My Vonage Story

A few months ago we switched at home to Vonage VOIP, and we’re loving it. Even without dumping our phone line, we’re still saving money, over $250 a year before we even make a call!

Why We Switched
Our local phone service and DSL is provided by Verizon, and long distance was provided by AT&T. What got me initially looking at VOIP was AT&T telling me they were raising the monthly long distance fee by a dollar. Then I hear that Verizon were going to increase their charges too, so I took a closer look at the phone bills. Full details are later on, but before we even make any calls, we save $23.29 per month! Once we start calling the UK, we save 9c/min over the old way. If we use less than 500 minutes per month within the US/Canada, we don’t pay anything extra for other calls.

Unlike many VOIP customers, I did not cut our land line entirely. I needed to leave it because our DSL requires it, plus our alarm system and our HDTivo would require modifications. This also allowed us to try VOIP out without changing over our phone number to the new system, to reduce the risk.

Installation was hell: we ordered direct from Vonage and they sent a free Linksys RT31P2 box. The default IP address for this box was 192.168. 15.1, which meant it was invisible on our home network (which uses 192.168.1.x addressing). I’ll spare you the details, but it took many frustrating hours, and I do have a reasonable understanding of TCP/IP. If you don’t have a home network, but just plug your PC into your modem/cable box then I think everything will work out-of-the-box.

Anyway once it was installed, the box contacted Vonage and set itself up – I think it upgrades its own firmware as well at this point. I plugged a phone into the box and bam – I was in business. My original idea was to wire the Vonage phone line into the line 2 wiring in my house, but when I popped open a phone jack I discovered I didn’t have any line 2 wiring at all! Instead I connected the Vonage box as Line 1 to my cordless base-station, and the old phone line as Line 2. The house wiring was unchanged, so the alarm and the TiVo stay happy.

If you can dump your landline, then not only will you save more money ($20 in my case), but you can switch your old number onto your Vonage line. As I said, this wasn’t an option for me, instead I changed the outgoing message on the landline’s voicemail to tell everyone to use the new number: I left this going for a couple of months before canceling most of my landline features.

In Use
We can’t detect any difference in use with Vonage vs the landline. Our DSL is pretty slow (256k/1.5M, minimum is 90kbps up) but this hasn’t impacted the call quality that we can tell. When you call out on the Vonage line, callers with caller ID will see your number, but they won’t see your name, and there is nothing you can do about it: it’s a weird design feature I guess. Feature-wise you get everything your phone company has the cheek to charge you extra for: caller ID, voicemail, call waiting etc. You also get new features, like checking your voicemail via their web site, and have the option of additional numbers and lines for fax, for example. If you get another number you can get one in a different area code, or even a different county: I could get a UK number for example which would make it very cheap for my relatives to call me, as it wouldn’t be an international call for them. (I chose not to as the volume isn’t worth it for us).

Apart from the hellish install, we haven’t had any problems. We had one day when we couldn't retrieve our voicemail via the phone, so we listened to it via the web site instead. Billing is electronic and automatic (via a credit card) which is very convenient. If you search around, there are issues with TiVos that cannot use the internet (such as my HDTiVo) and alarms may need modification: by keeping the landline I avoided those. There is a lot of debate about 911 issues over VOIP: it doesn’t effect us because we still have the landline, plus two cellphones we can use to dial 911 if the Vonage one can’t handle it (or the power or DSL is down).

How We Save $23.29 Every Month
Verizon: Local package $25.95 + Interstate subscriber line $6.50 + tax $4.97 + voicemail $6.95 = $44.37
AT&T: One Rate Off Peak II $4.95 + International plan $3.00 + taxes $7.47 = $15.42
Total before: $59.79
Includes unlimited local calls, UK for 13c/min, long distance for more than that!

Verizon: Line + basic plan $9.68 + Interstate subscribe line $6.50 + taxes $3.31 = $19.49
Vonage: $14.99 + $2.02 taxes = $17.01
Total after: $36.50
Includes 500 mins US/Canada calling per month, which is plenty for us (the $25 plan allows unlimited calling). We can call the UK for 2c/min. TiVo using the landline for local calls is 1.5c/min.

Comments (21)
  1. MSDN Archive says:

    "We had one day when we retrieve "

    I think you want "couldn’t" in there.

    I’ve thought about doing this, but I have already canceled my long-distance, so the $15.42 that you list I don’t have. I hardly make any long distance calls, and when I need to, I use the cell.

  2. Andy Pennell says:

    Turns out in order to cancel long-distance, you have to tell your Local company as well as your LD company. Verizon charged me $8 to remove my LD, but its a one-off charge, and AT&T should stop billing me for "not-LD" service now.

  3. bones says:

    Try calling the power company to tell them that your power is out, and you will notice the difference.


  4. Andy Pennell says:

    re Mr. Bones comment: If the power is out, most people can’t use the phone anyway if it is a cordless model, for example. VOIP doesn’t change that.

    Power is not an issue as I still have a land-line, which in one place is connected to a direct wired phone (how quaint!). We also have two cellphones.

