Tag Archives: deceptive

Says Vonage: Five Years Doesn’t Matter. Give Us All Your Money.

The following post is one we wrote almost two years ago (circa July 2009) but never published for whatever reason. We have since dropped Vonage–finally, after a long seven years as a customer–and thought now, about a month post-cancellation, would be a good time to go back over why we finally quit them.

In a nutshell, they didn’t–don’t–care about anything but the money. You may see this as a recurring theme around this blog; I’m not sure it’s possible to put too fine a point on that, either. Money is nice and all, but you can’t focus solely on that and expect to keep people (or your business) around forever.

About a month ago, I finally got around to calling at an hour when they were open to take my call to cancel–and attempt to keep me from cancelling.

I cancelled anyway; it just wasn’t worth it anymore. They became Yet Another Phone Company, leveraging fees for everything and generally behaving badly from a customer-service perspective. The whole reason we went to Vonage in the first place to get away from all of that with traditional telcos!

At some point a year or so ago, we switched from the $14.99 500-minute plan to a 100-minute plan for $9.99/month. That cheaper plan, with 40% fewer minutes, after all the fees they’re now adding, was costing us more than we paid for the $14.99 plan when we started with Vonage so many years ago. And we just weren’t using it. If you have Vonage, great. If you don’t, you’re really not missing anything Time-Warner or Comcast or AT&T or another traditional telco could offer you at this point.

We don’t miss Vonage. At all. At least what Vonage has become, anyway. The idea of Vonage–the core of their business model back then–is still appealing; we do miss that.

If you have and use Vonage, think about whether you’re really, truly using it. You may not need it anymore, either.

And finally, even though we dropped service with Vonage a month ago, we are still unable to access the website to make our final payment in good faith. We offered during our cancellation call, but were told we would continue to have access to the website to pay our final bill at our convenience. But clearly, that’s not quite true:

 [This was a screenshot of a regularly-broken
Vonage website before Twitpic shut down]

So professional.

Anyway, here’s the previously-unpublished post from 2009:


We recently tried to cancel, and failed. We called right away the morning of the first day of our new billing cycle; we had been billed at midnight overnight. After being strung along on the phone for a very long time, we were eventually told we would receive a credit for the billed-in-advance amount. Except, a short time later, our bumbling phone-center monkey handed our call off to someone else–a “supervisor”–who told us no, they were absolutely not going to do anything of the sort. Yes, certainly we could cancel today! And yes, they would gladly terminate our service immediately! But… they would be keeping our money for the rest of the billing period anyway–so sorry!

In the end, we opted not to cancel for the time being–we didn’t want to lose our money. Turns out that was stupid. We switched to a lesser, cheaper plan, and they issued a credit and a couple months of free service, only to end up coming up short on their promises and start billing us again a full month earlier than promised.

But first, back to the initial cancellation attempt and how we were treated. The fact that we’d been always-on-time, regular, loyal customers of theirs for a full five years prior? Well, it was utterly irrelevant to the a-hole “supervisor” we ended up talking to. He also insisted he could not–would not–transfer us to anyone else to discuss it further. We had our options: stay and pay, or leave…but still pay. Jerk.

Vonage does NOT want you to quit them. If you call to cancel–and indeed, you MUST call them to cancel, which is also completely ridiculous–expect to be hassled. They will NOT schedule your service disconnect to coincide with the last pre-paid day of service. They WILL, however, cancel your service immediately and keep whatever pre-paid amount of money you’ve given them. Even if you’re cancelling on the morning of the very first day of the billing cycle. They will not prorate any refund. They want it all. Inexcusable greed, pure and simple.

If you’ve got Vonage service, call them and attempt to cancel. You’ll see. And you’ll probably want to cancel for real after that. Quitting something has never been so difficult or fraught with sliminess.

Griping on Twitter got us somewhere. Shockingly. I was still treated like I was demanding some monumental favor, talked at like the guy was reeeeeeeally bending over backwards to do something Really Special for me. Like honor their promise to extend enough credit to cover not having a bill with them again until November? Nah, they hit us with a $20 bill in October. For a $9.99/month plan. Nuuuuh-uuuh.

