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Post new topic   Reply to topic  Vonage® VoIP Forum - Vonage News, Reviews And Discussion » Vonage V-Phone & SoftPhone
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tburkes
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Posts: 18

PostPosted: Thu Sep 22, 2005 4:24 pm    Post subject: Cancellation Threat for Softphone Calls Originating Abroad Reply with quote Back to top

I was told by customer support (phone) that the engineers at Vonage would be able to tell if Vonage softphone calls were originating out side of the country, and could cancel that person's service. She said it was their policy, though not necessarily acted upon.

What the... !!!

Does anyone know if this was a misinformed customer support employee? Or is this actually an issue?

I was aghast, and told her that the Vonage website seemed to indicate otherwise, and although I could understand that they wouldn't offer support (especially for the hardware adapter for the main Vonage number if used abroad), that it shouldn't be against any rules... it would only add value to their service if it was useful for calls originating outside of the USA, Canada, & Puerto Rico. Neither limitation makes sense at all for the softphone. She said they "don't encourage calls originating from outside of the USA, Puerto Rico, and Canada", but I told her that the website gives a completely different impression, especially in regards to the softphone. I've cited examples below.

To me, the international access (calls originating from out side the US are charged as if they are originating from the US). I know for a fact that people have used their softphones and even the hardware adapter abroad (Europe anyway).


FROM THE Vonage WEBSITE:

http://vonage.com/features.php?feature=traveling

"Take it With You

The phone adapter available through Vonage is small and fully portable. Simply unplug the adapter and take it wherever you want it anywhere in the world. Just plug it into any broadband Internet connection, connect a phone, and your Vonage line is ready to go. "


http://vonage.com/features.php?feature=softphone

Vonage SoftPhone

Whether you're traveling across the globe or just into the next room, carrying on a conversation doesn't have to mean carrying extra equipment. Download Vonage SoftPhone and you can turn any PC or laptop into a full-functioning telephone.


I wish Vonage Customer support and the marketting people would get on same page. Its just wrong to have have to wait a half hour on the phone to be misinformed... or told something that conflicts with the website.

other seach terms: international abroad policy cancelled fine print
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MarleyX
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Joined: Feb 10, 2005
Posts: 82
Location: Fort Myers, FL

PostPosted: Sat Sep 24, 2005 2:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

If they do care, just use a vpn server such as openvpn to connect to a server back at the states. I had to do this about a year ago to get Vonage to work in China.
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tburkes
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Joined: Sep 22, 2005
Posts: 18

PostPosted: Mon Sep 26, 2005 3:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

Thanks for the response!

Smile

Unfortunately, some research turned up info that was a bit over my head, and I'm having trouble getting my mind around it. I'm on a Mac and running OSX, so openvpn sounds possible.

http://openvpn.net/

Could you be kind enough to explain in laymen's terms why openvpn would be helpful when originating calls abroad?

I just bought a pocket wireless 4-port router (Asus WL-530G). How would this figure into the scenario?

Again, I'm hoping that this customer care rep was confused about policy, and that Vonage does NOT consider it a transgression for Vonage customers to originate calls from abroad using either the Vonage provided adapter or the Softphone. It's another issue if the internet provider (hotel, internet cafe, etc) in countries around the world have their own policies against it, but it seems to me like Vonage is cutting their own throats if they are doing anything other than supporting that capability.

Does anyone know the de facto official policy?

I'd prefer not to have to skulk around... what a bother! I'd rather find a service that supports the international road warrior MO that's in my future. I travel 80% of the time, and some of that will be abroad. I'll be on a fairly tight budget, but I do appreciate convenience as I'm not a super techy.

Is Vonage the right international solution that I originally thought they were, for a simple, transparent, and inexpensive way for my friends and business associates to have a real time conversation with me no matter where I am in the world (assuming I have a broadband connection)?

Thanks all, ahead of time for your help. My 30-day trial time is coming to a close, and I'll need to make a decision soon.
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MarleyX
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Joined: Feb 10, 2005
Posts: 82
Location: Fort Myers, FL

PostPosted: Mon Sep 26, 2005 7:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

I don't think they are going to do anything to you, otherwise they would of dropped a lot of customers by now. Many of us take these devices out of the country all the time. The only company that I know that was enforcing this policy was Packet 8. When they found out some people were taking their devices to Mexico they automatically upgraded their plan to a more expensive one, without even telling their customers. If Vonage enforced this a lot of people would have been complaining about it on these forums. I don't think Vonage is about to do this. They even advertise that you can take it anywhere. The reason it is in the TOS is to protect them from lawsuits if you get caught using this in a country were it is illegal. Basically, you can take it where ever you want, but if you do something dumb Vonage is not responsible. For example, me using this in China. If I get caught it protects Vonage from me suing them over not telling me it was illegal there (unless I get a good lawyer but that is besides the point).

