Thursday, June 22, 2006

Consumer VoIP Woes

This story plus the USF charges should really help the PSTN. This is a cautionary tale:
  • Not only did 8x8 keep Stodghill on hold for an inordinate amount of time, she says, but its customer service staff was condescending and rude. In the end, she demanded her old telephone number back and a refund.
  • She was told that her phone number could not be returned, and she is still waiting to receive the refund. So she filed a complaint against 8x8 with the Better Business Bureau (BBB).
  • With just 113,000 customers nationwide, 8x8 has racked up 112 complaints in the past year with the BBB of Santa Clara, California, where 8x8 is based. In response to those complaints, the BBB rated the company as having an "unsatisfactory business performance record."
  • But other VoIP firms have poor records with the BBB, too. The BBB says it has collected 1088 complaints against Vonage (which operates the largest Net phone service, with 1.6 million customers in the United States and Canada) in the past 12 months.
  • During the same time period, Verizon fielded 1039 complaints filed against its landline service--though it manages 48.8 million phone lines nationwide.
  • Another VoIP provider, BroadVoice, is the eighth-most-complained-about company in eastern Massachusetts, Maine, and Vermont, according to the BBB office serving those areas.
  • Some of the VoIP industry's problems stem from the way that it markets the technology, says Amanda Sabia, analyst with Gartner Research. Too often, she says, Internet phone service is touted as a simple alternative to traditional phones, and many consumers don't fully understand the technical issues and trade-offs involved in replacing their landlines with Net phones.
  • In another PC World story: VoIP Firms Don't Answer FCC's 911 Call
  • Six months after the rule went into effect, half of the 200 US VoIP providers that submitted compliance letters to the FCC stated that they offered E911 service to 90 percent or more of their existing customer bases. But many Net phone companies appear not to be abiding by the FCC rules, by continuing to market and sell service without E911 support. And finding Net phone companies that offer FCC-compliant E911 service can be more difficult than cracking the Da Vinci code.

No comments: