Monthly Archives: July 2007

Support and Sunrocket Alternatives

sunrocket goes belly-up, suggests we try teleblend. who?Like everyone else who used Sunrocket as their VIOP provider, I’m now looking for a replacement service, as they’ve just announced that they’ve stopped their service. And because I went to Sunrocket in the first place because Vonage customer service was so bad, I’m spending a lot of time reading reviews of other VOIP providers.

I like the convenience of having phones all around my house – it’s a small house and I have 6 phones, and still have a hard time finding one when it rings – so going cell-only, while an option, isn’t my first choice. And I briefly worked for our local phone company once, and will do almost anything to never give them any money again. So finding a VIOP provider I don’t mind (I don’t even have to like them, just not find them too objectionable) would be the best option for me.

But reading the comments on the review boards – wow. I may go cell-only just because I don’t want to give money every month to a company that doesn’t treat me decently. It’s why I canceled Vonage in the first place, and is the sole reason I’m not going back to them. I don’t need all that many features (though will admit I enjoy number blocking quite a bit, and would like a less-expensive plan with limited minutes, since I never use many) but I will not knowingly sign up with a company that doesn’t tell me the truth, or whose representatives don’t have the knowledge or authority to fix my problem or even to connect me with someone who does. I just won’t – I don’t want to support that kind of business model if I absolutely don’t have to. I don’t fly Northwest (if I can possibly avoid it) for the same reason – I just don’t want to give money to people who treat me that badly.

So this decision really comes down to support, for me, since I do have the luxury of not getting VOIP or a landline at all, and of taking my time to make up my mind. There are several providers who have the features I want and a decent price, and I’m very willing to put up with the VOIP phoneline quality. But unless I find one where I get more confidence in their support – even though I doubt I’ll need it – I don’t think I’ll be signing up with any of them. (And Sunrocket’s suggestion – Teleblend – is just scary. I’ve never heard of them before; they’re not on any of the review sites; at least 2 of their URLs were registered this week, and there’s very little info about their agreement on their site – just “sign up”. How about “no thank you”!)

Support does matter. And if we buy, or sign up for, the least expensive alternatives based only on price, we’re just incenting companies to provide bad support. And making it harder for people who provide good support to survive.

More and More … it’s about Support

I’m in process of switching away from a program I’ve liked for many years. I’ve been thinking about it for a while, but a bad support experience was what pushed me off the fence. The support people weren’t rude, or even hard to reach; they just didn’t know the answer to my question, said they’d find out and get back to me, and never did.

More and more, I’m basing my buying decisions on support. I dropped Vonage for VOIP because their support was clearly outsourced and had no idea what they were doing. I don’t mind outsourced, but I do mind not giving support people enough information to answer questions, or enough authority to solve problems. I’ll never buy anything from Dell again for the same reason. Their PCs are fine, their prices can’t be beat, but their customer service people can’t fix a problem, and can’t even escalate it to someone who can.

For software – I have to be able to get support. I depend way too much on software working to put up with no reply to my email messages, no followup on problems, or no way to know my message has even been received. My work, my personal info, my conversations: I depend on software, and on the safety net of knowing I can get help if I need it. I won’t buy a bad product with good support, but there’s a lot of good software in the world. I won’t – and don’t have to – settle for anything but good support.

We do phone support here – tollfree in the U.S. – and while it’s one of our biggest expenses, there’s no way we’ll drop it. Yes, it takes more time to talk to someone on the phone than to email them, but when someone needs help, we want to provide it, whatever it takes. And email is not always the best way to communicate, or even always a reliable way. No matter how good our email sending is, if someone can’t receive it, the communication doesn’t happen.

Kevin and Lee - our friendly and helpful support people

I’m proud of a number of things we’ve accomplished in the last 10 years, and high on the list is the killer support we provide. I’ve heard some of the conversations, and I’m always impressed. If every company – software or otherwise – had as good support as we do, things would be a lot easier for everyone. And I think that many, many people – the people who actually use, need and call the support lines – would be a lot less stressed and angry so much of the time.

And the Winner Is…

carrot2.jpgWe had a lot of great comments in June, with so many people tuning in during our anniversary celebration, and joining all the quick blog contests that we had. So I was very excited to see who the lucky winner would be in this month’s Giving Stuff Away contest. Could it be you? Let’s find out…

This month the lucky blog contest winner is Software Guru, who commented on the post Wanted: Ten Good Captions. Congratulations! Last month our judges may not have chosen your caption to win that contest, but your entry still paid off! I just sent you an email explaining how to get your prize. If you don’t receive it, reply to this post and let me know.

To everyone else, thanks so much for all the great comments, and be sure to keep ’em coming, because you never know when the winner will be you!