Sunday, January 7, 2007

Technology I Am Not Ready For

Interesting.  I don't think this has ever happened to me.

My answering machine is dying, as is my phone.  (These things have happened before.  Indeed, they happen pretty darned regularly.)  So I started researching new phones or phone/answering machine combos.

Then I thought, "Hey, what about Vonage?"  You know, a VOIP provider, someone that routes phone calls over the internet (but you still use a normal phone, it's just plugged into your modem).  Hell, I think AOL even offers one.

I went to the Vonage website.  For about $15/month, you get 500 minutes of local and long distance calls, with reasonable rates for the overages.  Sounds good.

But, before I adopt new tech, I like reading some reviews.  So I went over to CNET and read some Vonage reviews.  And while CNET itself actually had nice things to say about Vonage, the sheer number of "If you value your sanity, stay the hell away" customer reviews was enough to give one pause.  Most people were complaining about lousy customer service and questionable billing practices.  And, indeed, "official" reviews of Vonage on various sites acknowledge that their customer service people have been a bit overwhelmed by the volume of customers, and that they're, y'know, working on the problem.  This, too, gives one pause.  Especially since recent customer reviews suggest the problem has not yet been fixed.

So, I started looking at other VOIP providers to find one with (a) good call quality; and (b) decent customer service.  Guess what.  They don't exist.  Honestly.  I'll find one where there's decent, even glowing, reviews of their customer service -- only to find that their call quality doesn't stand up in tests.  There are tons of VOIP providers out there now -- heck, even AT&T and Verizon have gotten in the game -- and there doesn't seem to be one that has its act together.

Indeed, I'd consider buying the one from my cable company -- on the theory that since they provide my internet connection, they'd only have themselves to blame when something goes wrong -- but they've only got a single calling plan, one that $30/month for unlimited calls.  And I don't make that many calls.  Indeed, I want to do this to save money, not raise my phone bill.  (And that's just an "introductory" rate -- it'll go up after three months.)

So ... no internet phone for me. 

Anyone know a good deal on a phone and answering machine?


lanurseprn said...

I can't advise you on this.  I got rid of my land line because of Verizon's billing practices.  They are bad!  Now I only use a cell phone.  And I don't talk on it much.
Hope you get it all sorted out.

hewasolddog299 said...

Probably a wise choice to hold off until you get settled in the new house, whenever THAT comes to fruition. Then, in addition to Vonage (call quality is highly dependant upon the interface with the local phone service provider, btw) give Skype a looksee.

I had a Sony answering machine that had more bells and whistles than Carter has pills; hated it. Had an old Panasonic straight answering machine that I loved; can't get it or anything like it anymore. And so it goes ... good luck!

tammyg22 said...

We use a regular phone and the voice mail service from our local phone company.  (D has a habit of killing off answering machines.)