Tuesday, October 09, 2007


We recently had a less than optimal experience with an internet phone service. Let's just call this company "Bonage" since that is certainly what it felt like overall. Bend over...

We used to use SunRocket, which, once we got it operating, worked great. Occasionally there would be delays in service, never lasting more than part of a day, which I was willing to tolerate given the extreme value pricing of about 17 dollars a month for the whole enchilada -- long distance, voicemail, caller ID, you name it. And the problems were always some server issue, and they were always ass-kissingly apologetic about it.

But suddenly SunRocket went out of business, and we were faced with having to get a new provider quick. A friend of ours had had good luck with Bonage so we went with them. Plus, they were having a special for former SunRocket customers. What could go wrong?

All went swimmingly for about two weeks, and then not so much. If you called us, we could hear you but you couldn't hear us. And this was maddeningly intermittent. Also, during a time that we were fielding many important calls. Gah! We went to their website and did all the things they suggested we do. Nothing helped. Then we moved on to contacting the "customer service" department via email. They repeatedly instructed us to do all the things on the website, that we had already done, and told us that the problem was on our side. They did not have suggestions as to what the problem might be other than maybe a bandwidth issue, which seemed unlikely given the ease with which I play World of Warcraft for (cough cough) at least a couple of hours a night. They did not answer direct questions.

They did send us a new device in case the original one had gotten overheated or was defective. We were required to send the original one back within a certain period of time or face a charge. We did so. It cost us ten bucks via the cheapest route. The new device did nothing to change the situation.

By now we are getting pretty bent. We have had to use our cellphones almost exclusively during this time and our cell plan, while perfectly adequate for our usual needs, is not unlimited. We will have hefty cell bills. And we're sick of all this hassle. Finally, we call and get the phone service offered by GiantCableConglomerateCast. This will be more expensive than effing Bonage, but at least we will have service that functions, plus digital cable with on-demand and faster cable internet than before. And, if anything goes wrong? Yeah, somebody comes to our house and fixes it.

We were told that we could not discontinue service with Bonage until the day of the new hookup -- today. My better half called to discontinue and it took 25 minutes. On the cell phone of course. They offered to transfer her to whatever they call the suck-up department no less than five times. Each time she had to say No. And! Here's the parting shot. Because we didn't stay with their crappy non-existent service for six months, they are charging us for the device. And for shipping. And a disconnection fee.

So all told, this little experiment cost us close to 120 dollars in fees (from today), ten dollars postage (old device return), and oh, it's hard to say how much in cell phone bills -- probably a couple hundred over our usual amount.

I kind of wish that Bonage sent out those "no postage necessary" postcards or envelopes like credit card companies do. I have heard that an unscrupulous person might enjoy putting them in the mail empty because once they enter the postal system, the company has to pay the postage on them no matter what might (or might not) be inside. That's just what I've heard. I'm just sayin'.

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