 22, 2005
Posts: 409
Location: Michigan

PostPosted: Sun Jun 24, 2007 10:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

Interesting tidbit:

Important Notes

Refer-A-Friend offer is valid only for new activation and equipment purchase at the Vonage website. Purchases of Vonage equipment and/or service at retail locations or through partner websites are excluded from eligibility for the special Refer-A-Friend offer. Offer valid in US only and cannot be combined with any other offer.

The Refer-A-Friend program is intended for use by Vonage customers to refer family and friends. Vonage does not support spamming. Misuse of this program may result in the forfeit of credits accrued by the Vonage customer and referee(s) as well as disconnection of Vonage service.

By referring individuals you agree to the following conditions: To qualify, both referrer and referee must be customers in good standing for 90 days. If either cancels before 90 days, this will result in the loss of and /or chargeback of associated credits. The Refer-A-Friend program is subject to the Vonage Terms of Service and the Vonage Privacy Policy.

*The Referrer will receive a credit for 2 FREE months based on the plan the referral chooses (up to $50). Credit(s) have no cash value, are non-refundable and non-transferable. The New customer (the referee) will not be charged for the basic service fee of the plan they choose in the first month, but other charges will apply. See plan for details. Free month offer is available only to select new Vonage customers. Prices and charges are subject to change without notice. Other terms and conditions may apply. Void where prohibited. Vonage purchases made at retail are not eligible for the Refer-A-Friend offer. Offers cannot be combined and are subject to restrictions and limitations.

Info. can be found here

I will still remain a Vonage Customer, I would rather put up with a little spam problem than pay all the extra's (taxes and surcharges and fees) via a non Voip service

_________________
Location......Michigan
ISP...............Comcast
Voip..............Vonage
Router..........Linksys RTP300 FV1.00.60
Modem.........Motorola SB5100
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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.

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