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Publisher's Outlook
July 2004


Rich Tehrani

Why I'm Switching  From Vonage Back to AT&T

BY RICH TEHRANI


I am a Vonage DigitalVoice user. I am switching to CallVantage, AT&T�s VoIP service. First off, how oxymoronic is that? AT&T VoIP. These are terms that didn�t used to share each other�s company. You know, like Microsoft open source initiative, ethical lobbyist, or moderate gas price hike. So why am I switching you ask? It�s simple. I�m switching because I can�t get my home number to port after trying for the past five months while paying two phone bills! I signed up officially with the service on December 28, 2003. Rather than just tell you, dear reader, about my experience, I thought it insightful to share some written correspondence between Vonage and myself so you in turn can share in the experience for yourself.

 

Here is a letter I received on December 30th 2003. I marveled in amazement at how automated and efficient this company must be� Keeping me posted via e-mail:

 

Dear Richard,
Thank you for your Letter of Authorization to transfer your existing phone number to Vonage DigitalVoice service.We are now working with your telephone carrier to complete the transfer process. Please note that your transfer may take at least 15�20 business days from the date above. Please keep in mind that Vonage will process your request as quickly as possible. Please be on the lookout for our next e-mail notification that will state the scheduled processing date of your number transfer.

Sincerely,
Vonage LNP


Here is another e-mail that came on February 12th. This may have been in response to me calling and asking what was happening. I don�t really recall:

 

Hello,
Thank you for your interest in Vonage DigitalVoice.
Per your request we are processing the transfer of your current phone number to use with our service in place of your temporary Vonage phone number. This change is set to occur 2-20-04. We will advise you when the porting has been completed. At that time your temporary Vonage number will be disabled, so please do check any voicemail messages you have remaining before the change takes place.
Thank you for your attention in this matter.

Sincerely,
Lauren
Vonage LNP Department
numbertransfer@vonage.com
1-866-496-6359


Here is an e-mail I sent on February 27th:

 

Hello,
1) When will this transfer take place? I called today and asked but was disconnected.
2) See that my temporary number has been frequently called yet I haven�t given this # out? Is this an error?
Thank You

 

Here is the response on the next day (notice that they don�t sign the e-mail with a person�s name anymore):

 

Dear Customer,
I am contacting you in regards to your number transfer.
Unfortunately all tentative transfer dates are subject to change and is not necessarily the date your transfer takes place. Please allow us to contact the carrier to find the final transfer date. As soon as we obtain a finalized transfer date we will contact you immediately.
Thank you for your patience in this matter.


Sincerely,
Vonage LNP


Here is an e-mail I sent on March 16th. I Cc�ed Mitchell Slepian in the public relations department:
 

Hello,
Any news on when this transfer will actually take place? Thanks!
Rich

 

Here is the response on the next day:

 

I am contacting you to inform you of your number transfer. I have requested a status from Vonage�s carrier that is handling your request. As soon as we obtain a finalized transfer date we will contact you immediately. Thank you for your patience in this matter.
Sincerely,
Vonage LNP

 

Here is another e-mail sent to me on March 26th:

 

I am contacting you to inform you of your number transfer. I have requested a status from Vonage�s carrier that is handling your request. As soon as we obtain a finalized transfer date we will contact you immediately. Thank you for your patience in this matter.
Sincerely,
Vonage LNP

 

I ran into Vonage�s Brooke Schultz at an industry event on March 29th. I told her about my situation and that I wanted to write an article on Local Number Portability. She mentioned in passing that Mitchell worked for her. I was pretty happy that I met someone who I assumed would resolve this problem. I told her that if there are any broader LNP issues then I want to expose them. I assumed that the problem was caused by SBC.

 

Here is an e-mail I wrote on April 8 to Brooke:

From: Rich Tehrani
Sent: Thursday, April 08, 2004 12:03 PM
To: �brooke.schulz@vonage.com�
Subject: Great seeing you in CA recently
Importance: High

Brooke, it was nice seeing you a while back.
I wanted to ask a few questions.
1) I am interested in writing about LNP. I have been a customer for about four months and my number never seems to port. I would love details of what is happening. I am customer # 100205XXXX.
2) I am currently (deadline is in a few hours) writing about the lawsuit with AT&T. Can you provide more details than this article? (http://www.tmcnet.com/usubmit/2004/Mar/ 1027714.htm)

This came back the same day:

 

Rich �
I am looking into your port.
With regard to the AT&T suit, I can�t really tell you anything more than what is in the story.
Thanks
Brooke

 

So I sent this just a few weeks later, on April 24th:

 

Hi Brooke,
Hope all is well. I keep getting new bills but my number doesn�t port.
Can you please help?
I do want to write about this but am not sure what to write other than my number isn�t porting.
Thanks!

 

I didn�t hear back so here is an e-mail I sent on May 18th. I attached the rest of the e-mail chain:

 

Hey Brooke,
Can you please help with this? Thanks!

 

So my frustration is that not only does my number not port, but no one will tell me why. At this point I would settle for anything. The dog ate your paperwork; we left your file at home. You get the point. I can�t for the life of me understand how the company doesn�t respond to me. I don�t think I have an ego issue, but I am the founder and publisher of � and a writer for � a magazine called INTERNET TELEPHONY� and last I checked this had something to do with what Vonage does. You would think I should somehow get answers to very important questions like these. Oh yes, and on top of that I am a paying customer.


Perhaps this situation isn't Vonage�s fault. But then again, a simple phone call to tell me what is happening would be appreciated. A response to my e-mail (any of them) would be great as well. Some rudimentary research online shows others waiting 60�90 days for their numbers to port to Vonage from various carriers. I did some searches on Vonage�s site for LNP issues and couldn�t find anything useful. I assume Brooke Schulz would have let me know if the problem was not Vonage�s fault. I would suppose that would be her job.


If I can�t get service or answers and I know the top people in public relations (and management by the way), what will you get?


If the FCC is reading, Mr. Powell, how about a rule that gives carriers 10 business days to port? The potential for abuse otherwise is immense. Worse yet, I don�t even know what will happen if I try to port my number to yet another provider while my number is theoretically porting already. What happens in this case? I have a feeling I�ll be writing about it in the fall. Let�s start fining service providers that intentionally drag their feet. No industry should have barriers to competition, including telecom, and holding phone numbers hostage should be a crime.
I am going to give AT&T CallVantage a try because I have nothing to lose and their service is superior to Vonage from a feature standpoint. Keep reading and I�ll let you know how it goes.

 

[ Return To The July 2004 Table Of Contents ]



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