I thought I would be writing this post to say how great Lingo is, and how you should all sign up for their service. They answer their phone within a couple rings, no matter when I called, and sounded like they would be able to fix any technical problems I had. However, after spending hours on the phone with customer support, I discovered that their customer support (in India, like so many other companies these days) doesn't really know anything, and can hardly speak English.To get any problem really solved, you have to talk to technical support, which is in the US, and takes 30 minutes just to speak to someone. They were fairly helpful, although if it was a difficult problem, such as my timezone is incorrect on my voicemail, it would have to be escalated to a supervisor, and then it might take up to two weeks for them to figure out how to fix it. I cancelled the service a couple weeks ago, and I just got a return call from technical support yesterday. I didn't bother calling back, since the number they told me to call back was a non-800 number. I am not going to wait on hold for a half hour when I have to pay for it.
Lingo received the modem the other day, but has yet to refund my money. I will probably end up having to get Citibank to go take the money out of their account. By the way, Citibank is the best credit card company I have ever dealt with.

As for getting a voice over internet phone provider, I am thinking about Vonage or Speakeasy. Speakeasy is my DSL provider, and they have excellent customer service. Everything is always taken care of quickly and pleasantly.
Vonage has been doing VOIP for longer, Speakeasy just started in October, and doesn't have a trial period, and has a hefty cancellation fee, which after my experience with Lingo, I need to have a trial period to make sure that our phone rings when we get calls, that outgoing calls go through when I dial them, etc.
Lingo's service was significantly worse than our cell phone, and I had the modem set up to give the best voice quality, and computer data at the worst. And, we have a reasonably fast DSL connection, so I can't imagine what their service would be like on a more standard DSL connection.

My favorite quotes from Lingo customer support:
Lingo: Thank you for being on line with me.

Me: What do I need to return in order to get my money refunded?
Lingo: Everything that came in the box.
Me: I am not sure what everything is, can you give me a list?
Lingo: You should know what is in the box, you opened it right?
Me: Yes, I did open it, but I didn't save everything in the same place, so I not sure how many phone cords, pieces of paper, etc. were in the box. Do I need to return all of that?
Lingo: Yes, everything that was in the box.
insert 15 more minutes of this
Me: I am still not sure what I am supposed to return, and I don't think you know either. If Lingo doesn't even know what to return, how would your customers?
Lingo: I already told you what you need to return.
Me: Hmm... I don't remember you telling me. What do I need to return?
Lingo: Everything in the box.
Me: Which is?
Lingo: uhh.. two power cords, the lingo modem, the... uhhh.. I already told you, everything in the box. If you didn't know what was in the box, how did you put it together?
Me: I guess I am a genius.
Lingo: I will transfer you to technical support.
on hold for 30 minutes
Me: Customer support wasn't able to tell me what I need to return. He said two power cords and the Lingo modem, is that correct, as I never received two power cords.
Lingo: Hrm. No, there is only one power cord. You need to return the modem, the power cord, and the ethernet wire.
Me: That's it?
Lingo: Yup. Customer support should know that.
While I was on the phone with technical support, customer support called, and left a message saying that I needed to also return the manual. So, I called Lingo again
Me: I just got a message from Lingo customer support saying I need to return the manual. I never received a manual
Lingo (first person I talked to that morning, not the annoying one): Didn't I talk to you before?
Me: Yes, I have been on the phone with you guys since I last talked with you.
Lingo: Oh. That was a long time ago.
Me: Yes.
Lingo: Well, I guess if you never got the manual, than you can't return it.
Posted by Jon Daley on May 2, 2004, 6:04 am | Read 15242 times
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If it weren't so annoying, that would be hysterical. Sounds like one of the better e-mail jokes -- someone is going to copy it and send it around. You'll probably still be hearing the story five years from now.
Posted by SursumCorda on October 5, 2004, 12:56 pm

I have started the process to use Speakeasy's VOIP service.
I somehow had misread their cancellation fee, which is still annoying, but it is only $45, so that is a little better than I had been thinking. I still don't understand why they don't have a trial period.
Since they will be the people who provide my internet connection, they guarantee the quality will be land-line quality, so that is better than Lingo.
The first step is to get "OneLink" which means my DSL line won't need a phone line through the local company any more. It will be interesting to see what the phone guys think when they see my phone box, since I did some weird things when I signed up with Lingo to make all of our phones connect using the Lingo adapter.
Posted by jondaley on October 27, 2004, 9:55 am

Just be sure your DSL still works, so we can come visit! :)
Posted by SursumCorda on October 27, 2004, 12:53 pm

SpeakEasy just told me that their VOIP service isn't working in Pittsburgh yet, due to FCC regulations regarding 911. I think the idea is that Speakeasy has to be able to tell 911 what my address is, since 911 can't trace the call over the internet.
Our current internet connection no longer uses our phone line, and just this morning the upload speed was doubled, because I am now hosting a couple servers for DynaVox, and they use up a lot of bandwidth. We do get DSL for free, and lots of people at the company like how much easier these servers are to use than the old ones, so I guess the pros and cons even out.
Posted by jondaley on November 10, 2004, 2:30 pm