So eventually the final day of our “deal” arrived. Except I didn’t call in by 7pm CST for a billing that doesn’t happen until midnight. Vonage only has open phone lines until 8pm Eastern time. I had called around 715–I was too late. That, to me, seems pretty evil and deliberate…or conveniently profit-inducing, depending on which side you’re on. So we’re screwed again for another month. All apparently by design.

Run away. As fast as you can. Eventually, we will be done with this.

Colder’s Math: “Voodoo Economics”

The holiday shopping season is upon us. Colder’s has at least one “new” promotion–or, rather, a new twist on their old trick–called

“Full Back ~PLUS~ $50 for Every $500 You Spend!”

In a nutshell, it’s the same full-back promotion they’ve always had… with some extra sizzle thrown on top, in case the old full-back/half-back parlor tricks just weren’t pulling you in.

Don’t fall for it.

“Sparky” left a great comment on another Colder’s post we thought we would share with you, if you’re still confused or otherwise considering shopping at Colder’s:

I question previous individuals stating that Colder’s is lowering their margins in a time of need or that this is the ultimate good deal. I will admit that at the end of the day this is a ‘good deal’ but only if you enjoy giving Colder’s increased profit margins way above what they should be receiving.

Our story is that we say a dining room set we loved at $1,200. That qualified us for the “full back” promotion and we would get an additional $1,200 as a store credit. They are also currently having an additional 5% bonus so my credit was $1,300. We wanted to buy a dishwasher with the credit and found a nice Professional Frigidaire we liked that also had great reviews.

So, the normal price on the Frigidaire was $750 but the “full back credit” price was $1,060 so basically I was giving Colder’s $360 of my credit back as pure profit to them and nothing to show for it. This is in addition to paying a $400 premium price for the dining room set above their normal price.

Bottom line is that to get my dining room set and a dishwasher, I would be giving Colder’s $710 of my $1,300 credit as pure profit to line their pockets. This is above and beyond the normal profit they receive on the items at the regular prices.

What’s even better is that Best Buy had the exact same dishwasher on sale for $595 with an instant $20 coupon and they also told me about $100 in rebates Frigidaire was offering so I got the dishwasher for $475. Something our salesman at Colder’s neglected to tell us about…..

It was smoke and mirrors from the moment we walked in the door. I spent 20 minutes with him on Saturday and another 30 minutes with him on Sunday. I have his scribble card right here in front of me and none of it makes sense. Voodoo Economics. For the record I have an undergraduate degree in Economics and a Masters in Finance and I’ve worked in the Financial Services industry for 20 years. If I can’t make heads or tails out of this, I’m sure non-numbers people would be baffled by it (or just overwhelmed by the slick sales pitch and just buy everything out of blind faith that they are getting a good deal).

Could I have bought the table at the normal price and bypassed the “full back” promotion? Yes, and the price was $870. However, that was still a normal everyday price with no discounts for the holiday or any sales pricing. Based on my experience this weekend and the smoke and mirrors games, I refuse to give them anything going forward (and I’ve spent probably $5,000 over the years at Colder’s before these types of sales evolved – they used to be a great place to shop).

All they are doing is marking everything up 25 to 30% above the “normal” prices to create the cushion for the “full or half back” promotions. What they fail to tell you is that you are giving them back the 25 to 30% of your rebate in addition to the profit margins they already have built into the normal pricing. [emphasis is ours –alexfalkenberg.com] Nothing illegal about it and if they get people to buy from them, good for them – it’s a free market society. However, it won’t be from me anymore. There are way too many other options out there from stores that don’t play games.

Read it. Twice. Then read it again. You’ll hopefully now find yourself considering and favoring furniture and appliance destinations that are not Colder’s.

Be safe and smart this holiday season, folks. Thanks again to “Sparky” for sharing his experience with all of us.