You can't run openvpn on your router. You would have to install two ethernet cards on your computer one for your internet and the other for Vonage. Your computer would always have to be turned on for you to use your phone. You would also need a sever out somewhere for openvpn to connect to. For your situation I don't think your are going to need this. This would probably be overkill and expensive. I have a linux server here at home dedicated for doing just that, I never shut it down. I have the wan connection on the first ethernet card (eth0). The second ethernet card (eth1) is connected to my switch, which is my private network. In order to prevent anyone from seeing what I am using the internet for, in this case China, Openvpn takes any traffic destined for the internet from eth1 and forwards it encapsulated in encrypted packets out eth0 to my dedicated server in Los Angeles. This way it seems that I am physically located in Los Angeles even thou I am in China. All china sees is random garbage in udp packets.
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tburkes
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Joined: Sep 22, 2005
Posts: 18

PostPosted: Fri Sep 30, 2005 4:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

Thanks so much MarleyX for your helpful comments and guidance.

Sounds like I won't need to make the technical modifications to the extent that you have, but I'm sure the information will come in handy to others.

In any case, it's reassuring to hear that others have not been cancelled for using the service abroad. ..

... er... has anyone?

... and has anyone else been told, or read, about this cancellation policy?


If my situation is not an abberration...


...then Vonage needs to retool their Customer Support's schpiel to match their marketting hype and the reality of their service, and to make any caveats clear up front, san's incongruent empty threats.

It's fundamentally deplorable to dangle a carrot to draw in customers and then threaten to cancel their service if they eat it.... and empty or inconsistently applied threats make them look just plain silly.

Like most adults, I'd rather have limations explained up front, and advised to be prepared for the carrot to occasionally have "worms" and that they're not responsible for either the worms or if we get sick eating them. Most people can understand that, especially in an international context. The world is full of grey areas, but Vonage's services and policies needn't be.

This bait and switch technique where the story unecessarily changes AFTER one signs up for the service (also used in pricing and significant cancellation fees), builds mistrust and degrades customer loyalty. It wouldn't take more than a couple extra lines and footnotes here and there on the company's website (and other advertising mediums) to clarify policy. Basic caveats should not be buried in the fine print. Vonage needs to treat it's customers in a more professional manner, and help them make informed decisions.

If Vonage want's "early adopters" to trust and help promote their business, then they need to be straight shooters. I suspect most people are looking to simplify their lives.

I'm more willing to be patient with a few bugs and growing pains if new company doesn't stink of old school advertising ploys and beaureucratic doublespeak quagmires. As the competition heats up, I'll have less patience.


Last edited by tburkes on Sat Oct 01, 2005 6:49 pm; edited 1 time in total
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pdrayton
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Joined: Nov 27, 2004
Posts: 49

PostPosted: Sat Oct 01, 2005 7:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

tburkes wrote:
It's fundamentally deplorable to dangle a carrot to draw in customers and then threaten to cancel their service if they eat it.... and empty or inconsistently applied threats make them look just plain silly.

Like most adults, I'd rather have limations explained up front, and advised to be prepared for the carrot to occasionally have "worms" and that they're not responsible for either the worms or if we get sick eating them. Most people can understand that, especially in an international context. The world is full of grey areas, but Vonage's services and policies needn't be.

This bait and switch technique where the story unecessarily changes AFTER one signs up for the service (also used in pricing and significant cancellation fees), builds mistrust and degrades customer loyalty. It wouldn't take more than a couple extra lines and footnotes here and there on the company's website (and other advertising mediums) to clarify policy. Basic caveats should not be buried in the fine print. Vonage needs to treat it's customers in a more professional manner, and help them make informed decisions.

If Vonage want's "early adopters" to trust and help promote their business, then they need to be straight shooters. I suspect most people are looking to simplify their lives.

I'm more willing to be patient with a few bugs and growing pains if new company doesn't stink of old school advertising ploys and beaureucratic doublespeak quagmires. As the competition heats up, I'll have less patience.

Is there a better competitor out there at the moment, for the international traveller?


I think you're getting yourself all worked up over nothing. Calm down and think for a moment.

There are over 200 countries on planet earth and each has its own laws and regulations regarding Voip.

Some countries may prohibit or highly regulate Voip. Many do not.

Just as cell phone companies and manufacturers don't tell you which countries prohibit you from bringing in your cell phone, Vonage isn't going to spend all of its time trying to figure out what the latest laws/regulations are in each country.

I would suggest you do research into the Voip laws & regulations of the countries you intend to visit to see if using a Vonage phone adaptor is permissable.

_________________
Comcast Motorola SB5120 modem ------> Linksys RTP 300 phone adaptor ------> Apple Airport Express router

21 Mbps downstream (Not sure why it's that fast... I have the basic service with a 6 Mbps guarantee)
360 kbps upstream
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tburkes
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Joined: Sep 22, 2005
Posts: 18

PostPosted: Sat Oct 01, 2005 3:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

pdrayton wrote:


I think you're getting yourself all worked up over nothing. Calm down and think for a moment.

There are over 200 countries on planet earth and each has its own laws and regulations regarding Voip.

Some countries may prohibit or highly regulate Voip. Many do not.

Just as cell phone companies and manufacturers don't tell you which countries prohibit you from bringing in your cell phone, Vonage isn't going to spend all of its time trying to figure out what the latest laws/regulations are in each country.

