A Review of Vonage Internet Phone Service

Vonage is perhaps one of the most highly advertised voice-over internet phone services available. Voice-over internet phones, or VoIP, have become increasingly popular as more and more consumers switch to broadband internet. The phone line runs through the internet instead of the phone line. Vonage is one of the least expensive options available today. The starting price for Vonage service is $14.99 a month. For this price the customer gets 500 minutes to call anywhere in the US and Canada. The Premium Unlimited is perhaps their most popular service, and offers unlimited calls to anywhere in the US. The price for the Premium Unlimited package is $24.99 a month and currently the first month is free. Both packages include voicemail, caller ID, call waiting, three-way calling, and call forwarding. Vonage also offers packages for small businesses that includes a dedicated fax line at no extra cost.

The process of being set up with an internet phone service is to purchase a router that is compatible with your service. On Vonage’s website they offer two routers that are free after rebate. Which router you need depends on your home network set up. Any phone can be connected to the router, but in order to use the caller ID feature, the phone will need to have caller ID capabilities.

For the most part, Vonage offers clear, crisp calls. However, periodically the calls have a slight echo that is only heard on the Vonage customer’s end. In the beginning of their service there were times when the service did not connect. The Vonage customer could hear the caller on the other end, but the caller could not hear them, but this problem appears to have been handled.

Vonage customer service is certainly where they are lacking. As a Vonage customer, I have needed support from the Vonage customer service department on two occasions. I found that both times I called customer service I waited around thirty minutes before I was able to talk to a customer service representative. When I did talk to them, they were less than helpful. They simply walked me through the process of resetting the system, which I explained I had already tried. At that point they said there was nothing they could do. Others have expressed similar experiences on sites such as reviews.cnet.com. One customer was on the phone with tech support for 5 �½ hours before the call was dropped. E-mail support is no better. I sent an e-mail to Vonage with a support question and did not hear back from them for six weeks for a non-automated response.

In Vonage’s Terms of Service, they state that in the first year of service, there is a $39.99 disconnect charge. This information is not easy to find, and many customers feel cheated when they try to disconnect their service. Other than this disconnect charge, Vonage does not hit their customers with hidden charges and fees.

One of the benefits of Vonage internet phone service is the ability to call to any place in the United States, Canada, and many European countries at a very low cost. If you can put up with the poor customer service, this can be a great benefit. Another positive feature of Vonage is its relative ease of installation. The instructions included with the router are easy to understand, and the phone service can be established within minutes. As with most VoIP services, 911 dialing is a little bit tricky to set up, but certainly not impossible.

So here is a summary of the benefits and drawbacks of Vonage internet phone service.

Benefits:

�· Inexpensive international and local calling
�· Many services included in the package
�· Ease of installation

Drawbacks:

�· Poor customer service
�· Sporadic echo on line
�· Periodically dropped calls

Vonage offers VoIP service at a low cost. However, their customer service department is lacking. Customers who suffer from few technical difficulties will find this a good product. However, when a customer needs to contact customer support, they may not get the type of support they want. By keeping these things in mind, you will be able to make an informed decision about the Vonage internet phone service.

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