There’s Something About “Mary” (and Colder’s)…

“Mary” takes time–on Easter Day, of all days–to give us her apparent best: a curt yet carefully constructed point of view regarding our post Colder’s of Grafton – Beware The Sales Stalker:

Classy.“Mary”, you certainly do make a valid point about us being losers! In a retail sense, as consumers who’ve spent money at Colder’s expecting to be treated honestly, fairly, and with respect, we are indeed huge losers so far! And so are many other people who have given Colder’s their hard-earned money at one time or another. We’re all big losers because we shopped at Colder’s!

As for getting a life, “Mary”, that really got us pondering! Who might have less of a life and more urgently need to “get” one: people raising awareness of a company ripping off consumers, detailing shoddy customer service and their experiences so others don’t make the same mistakes, or employees who willingly take 100%-commission jobs and then reduce and demean themselves chasing down shoppers like the filthiest of lawyers chase down ambulances? We prefer to remain in the non-stalking, pro-consumer, down-with-crap-companies camp, thank-you-oh-so-very-much.

We then wondered: could someone be considered a big loser lacking a life if they spent part of their Easter Sunday leaving comments like yours, above? Any insight there, “Mary”?

At least you didn’t call us extortionists!

“Mary”, it’s perfectly OK to disagree with us. Really! However, a tip, if you don’t mind one: if you really want to have an impact, some actual substance to accompany the grade-school-variety name calling might help you establish your position and even ‘win’ the discussion.

For example: what about our observations and opinions lead you to believe we have no lives? What is it that you feel really, truly makes us big losers? If you work for Colder’s, or have some other less-direct affiliation with them, that alone is OK; we definitely don’t hate you or anyone else for just that, at all. There’s really no need to take any of this personally, either, “Mary”. What parts of our very real observations, opinions and feelings about our Colder’s experiences bother you so much, and why?

As it stands, “Mary”, you’re apparently calling us names like some kind of self-indulgent, insolent child for pointing out–truthfully and honestly, by the way–that we don’t like to be treated badly. Do we want to be literally hunted like so much prey in the case of the Grafton Sales Stalker when we visit a Colder’s store–or any retail store? No, thank you, we do not. Do you?

We previously wrote:

[…] we have absolutely no interest in buying from someone that doesn’t respect us, our space, or our time to shop at our own leisure. We can’t check out items in the store when we’re feeling eyes burning into our backs as we’re standing there. We feel like meat.

Reading that, your get-a-life/big-loser comment really doesn’t make any sense–to us, anyway–unless you’re the stalker or are otherwise just trying (and failing) to defend the stalker, Colder’s itself, or both.

Do you believe being treated like that as a customer is acceptable? Would you honestly appreciate that as a consumer? Is such behavior appropriate for any salesperson? Would such a technique get you to spend a lot of money with that salesperson and their store/company? Did you answer ‘yes’ to any of these questions, “Mary”?

So please, do feel free to try again, “Mary”. Really. We’re listening and want to hear what you have to say, assuming you actually have more to say. While we have stated many times that we value every comment we receive, some are ultimately more–or less–valuable than others. Try to make your next one really count. OK, “Mary”?

And again, reiterating: We absolutely recognize commission sales jobs can be hard. We know a lot of good people work them. Many because they have no choice. Others because they’re good at it. And some people even like it. We do indeed recognize and respect the work and people out there doing it. But in the case of the Grafton Sales Stalker, we’re confused about how throwing all dignity and self-esteem out the window is even remotely worth whatever money she might make from it. We’re not laughing at this person. We feel sorry for her. Such extreme behavior is embarrassing to watch. It seems so…desperate. Unnecessary. Rude. It’s very uncomfortable for us as shoppers. It does not make us want to visit Colder’s Northshore in Grafton or any other retail establishment that has employees behaving like that. We have avoided the Grafton Colder’s many times because we just don’t want to be accosted by that woman yet again. We’re convinced she drives away more sales than she makes, stalking people like that.

By the way, “Mary”, before we forget: we were completely unable to reach you at the “biteme@msn.com” email address you provided. Maybe just leave us your @colders.com email address next time? Thanks again for your comment, “Mary”!