    FYI I have tried calling my power company when the power is out: they are useless even if I can get through.

  5. athena says:

    Vonage may have lost me a major business contract. I cancelled the service the same day I got it, having discovered that the voice quality was deplorable. Nevertheless, a week later they sent a purchase order to my regular phone company, at which point my phone service was cut off, and all my voice mail lost!! Vonage customer support was 100% useless in resolving the problem, and the original company would have charged me to connect a brand new line, so I ended up going to a third provider. My whole experience with Vonage was a nightmare from start to finish, costing me a total of over 9 very frustrating hours of my life, and a potentially verty lucrative contract. Although I cancelled with vonage the same day, and returned their device to them immediately, they still have not reimbursed me, as per their so-called guarantee.

  6. Chad says:

    Vonage is tempting at first because of the price.  We suffered through their terrible service for 6 months before finally giving up and opting to pay the extra to return to SBC.  

    Besides the inability to dial 911 (a big minus for me), the call quality was awful.  Calls would regularly just drop out for no reason.  Once every other week there would be no dial tone and I would have to reboot the router and cable modem.  

    We could not make many of the 1800 number calls that you normally could, for example when trying to call the city for a garbage pick up I got a message telling me I was calling from outside the authorised area.  It took over 2 days to track down a local number to call them on because there was no getting through on the toll free number.  

    Often I would place a call and when the other person picked up all I would hear is loud hissing and scratching, barely discernible voice at the other end.  

    Even disconnection was a nightmare.  You call the number for Vonage.  After holding for ages, they try to convince me not to disconnect.  Then they tell me that I have to call a different number and so I call the new number and sit on hold for almost 45 minutes.  This new guy is a complete jerk when I tell him I am calling to cancel.  Now that it is off I discover they have auto debited my account TWICE for the same disconnection fee and will not give me back the money.


  7. Andy-Pennell says:

    Well its been nine months, and we are still very happy Vonage customers. The only issue we ever have is sometimes the New Message light comes on when there are no new messeages.

    I have never had to reboot the router. It is probably the only piece of network hardware I have that I can say that about.

    Maybe at least some of these issues are due to the quality of others’ DSL/cable lines? Verizon may charge too much for their phone service, but their data service has been very good to us.

  8. David says:

    I just got vonage and I do not like the sound quality I called from CA to VA and am not happy with how it sounded. ATT has unlimited long distance calling for 15 bucks. I need to call and cancell vonage.

  9. Chris says:

    Why would anyone ever pay for voicemail?  Get an answering machine!  🙂

  10. KinKansas says:

    My experience with Vonage has been horrible and their customer service is lousy! I was on the phone with 2 different tech reps for nearly an hour each time trying to get the system installed and working. Both knew it was not working.  A third rep called and promised she’d call back, but never did.  I contacted Vonage repeatedly asking for help, with no response.  Then they send an email saying they successfully charged my credit card!  I promptly responded requesting they reverse the charges and troubleshoot the system and get it working.  No response from Vonage.  I contact them 3 more times, asking how to return the unit. They tell me to call their Customer Care phone number, which I tried on two different occasions.  Finally, after being on hold for 55 minutes and transferred to 4 different departments, I’m told I cannot return the unit because it is past the 30 days and they are CHARGING ME nearly $119 to cancel the service – which I never had in the first place!!!  The account management rep admitted that she hears from "many upset customers every day" – duh . . . big red flag!!!! I called their corporate office and had to leave yet another message and someone will supposedly call me back within 4 business hours!  Ha!  We’ll see!  Vonage is the biggest rip off currently out there!

  11. Joan Of Arc says:

    People need to read the term of agreement, before they make their decision, to go Voip.. The ones that don’t, are the ones that scream the loudest..

  12. L Harris says:

    …it’s the perfect time to take an advantage of a company in trouble. Just look at the discounts they are making to attract more customers

    It’s insane…

  13. Lara says:

    I started using vonage as a fax line.  The first month I couldn’t get a dial tone.  They were sure it was a techincal problem with my set-up.  After several days of trying to get tech support on the line and hours on the phone with the tech people they finally checked the line themselves and realized it was their error.  So I payed for a month of service without service or a refund.  Several months later I no longer needed the line.  I was told initially that my contract was six months, but didn’t read the contract, which stated a year.  I was trying to find a better way of getting out of paying the $39.99 cancelation charge.  I was told by a customer care person that I could switch to a net-zero plan for $4.99/mo and call the next day and place my service on a two month probationary period after which it would be canceled without the cancelation fee.  This was incorrect. I payed another month of my original plan and switched to the net zero plan.  They then informed me that I would still have to pay the cancelation fee anyways.  So after appproximately 4 hours of cell phone time (on hold most of the time and then listening to the forever appologies that came afterwards) I still payed the $39.99 cancelation fee and another month of service.  

    Every time my internet service was out of the power was out I was unable to receive faxes.  So not only did I suffer with the most atrocious customer service I’ve ever encountered, but the phone service was beyond poor.  My opinion is that you will than same more than money with verizon and others.  

