Customer Service & Experiential Branding – Vonage Loses me to Ooma

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One can easily make a case that customer service should be owned by marketing. Billions of dollars in marketing budget are deployed to get the message out there regarding the superiority of one product, service or platform over another.

Great technology and features alone can’t make up for a poor customer service experience.

I decided this weekend to terminate my two-line Vonage account and move it to Ooma (discount offer affiliate link if you want it), not because Ooma was cheaper (it is), but due to a breakdown in the customer service machine at Vonage.

I’ve been a Vonage customer for a long time, with my company Didit using Vonage (Didit is fairly happy as a business customer), as well as using it for a personal and a personal/business hybrid account (my wife’s). One of my accounts had two numbers in it and I hadn’t been using those numbers since a recent move out of a vacation home.  We lost the adapter during the move, but kept paying Vonage because the idea was to find the adapters and plug back in since we only needed the numbers for inbound voicemail, which was still working (even without the adapter). The fees on the two lines have been about $45 a month for over 8 years. That’s $4,320+.

Last week I looked for the adapters and no-luck. Lost in the move.  So I bought a used two-line Vonage adapter from eBay, and tried to turn it on. Vonage refused, saying the account it was assigned to was disconnected (I had successfully enabled a used adapter before, so that made no sense), but alas…  (see below for a snip of the transcript)

Anyway the first rep agreed to send me a new adapter for my two-line account.

But the next day I log in to see the order status and they have shipped it to the old address, despite me telling the rep to NOT ship it there. (see transcript).

So, I start a new chat with another rep who also agrees to send a second adapter, this time to my correct address.

Today the adapter arrives and it’s a one-line adapter. ARGH! I’ve spent all the time with the reps who seem helpful but apparently can’t think through that a two-line account needs a two-line adapter. I don’t want a HT801, I want an HT802. And BTW, whose idea is it to EVER send out a one-line residential adapter when sending a 2-line adapter — which probably costs $2 more to manufacture — is a GREAT way to market to existing customers a 2nd line offer that doesn’t require any new adapter. Also simplifies fulfillment. Come on people!  A long term 2-line customer is worth THOUSANDS!

So, after that experience, I started the process of porting both lines to Ooma (I already have one residential line on Ooma, and am generally pleased).

In this pic, I’ve got a useless eBay-purchased Vonage adapter (seller was kind enough to refund), a brand new one-line adapter from Vonage (ARGH, won’t even bother using), and the Ooma adapter (which I’ll be getting another one of next week which, automatically takes up to two lines with their upgraded service).

Chats for your entertainment.

Robin.R (8/9/2019, 12:39:21 AM): May I have the MAC address of the Vonage adapter? It is located at the bottom of the Vonage adapter. It is a combination of 12 letters and alphabets. Please do provide once you have located it.
Me (8/9/2019, 12:40:01 AM): the adapter I have has the mac address 906ebb3c52f7
Robin.R (8/9/2019, 12:40:04 AM): May I know from where you bought this adapter?
Me (8/9/2019, 12:40:13 AM): ebay
Robin.R (8/9/2019, 12:40:59 AM): I am really sorry, we do not support any other provider adapter with Vonage.
Me (8/9/2019, 12:41:21 AM): It is a Vonage adapter. used. 
Robin.R (8/9/2019, 12:41:26 AM): The adapters we are sending are assigned with your name.
Robin.R (8/9/2019, 12:41:40 AM): I really understand your concern.
Robin.R (8/9/2019, 12:42:36 AM): I checked this mac ID and this mac ID is assigned with the disconnected account.
Robin.R (8/9/2019, 12:42:56 AM): I am really sorry, I am not able to assign this adapter to you.
Me (8/9/2019, 12:43:05 AM): I used to have 5 lines, 2 in my wife’s name. When she didn’t need those adapters, I had used them for my account. It is possible for you to activate a disconnected adapter under my name? I’ve done it before. 
Robin.R (8/9/2019, 12:43:47 AM): Sure, could you please help me with the mac ID you want to add on your account.
Me (8/9/2019, 12:44:03 AM): I just gave it to you.
Robin.R (8/9/2019, 12:44:56 AM): I am really sorry, I am not able to assign this adapter to you.
Robin.R (8/9/2019, 12:45:03 AM): I checked this mac ID and this mac ID is assigned with the disconnected account.
Me (8/9/2019, 12:45:31 AM): I’ve assigned disconnected accounts to new numbers before. Please check with your supervisor
Me (8/9/2019, 12:45:44 AM): You are about to lose a customer to Ooma.

edited to remove my account pin and superfluous info:

Robin.R (8/9/2019, 12:57:05 AM): May I know your name, please.
Me (8/9/2019, 12:57:14 AM): Kevin Lee
Robin.R (8/9/2019, 12:57:28 AM): Kevin, I am sending you new device free of cost.
Me (8/9/2019, 12:57:32 AM): Address on the account is old, but I’m logged in and can update that.
Me (8/9/2019, 12:57:51 AM): Actually just looked, the billing address is correct.
Robin.R (8/9/2019, 12:57:57 AM): After that I will also check cheaper promotional plans for you.
Robin.R (8/9/2019, 12:58:13 AM): Sure.
Robin.R (8/9/2019, 12:58:25 AM): Could you please help me with your shipping address.
Me (8/9/2019, 12:58:44 AM): 6 Donellan Rd, Scarsdale, NY 10583… same as billing
Robin.R (8/9/2019, 12:59:12 AM): Thank you for the needful information.

Then the next chat:

Paul P. (8/9/2019, 9:33:58 AM): I apologize for the inconvenience. However, I could update the new address for you, 
Paul P. (8/9/2019, 9:34:14 AM): And I could send a new device to the new address, 
Me (8/9/2019, 9:34:19 AM): I changed it in the web interface after the fact.
Me (8/9/2019, 9:34:31 AM): It is now correct in the account.
Paul P. (8/9/2019, 9:34:59 AM): Sounds good!
Paul P. (8/9/2019, 9:35:03 AM): let me check the new address, 

Paul P. (8/9/2019, 9:36:59 AM): Thank you for verifying the account.
Paul P. (8/9/2019, 9:37:16 AM): 6 Donellan Rd, Scarsdale, NY 10583
Paul P. (8/9/2019, 9:37:28 AM): Is it the right one ?
Me (8/9/2019, 9:37:44 AM): Yes, right one. was last night too 😉
Paul P. (8/9/2019, 9:38:13 AM): Thank you for the confirmation. and I am sorry for wasting your time
Paul P. (8/9/2019, 9:38:26 AM): I will ship a new device to the new address now
Me (8/9/2019, 9:38:36 AM): thanks