Opinion: Eat packets, VoIP boy

Who knew that using VoIP was so fraught with disaster? After I posted M. K.'s tale of VoIP woe on Monday, I received an outpouring of comments and e-mails from other TeleBlend sufferers. I've never seen so many Cringesters so p**sed off at a company whose name isn't Microsoft.

And it's not just TeleBlend. Packet8, Allo.com, and Comcast also get dinged by customers who can't get them to provide decent VoIP or customer service (or in Allo's case, any service at all -- like SunRocket, it too has kicked the bucket).

According to company spokesguy Brian Lustig, users should be grateful for the service TeleBlend provided in allowing them to transition their VoIP services for free after SunRocket crashed and burned. (Yes, he really said that.) He adds:

Because of legacy issues related to the manner in which SunRocket went down and the subsequent transition, there are a handful of customers with service impacted that we continue to work with. ...The vast majority of the 60,000+ customers that have signed up with TeleBlend experience reliable service, and for those that still have outstanding issues we are working with each of them to ensure a resolution. It goes without saying that for customers impacted, we appreciate their patience and will continue to work with them so that we can meet and exceed their expectations.

Lustig may be right. After going more than a week without the phone service they paid for, M. K. and C. B. say their TeleBlend connections appear to be working (for the moment, anyway).

But some TeleBlend customers aren't so lucky. S. H. reports his service is still down, 9 days after it first failed. And A. D. has this to say:

Another call to the service center today, after another 30-minute wait, produced the same answer. "Your service will be restored by the end of the day tomorrow." When questioned as to why tomorrow should be any different than the last three times I was told that....This company is an absolute loser. Try to open a trouble ticket for yourself. Report a problem via email. Try to talk to someone who actually knows something. I've never experienced anything like it.

To be fair, I did hear from one TeleBlend customer who has yet to experience any problems (he didn't identify himself as a former SunRocketeer, however). Other Cringesters had positive things to say about their BroadVoice, Lingo, and Vonage connections, despite a few glitches.

The larger points to be gleaned from all this? Those of use who grew up with one phone company got spoiled by the reliability and quality of its communications network (despite "customer service" so bad it became an oxymoron). Those of us trying to save a few bucks by piggy-backing voice services on the Internet are starting to get what we've paid for.

What's most interesting is that, as communications has stretched to reach virtually every nook and cranny on the globe, it's also gotten, well, kind of crappy. (Honestly, when's the last time you had a cell-to-cell conversation that wasn't laggy or at best marginally annoying?) The real question is, How much are we willing to put up with? In the case of second- and third-tier VoIP carriers, the answer is, Not much.

This story, "Opinion: Eat packets, VoIP boy" was originally published by InfoWorld.

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