I was a pretty early subscriber to VOIP technology - because I'm a real cheapie! I used to have AT&T CallVantage. I think I paid $20 per month plus taxes plus long distance, and my bills ranged from about $24 to $30 a month in total. As I said, I'm a real cheapie, so I decided to switch to Vonage. Now I pay $15 a month plus tax (which ends up just being a few dollars, since you don't pay all the standard telephone taxes) for everything I need. (The $15 package includes up to 500 anytime/anywhere minutes, while the $25 package you seem to be mentioning is unlimited; I figure there's no way I'll ever need to talk on the phone more than 8 hours each month!) So now I've tried both AT&T CallVantage and Vonage, and I would wholeheartedly recommend AT&T and wholeheartedly discourage Vonage. Here's why . . .
AT&T. I never had a single problem. One feature I like is that you can sign up to have an email sent to you when a voice message arrives in your phone; the message can also be attached to the email. Everything worked flawlessly; that's about the only comment I can make.
Vonage. I have had nothing BUT problems. I've spent hours and hours and hours emailing and talking (or waiting on hold, as it were) with Vonage customer service reps, most of whom seemed like David Spade in that credit card commercial, where he just wants to say "NO" to the customer. Most didn't have a clue how to help me, and I resent how much time it took to fix this problem - which turned out to be a fix that needed to be made from their end. I continue to have problems. Here are the problems I've had:
- Hooking up the Vonage router box caused my internet connection to zap in and out. I'm reasonably good with computers, did all the reasonable troubleshoots, etc; the fix ended up being a programming-type glitch on the Vonage end. This problem is now fixed.
- I missed quite a few calls. Callers told me that my number would simply hang up on them, or that it would ring interminably. This, for the most part, has been fixed.
- I continue, however, to have a problem receiving calls from certain phones. I realized this when a former colleague called me and told me she thought I'd changed my number to avoid calls. She had tried to call me using the local seven-digit number and received a message saying that my number is "unallocated." On a whim, she tried again, using the seven-digit number plus area code, and got through successfully. It makes me wonder how many people have had this problem. Vonage has not yet even responded to my message from two days ago asking for help with this continuing problem.
- It is nearly impossible to get someone to respond to you on the telephone help line.
- Email help response often takes days
- My Vonage router box also, for some reason, seems to pick up the local Oldies 104.1 radio station. I prefer to work without Motown in the background, and so I (again) emailed Vonage for help (since it's impossible to get real help on the phone). They basically sent me a sassy reply saying that, "Well, sometimes that happens. There's probably a radio tower nearby. Too bad for you." There may possibly be a nearby radio tower, but I will note that (a) I have never seen one; and (2) my AT&T router box did not give me this problem.
- The router box has an irritatingly bright blinking light, which I've taken to covering with a towel. This probably isn't a reason to enroll in or avoid Vonage, but, to me, combined with all the other problems, it's "another" disadvantage.
- I can still get a message emailed to me when a voice mail message arrives, but there are two shortfalls in this service: First, it can take up to several hours to arrive via email, which, to me, kind of defeats the purpose (AT&T emails came immediately); and second, it doesn't tell you from whom the call came (the AT&T emails did).
So, my advice: Pay a few extra bucks for AT&T and STAY AWAY FROM VONAGE . . . or you might, like, me, regret it . . .
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