Vonage Agrees to Pay Refunds to N.C. Customers
Consumers who had trouble cancelling trial offers for Vonage's Internet phone service now have a chance to get money back, according to Attorney General Roy Cooper.
The refund opportunity is part of an agreement between Vonage and the attorneys general of 32 states to improve the company's cancellation practices and customer service.
Under the agreement, New Jersey-based Vonage has agreed to pay the states $3 million and to provide refunds to eligible North Carolina consumers who file complaints with Cooper's Consumer Protection Division within 120 days of today's agreement, a news release said.
"Deliberately giving consumers the run-around when they call to cancel is no way to do business," Cooper said. "We've gotten this company to agree to clean up its act and give consumers a chance to get their money back."
The agreement addresses complaints that consumers had difficulty or were unable to cancel their Vonage service after a trial period. The states' investigation revealed that Vonage paid incentives to customer service representatives for retaining or "saving" customers who called to cancel.
As a result, consumers reported that it was extremely difficult and sometimes impossible to cancel their service with Vonage. The agreement puts strict limitations on this practice and requires recording and verification of these telephone calls.
Cooper and the other attorneys general also had concerns about other marketing practices that confused consumers about the costs of Vonage equipment and service. Consumers complained that they didn't know that the service required high-speed Internet access and additional equipment that was not included in the "free" offer.
As part of the agreement, Vonage will revise its disclosures about "free" services, money-back guarantees and trial periods.
Since 2007, 65 North Carolinians have complained to Cooper's Consumer Protection Division about Vonage customer service and cancellation practices. For example, some consumers said that they were put on hold for a long period of time or they had difficulty reaching a representative, which kept them from canceling within the "free offer" or "Money Back Guarantee" period.
Other consumers complained that they contacted Vonage by phone and cancelled their service, yet still received a monthly bill from Vonage or had money deducted from their bank accounts.
North Carolina consumers who have unresolved complaints about unauthorized charges from Vonage should file a complaint with the Consumer Protection Division no later than March 16, 2010 to be eligible to receive a refund. Complaint forms are available online at www.ncdoj.gov or by calling (877) 5-NO-SCAM.
Along with North Carolina, other states that participated in the settlement were Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Kentucky.
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