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January 20, 2006

Vonage Out(r)age

[update: the problem was cleared up by the next morning.  I didn't wait up so don't know how long it took and there was no communication from Vonage on the forum or elsewhere I;ve seen acknowledging either the actual symptoms or the extent of the problem.  Glad that VM is working but think that Vonage ought to be proactively communicating with its customers about this kind of outage - even after the fact - so that we will know thatpeople may have tried to call us and not have been able to leave messages.]

For at least the last several hours in many if not all parts of its service area, Vonage voice mail is out of service.  Vonage customers from New York City, Northern New Jersey, Florida, Massachusetts, and Michigan have reported the same problem on the Vonage forum. Inbound calls drop at the time that they should go to voice mail.  No robot answers.  Nothing.

I called Vonage support several hours ago when I suspected the problem and made a test call to myself to confirm.  Hold time only fifteen minutes,  Rep told me that the problem is known.  I said that it was not posted on the Vonage site where service problems are supposed to be posted.  She said it was.  I read her what IS posted there:

"At this time customers may experience an issue retrieving their voicemail when dialing local access number or *123. Our engineers are aware of the issues and are working to resolve it as soon as possible. We apologize for any inconvenience and thank you for your patience."

I asked for a supervisor.  No dice.  She apologized for my inconvenience.  I demanded again that the problem be posted.  She said “we may consider this as a future enhancement” or something close to that.  Maybe she lost her place in the script.  I hung up.

But I posted on the Vonage Forum.  Many others then posted their symptoms and location.  Since I started writing this, Illinois just popped up.  Vonage support monitors and sometimes posts on the forum.  They have not yet commented on this nor has an accurate message gone up.

Outages are bad but they happen.  Responsible vendors tell the truth about them as quickly as they can.  A user who knows that voice mail isn’t going to be answered can forward calls if she is going to be away or try to be sure someone is available to answer the phone.  Mary doesn’t know whether or not to be mad at a couple of people who don’t appear to have returned her calls today.  Users who don’t know there’s an outage can’t take steps to protect themselves from the consequences.

Not reporting an outage promptly and accurately turns it into an outrage.  This isn’t about technology; it’s about customer service and responsibility.

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