Subject: The Philosophy of Cancelling an Extra Line
Date: June 12, 2006 8:41:23 PM EDT
Hey, what’s up?
I have a question for you. This is sort of just a curiosity thing. I’m curious about Vonage’s thinking on customer service. I often write about consumer issues, so, that’s why I’m curious.
I signed up for your service the other day, and I’m really happy with it so far. The sound is good, the install was super-easy, etc. I’m really pleased.
But when I was signing up they asked me if I wanted a free trial of an additional phone line. My understanding was, you know, I could check it out for a month or whatever, and if I wanted to keep it, I would have to pay for it. Maybe my wife could use that line for her business, or I could use it for a fax machine, etc. etc.
But once I got set up, I realized right away: I don’t need or want that other line. And it’s another $25 a month, so, I may as well just get rid of that, just opt out now, before I forget.
I feel like I more or less know what I’m doing when it comes to navigating a web site, but after about 15 minutes I reazlied that there was no quick and easy way — actually, there simply was NO way — to get rid of that number through your site.
I was pretty surprised!
You guys seem pretty, you know, tech-focused and all.
Anyway, after searching through your help center, I found a couple of entries (“How do I remove a line from my account?” and “How do I cancel/remove a line or account?”) both of which said I had to call a phone number.
I called the number, and the voice mail tree said unless I was ordering more services, there was actually this different number I needed to call. I finally got to the right number, I guess — and I got put on hold for “an estimated 25 minute” wait!
The robot operator thingy kept coming on with basic instructions like, “Hey if you’re having a a problem, maybe you should restart your modem,” or whatever — so I guess in general this is the line for every stupid problem in the world. Odd that this would be the number I’d have to call to get this “free trial” brought to a swift conclusion.
So here’s my question.
Is the idea that you’re COUNTING ON people just giving up, and saying, “Okay, I’ll pay for the extra line”? Or that you’re counting on people being so stupid that they won’t notice the extra $25 being charged to their credit card?
Because that seems like a bad strategy to me. You’re kind of going out of your way, as a brand, to court the “savvy” consumer who is sick of “the phone company,” and the phone company’s bad costumer service and so on. So, given that fact, why would you not just make it easy for me to cancel this additional line with a few clicks.
People would SO respect you for doing that. You have no idea.
Take me for example. Mere hours ago, I was all jazzed up to tell everybody, “Hey, yeah, I really stuck it to my phone company, I got Vonage! It rocks!” Blah blah blah. But now, you know, forget it. Who wants to talk about their phone service anyway? I mean who cares? Yeah, yeah, Vonage is better than the company I was using — but not THAT much better.
Maybe I’m wrong though, in the sense that Vonage makes more money squeezing the slothful and confused out of that extra $25, than they would by making it easy for everybody to cancel an unwanted line. Which is really worth more, the “positive word of mouth,” or $25 a month cash dollars?
I honestly don’t know. A lot of people say the positive word of mouth would be better in the long run. But I think the truth is perhaps more ambiguous than that. After all, I’ve pretty much made up my mind that I’m going to post this entire email, which makes your company look bad, on the Web. On other other hand, once I get this extra line removed, I’m not going to cancel my service, I’m going to stick with Vonage for my main phone line, because basically my previous “traditional” phone service provider was even worse.
So on the one hand I’m annoyed with you. On the other hand, I’m going to keep giving you money. So, maybe you’re doing the right thing after all, for your business, I mean.
What do you think?
I wrote this up while on hold, waiting to cancel this line that I don’t want.
Do you know how long I”ve been on hold?
FIFTY EIGHT MINUTES
I got an immediate reply to the above. It went like this:
Oh well. I was asking an honest question. I’d love to know the answer.