I would suggest you do research into the Voip laws & regulations of the countries you intend to visit to see if using a Vonage phone adaptor is permissable.



Um... you're missing my point completely. And perhaps you've not experienced Murphy's law abroad?

My beef is that the advertising, and official policy, don't match, and worse, that there is a threat of cancellation FROM Vonage hanging over our heads if we use the service as advertised... that's for both the adapter AND the softphone while abroad.

It's one thing for Vonage to say "it might not be allowed by other countries" .... but it's quite another for a customer service rep to make a blanket statement "we can tell when you're using your Softphone or Vonage adapter from abroad, and we can cancel your service completely if we notice." This same customer service person said "we dont encourage making calls from abroad", when indeed they do in big letters on the website.

Having often worked in advertising, I find these contradictions minimally confusing, and ultimately confidence & trust busting.

I mainly posted here to find out to what extent Vonage's cancellation policy was utilized, and I'm annoyed that I have to take the time to do so. I'm even more concerned that I need to live with the threat of cancellation when utilizing a service as advertised.

I sometimes go abroad for several months at a stretch, which is a bad time for Murphy's Law to kick into gear.


Last edited by tburkes on Sat Oct 01, 2005 7:02 pm; edited 1 time in total
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tburkes
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Joined: Sep 22, 2005
Posts: 18

PostPosted: Sat Oct 01, 2005 3:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

pdrayton wrote:

There are over 200 countries on planet earth and each has its own laws and regulations regarding Voip.

Some countries may prohibit or highly regulate Voip. Many do not.
... Vonage isn't going to spend all of its time trying to figure out what the latest laws/regulations are in each country.

I would suggest you do research into the Voip laws & regulations of the countries you intend to visit to see if using a Vonage phone adaptor is permissable.


Does anyone know a good resource for the aforementioned research? RE: Voip Adapter as well as Softphone paradigm?
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pdrayton
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Joined: Nov 27, 2004
Posts: 49

PostPosted: Sun Oct 02, 2005 2:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

tburkes wrote:
My beef is that the advertising, and official policy, don't match, and worse, that there is a threat of cancellation FROM Vonage hanging over our heads if we use the service as advertised... that's for both the adapter AND the softphone while abroad.

It's one thing for Vonage to say "it might not be allowed by other countries" .... but it's quite another for a customer service rep to make a blanket statement "we can tell when you're using your Softphone or Vonage adapter from abroad, and we can cancel your service completely if we notice." This same customer service person said "we dont encourage making calls from abroad", when indeed they do in big letters on the website.

Having often worked in advertising, I find these contradictions minimally confusing, and ultimately confidence & trust busting.


You've already seen the Vonage advertisements, you've seen the web site say that you can take Vonage with you, and I've even pointed out info from the Vonage web site that explains that foreign countries may regulate or even prohibit Voip and thus prevent using Vonage in certain countries.

Yet you describe a person answering a phone in a call center as official policy! Did it occur to you that the person you spoke with was wrong? If you have advertising experience (as I do with a Fortune 500 company both domestic and internationally) you'll know that all companies are challenged with making sure that the people who answer the phones give out information consistent with what is put in print.

One employee in a call center does not constitute official policy!

You're making a mountain out of a mole hill!

I'm a bit offended that you expect us to do your research to find out if Vonage will work for you overseas when you won't even tell us from what country or countries you'd like to use Vonage.

How about Bangladesh? Will resources about Voip regulation in Bangladesh work for you? Maybe Cameroon? Djibouti?

Why don't you do what experienced foreign travelers do and consult with the State Department? Condi Rice has some really good contacts Lol

I'm getting the impression that you don't actually want Vonage to work. Hence, my reluctance to find resources for you regarding Voip regulation in each of the more than 200 countries around the globe.

_________________
Comcast Motorola SB5120 modem ------> Linksys RTP 300 phone adaptor ------> Apple Airport Express router

21 Mbps downstream (Not sure why it's that fast... I have the basic service with a 6 Mbps guarantee)
360 kbps upstream
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kws
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Joined: Sep 24, 2005
Posts: 7

PostPosted: Sun Oct 02, 2005 2:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

Quote:
Yet you describe a person answering a phone in a call center as official policy! Did it occur to you that the person you spoke with was wrong? If you have advertising experience (as I do with a Fortune 500 company both domestic and internationally) you'll know that all companies are challenged with making sure that the people who answer the phones give out information consistent with what is put in print.


From the Vonage Terms of Service (emphasis mine):

Quote:
2.6 Use of Service and Device by Customers Outside the United States. Although we encourage you to use of the Service to place calls to foreign countries from within the United States, we do not presently offer or support the Service in any countries other than the United States and Canada. If you use the Service or the Device outside of the United States or Canada, you will be solely responsible for any violations of local laws and regulations resulting from such use. We reserve the right to terminate your Service immediately if we determine, in our sole and absolute discretion, that you have used the Service or the Device outside of the United States or Canada.


So the official policy does appear to differ considerably from the advertising and web statements.
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