  14. Paul Warner says:

    I also have Vonage and am sorry I ever tried it. I have nothing but disconnected calls and large gaps in transmission. I can’t imagine how they intend to stay in business with that level of service. Mine too, started out OK, but soon changed to just terrible service. I would not recommend them to my worst enemy.

  15. George says:

    Vonage Customer service sucks!!!

    When it works it’s great but when it doesn’t it doesn’t work and it sucks.

    Spent over an hour on the phone with tech support which has you turn the modem on/off, router on/off and then tells you I need to transfer you to Level 2 tech support.  Placed on hold for 30 minutes.

    This sucks!

    Still to this day 5 days later, problem unresolved.

    The idea is good, but it doesn’t work yet…  I would say WAIT UNTIL THE TECHNOLOGY IS IMPROVED BEFORE SWITCHING OVER.

  16. Gregory J. Reynolds says:

    I switched to VONAGE and received the package as advertised whoever VONAGE service was down 5 months of the 6 months that I had VONAGE.

    I left VONAGE cancelling service however VONAGE would not release me from my payments.  VONAGE continued to bill my charge card for over a year each month I had to disput the billing.  

    Comcast took over the service.  VONAGE refused to release the phone number for over 30 days.  It took two complaints from the FCC and the threat of law suit to get VONAGE to release MY PHONE NUMBER to Comcast.  1 year and 6 months later I called home from work and received a message that my number had been disconnected.  After troubleshooting the problem with Comcast we discovered that VONAGE had once again taken MY PHONE NUMBER for their own use, how can they do that??? I have called the FCC and started another complaint with VONAGE.  In my opinon VONAGE SUCKS and should not be allowed to operate in any place other than BAGDAD.

    Greg in Colorado

  17. I have been in business for 47 years. Of all the people and companies we’ve dealt with Vonage is the worst!  I have been trying to cancel their service for 8 months and all they do is keep charging my credit card. sofar $550. !!!!  10 days into this experience they sent me a confirmation my service was canceled. It has been a nitemere since.

  18. Ross Craig says:

    I travel to Europe and Asia a couple times a month.  I was in Budapest and this was going to be the first time my wife was going to call me using the Vonage line.  She couldn’t call me, so I ended up calling her from the hotel, $60 for a 10 minute phone call.  She was on tech support hell for over an hour.  I came home from the trip and tried to call Budapest and still it wouldn’t work.  I called tech support and again was on hold forever.  Buddy.  He was going to do some changes and assured me it would work in 10 minutes.  I let it go for 30 minutes and still nothing.  I decided to call again in the morning, thinking that tech support would be fast, big mistake.  This time I was on hold for 1 hour and 20 minutes, this guy was going to make some changes, told me to unplug the box for 2 minutes and plug it back in and he would call me back in 10 minutes, took him over an hour to call me back, and I had already called tech support in the meantime again.  This guy did some more changes and once again I rebooted the vonage device, and he called me back in 10 minutes and I had the pleasure of telling him that I can still not call an international number.  He told me he is going to do more research and will call me back.  I need to be able to call international, especially to the UK, since it is free and I go there on business.

    Not impressed with the system, local calls drop.  I am on high speed cable with speeds at 10 mbps!

  19. David says:

    I signed up for Vonage service 9 months ago. It never worked the entire time, but they kept reminding me that if I cancelled before my year was up, I would be charged a cancellation fee (even after acknowledging that my service never worked!). I’ve spent a total of 11 hours with customer support (they were clueless) over this timeframe and finally cancelled today. I figure paying the extra charge for early cancellation was worth ridding myself of this horrible disease of a company and seeing that annoying charge on my credit card every month.

    Vonage service seems so useful, but it turned out to be the biggest waste of money and time as well as my most frustrating business tool I’ve used in the past few years! Bottom line, Vonage is horrible.

  20. Ed B says:

    Vontage has work  3 week out of the past four months.

    The thing that got me was they blamed my internet provider COMCAST.  I paid to have Comcast come to my home and run tests. I purchased a new modem and a new router at the suggestion of Vontage. People calling can not hear me till after 30 seconds call connects. When I place a call it never rings on the other end.

    I have placed about 30 calles into vontage in 4 months and many hours of my time.

    I have done everything they asked me to do.

    As of right now I still have the above problems.

    The last call I made to Vontage the Sr. Service told me they could not do anything more and it was Comcasts fault.  I am switching back to my old carrier. It is going to take me about more 2 weeks of Vontage till my phone number gets ported back.

    I still think the idea of VOIP is good, but there are still too many problems.  

  21. Andy-Pennell says:

    Wow, this post has turned into a bitch-about-Vonaga post. So much so that I am going to disable further comments on it. I will conclude with this:

    1. We still love Vonage
    2. If you have no electricity, then you will have no phone. e.g. much of this area last week, so having a cellphone and/or a minimal land line is a handy backup

    3. Re #2 Comcast appears to be a poor choice for your VOIP: I know of several friends who got power back, but didn’t have a working Comcast connection. They were not happy.

    This concludes my Vonage posting. As always, Your Mileage May Vary. Happy New Year!

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