3.05.2007

follow-ups

It occurred to me that I should follow up on my posts about my problems with Zip.ca and Vonage. Since I publicly complained about both companies, I should also make their responses public.

After life settled down a bit, after moving and bringing Tala home, I printed both blog posts, wrote a cover letter updating the situation, and mailed them - paper mail is still the most effective way to file a complaint - to both companies. Here are the results.

First, Vonage. As I've said before, I love VoIP, and Vonage generally has been great. It's reliable, full of great little extras, with simplified flat-rate billing, at an extremely reasonable price. Everything you need is self-managed through the website, and very easy to use.

My issue was unusual - which in no way excuses the crazy runaround I endured, but does make it extremely unlikely that you'd encounter the same problems. In fact, unless you're trying to change from a US account to a Canadian account, you're guaranteed not to.

But indeed, I did have those problems, and they weren't minor.

So I mailed my cover letter and blog post to both the president of Vonage US and the president of Vonage Canada. A few days later, I received a long voicemail from the head of Vonage Canada's "executive response team". The message was a long apology, with assurances that the company took my complaint very seriously (he said my letter had been copied and forwarded to every department!), and that they were taking steps to ensure nothing like this ever happens again. Apparently my request wasn't that difficult after all, and could have been easily accommodated.

He went on for quite some time, and also tried to reach me the next day. I finally left him a return voicemail, so that he would stop calling. I don't feel the need to talk about it, and would rather not spend the time on the phone. But I do appreciate that he was trying to contact me.

Finally, he credited our account with two months worth of free service. Considering the extent of the problem and how many times he apologized, I actually thought two months was inadequate. But I'm glad I successfully lodged my complaint, and I'm glad the company paid attention. Now my service is back to normal, and all is well.

Zip.ca was not as simple, but then, it was a different kind of issue.

First customer service repeatedly told me that the problem wasn't happening, even going so far as to try to prove that it wasn't (although they couldn't actually do that). After getting no satisfaction from their customer service drones, I asked how I could contact the head of customer service. They refused to give me an email address, and said that "Zip.ca does not accept complaints through the postal mail". (So what, if they get a letter, they send it back?) They insisted that the only way to contact the company is through the web-based complaint form. That's impossible, of course.

After much wrangling, I obtained a paper mailing address. I also gave in and did what they suggested: I put the manager's name in the subject line of the complaint form.

The customer service manager responded promptly. She apologized for the service not being everything I wanted it to be, and explained from Zip's perspective why Zip cannot meet Netflix's standards. And, true to Zip form, she suggested that I am part of the problem: "As mentioned, we are addressing this concern from our end, but request that you assist us and yourself in maximizing the value of this service."

In general, she took the correct approach: she apologized, thanked me, explained the issue from the company's perspective, and was honest about the possible outcomes. Idealistic Pragmatist, who has complained to Zip about the same issue, noted that it was the first time Zip actually admitted that their service was less than ideal. That's something. However, I felt that the crux of their response was to ask me to lower my expectations.

So, to recap.

I recommend Vonage without reservations. I still love them. If you have a high-speed internet connection and use a home phone, Vonage is great.

[You know what, I shouldn't say I recommend Vonage without reservations. Their service is excellent. But if you do have problems, they're not the best at resolving them. For me, that has only happened twice in seven years, and both times I was asking for something a little out of the ordinary. But I should be completely honest, so that's my one caveat.]

If you see a lot of movies, I'd recommend Zip, with reservations. It's best if you don't particularly care in what order you see your choice of movies. They're not as good as Netflix, but they're alright.

5 comments:

redsock said...

However, I felt that the crux of their response was to ask me to lower my expectations.

And yet you were expecting only what Zip had promised to their customers.

So if Zip is requesting you lower your expectations, what they are really saying is:

"We'll promise you things and charge you for them, but don't expect us to actually provide those services. But we'll keep charging you anyway. Good day!"

Katrinka Bobinka said...

I don't think I can tell the tale as well as you did, but I have my own Vonage horror story now. I have spent the better part of a week (including between 3 & 4 hours of cellular airtime while on the phone with "tech support.")

We have the 2nd of two Vonage devices (yes, a trip to the potal outlet was required) connected as of an hour ago because I finally went all Medusa on them and got kicked up to 3rd level tech support in order to find someone with enough Mac savvy to help me get it connected. I lost track of how many inept people I spoke to (most of whom had no more than a passing familiarity with the English language.) I lost track of how many times I repeated the same steps over and over, each person apparently expecting a miracle (think "definition of insanity" here.)
I hope the service is better than their customer support!

I've never been good at the complaint letter, but perhaps I will follow your good example and try to draft a one. Should I do it now while I'm still steamed?!

L-girl said...

Ugh, Katrinka, my sympathies. I know just what you're going through, including the hours of expensive cell phone time trying to get the damn thing to work.

If it's any consolation - if my own experience is any guide - once you're set up, it will be smooth sailing. You won't have any problems. (I hope!!!)

I do think writing a letter is a great idea if you can find the time. Companies should know what their customers go through! You might get a month's free service for your trouble.

I like to wait til I've cooled off to write. While I'm in the middle of the problem, writing a letter seems like another burden or inconvenience. I put it on my to-do list for another time.

BUT... if waiting will decrease your likelihood of writing, then by all means do it now!

Good luck. Let me know if there's anything I can do to help, like give you an address or something like that. Just email me if you need.

Katrinka Bobinka said...

Hi L-Girl,
Sorry to keep going back to this post but this issue continues to be the burr under my saddle. I'm not at all satisfied with the with the service so far but I'm not yet up for the fight of switching back. I'm trying to be optimistic--maybe if I ignore it (or lower my expectations) it'll get better. Meanwhile, could you email me the address for Vonage.ca? I found a press release indicating a guy named Bill Rainey is President and a Darrin Lamont is VP pf sales & customer operations. Is that the info you have?

Thanks for taking the time.

L-girl said...

Katrinka, no problem, I'll be happy to give you the info. Email me at the address on this blog: movetocanada@gmail.com.

I'm sorry you've been having such problems with Vonage! What a pain.