To continue the apparently never-ending saga, I just reconciled our credit card bill, and Lingo charged us $30 this month for no apparent reason.
Citibank has reversed the charges, but before they do that, their standard question is, "Have you called the vendor to straighten this out?".
I said that I didn't think that would do any good, since Citibank has already had to go take the money out of Lingo's account before when they wouldn't return my money.
Posted by jondaley on November 17, 2004, 2:49 pm

I have given up on VOIP. I have yet to find anyone who has VOIP that it doesn't sound like they are on a cell phone, or have major outages, etc.
Maybe the service will be better in a year or two.
Posted by jondaley on May 23, 2005, 3:58 pm

Does it sound as if we are on a cell phone when you talk with us? We have been very happy with our VOIP (CallVantage). The only complaint I have so far (after three months' experience) is that we can no longer screen calls, because we can't hear messages being left on voice mail until the caller is finished.
Posted by SursumCorda on May 23, 2005, 10:03 pm

I haven't talked that much with you since you have your new service, but I think Heather agrees that the quality has gone down.
Posted by jondaley on May 24, 2005, 9:25 am

We signed up with USA Datanet; We have used them for cheap long distance ($1 maximum per call to any state northeast of us), and I thought I would try them for voice over IP as well.
There are two reasons I didn't go with Speakeasy, one, they don't give you a trial period, so even if it doesn't work on the first day, you have to pay a $300 cancellation fee, or else keep it for a whole year. Two, their customer service has been going downhill lately, I don't know if it is just in the "business" service, everything did get worse when I upgraded my connection. I will be downgrading shortly, since we now have our server colocated, and don't need fast DSL to our house any more.
USA Datanet doesn't have 911 service in Pittsburgh, and I am not sure what I think about that. The phone book says to call the operator in an emergency, so perhaps that would work. 911 also works on our cell phone, though the cell phone usually stays with the car. I might think about keeping Verizon on a minimum plan, though it seems pretty silly to do that for just 911.
USA Datanet has a two month trial period (though you don't get all of your money back), and there also aren't any contracts in terms of length of service, etc. Since they are not our ISP, the phone can be taken anywhere, as opposed to Speakeasy.
Posted by jondaley on July 26, 2005, 3:13 pm

Responding to SursumCorda's comment about the answering machine - we also realized that you can't pick up in the middle of a message, though we don't screen calls, sometimes we might not get to the phone before the answering machine picks up.
The VOIP voicemail is nice, as it emails us a .wav file, in addition to letting us get the messages the regular way.
It also comes with a million different call forwarding options, and caller id, which we haven't ever had before, but our phones support it, so I guess we will see what we think of that.
Posted by jondaley on July 26, 2005, 3:16 pm

"Dead" cell phones supposedly work for 911, so you could keep Heather's old one in the house for that purpose. It wouldn't work with a dead battery, though....

911 is definitely a problem. It doesn't always work well with cell phones, either. Instead of (or in addition to) requiring VOIP companies to provide better 911 service, perhaps the FCC should require local phone companies to offer a "911 only" phone line. Even if the VOIP companies get their E911 working as they are supposed to, the phone still won't work without power.
Posted by SursumCorda on July 26, 2005, 4:37 pm

It seems that some people say that local phone companies are already required to provide 911 access to unused phone lines.
I guess it is kind of hard to check to see if it works, without cancelling your phone service.
Posted by jondaley on July 28, 2005, 11:57 am

I guess I should just give up on VOIP... From USA Datanet: Thank you for choosing USA Datanet's All Talk Plan. The Federal Communications Commission ("FCC") recently adopted rules prohibiting all providers of Voice over Internet Protocol ("VoIP") services from offering VoIP services unless they also provide access to E911. Under the FCC's rules, subscribers are not permitted to opt out of E911. The rules will become effective on November 29, 2005. Unfortunately, due to the limitations of your area, we have been unable to offer you Emergency Services. We are working diligently to gain coverage in your area and expect to be able to offer you VoIP E911 in the coming months. Once you fully understand the Notice, please sign and fax a copy of the attached Acknowledgment of Receipt of Notice of Limitations of All Talk Emergency Service as soon as possible. If we have not received your fax by Friday, August 5th, your service may be suspended because the FCC requires that we obtain your affirmative acknowledgement that you have received and understood the Notice or we cannot continue to serve you.
Posted by jondaley on July 29, 2005, 7:56 am

We received the equivalent notice from AT&T CallVantage, though it wasn't so scary (their 911 service is better, though still not ideal), and we didn't have to sign and fax anything, just acknowledge that we had received it.
Posted by SursumCorda on July 29, 2005, 11:26 am

I actually have already signed something from USA Datanet, so it appears that they are trying hard to not get sued, although, from what I understand, all providers have to have 911 capability or else cancel the service.
Posted by jondaley on July 29, 2005, 11:32 am
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