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Are You In TeleVone Hell?
I'm not hearing good things from friends of mine who switched to Vonage. One just sent me an e-mail saying she has "a new number for two weeks only." Why? Because, after spending "about 11 hours" (like the guy in the article by Shawn Young and Li Yuan in The Wall Street Journal) on the phone with Vonage customer service, that's still how long it will take to transfer her phone line back to her old land-line phone company. Transferring her mental health back to what it was will, apparently, take much, much longer.

Posted by aalkon at May 20, 2006 10:24 AM

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Vonage took me a little while to get set up, but once I got through to the tech support it was up and running within ten minutes. It just requires you to know a little bit about networking, something that you ought to know anyway if you're using the Internet.

Posted by: MikeT at May 20, 2006 10:53 AM

Major problems with Vonage. The quality is terrible, consumer grade... think of the lowest bitrate MP3 you've ever heard. Now imagine talking all day through such a filter. That's Vonage. May their IPO sink.

Posted by: sven at May 20, 2006 10:55 AM

Conflicting reviews are better than no reviews.

Anybody have feelings about skype?

Posted by: Crid at May 20, 2006 4:49 PM

Vonage sound quality may vary, but with good broadband it's as good as or better than wired telephones.

And getting a telephone number transferred between any two telephone companies generally takes four to six weeks; if Vonage releases a number in just two weeks, that's expedited service.

Posted by: Gary Imhoff at May 20, 2006 6:21 PM

I've been using Vonage for a couple months and haven't had any problems. I was paying Bellsouth twice what I pay for Vonage and that was for local service only with no long distance. Sell your Bellsouth and buy Vonage.

Posted by: Jim at May 20, 2006 8:29 PM

My wife and I switched to ATT CallVantage internet phone 8 months ago and it works fine. I really like that any voicemail messages are sent as audio files to our email accts. Much handier than regular voice mail or answering machine. Being able to customize acct setting online is nice too. Save about $60 per month over our previous combined cable, phone and internet acct. bills from before when we had dialup and 2 phone lines to now with cable internet for everything and a pay-as-you go cell phone as a backup.

Posted by: Geoff at May 20, 2006 10:09 PM

My friend said pretty much what Sven did. She's on the phone all day for business, and was in utter hell.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at May 21, 2006 7:32 AM

I've heard mixed things about Vonage, but all the complaints I've heard are nearly identical to your friends'. I have Lingo VOIP phone service, and I'm pretty happy w/them; they're cheaper than Vonage, and you can call all of Western Europe for free, too! Whenever I've had to deal w/their customer service reps, (I had some self-inflicted cross-wire issues during setup,) they've been pretty friendly and nice. Like anything else, I guess it depends on the company.

Posted by: Kim at May 21, 2006 12:51 PM

>> Anybody have feelings about skype?

For an expat with daughters back in Europe, skype is wonderful. I tried one of the very early experimental VoIP services and it was awful. skype is fine -- only about one call in 20 has the echo/delay problem to Europe.

As a promotion, skype is currently offering FREE skype-out calls to ANY US PHONE, until end of 2006. What's not to like?

(To those who don't know about skype, it's a free piece of software that offers totally free voice and/or text chat to any other skype user anywhere in the world. Connection to an ordinary phone line -- skype-out -- is not normally free, just cheap).

Posted by: Stu "El Inglés" Harris at May 22, 2006 8:20 AM

Friends of mine use Skype like mad. You need a special headset if you're on a Mac, so I never use it. Also, we experienced some echo when Gregg called my cell in Paris, rendering it not that useful for me. I use phone cards, which are relatively cheap, and 1016868 in the USA to call France. Still, Skype doesn't require you to change your phone setup...just is if it works, little downside.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at May 22, 2006 10:23 AM

We've had Vonage for a couple of years, with very few problems in either sound or customer service. I suppose performance might vary with quality of broadband connection, though.

The only major problem we had was the fault of our roommate, who was literally sucking up all the bandwidth via a Torrent download.

One thing that I really LOVE about Vonage is that they keep their customers' numbers unpublished by default. Unless they hear otherwise from you, they assume you want your number kept private. When we were with a regular phone company, we had to pay monthly for that!

Posted by: Karen at May 22, 2006 1:11 PM

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