Why I no longer recommend Packet8
So, I have been searching for the right VoIP connection for my home-based business. I am not interested in Qwest... not in the least. My Cable provider has an expensive service that doesn't really fit my needs.
My needs are simple. I want a softphone that can ring at the same time another phone rings. I don't need a fancy business system because everyone else I work with pays for their own phones... I don't have to transfer and I don't have to worry about business phone needs. I have been with Packet8.net for three years now, so I thought that I should start looking there.
The experience started about a week ago.
I spent some time on a chat session with someone at Packet8. This person told me that if I wanted to have a softphone to work, I would simply need to download and associate a calling plan with it.
I didn't feel very confident about the conviction to his answers, so I wasn't sure exactly what to think. I figured the truth had to be somewhere in what he was saying, but I just didn't have time then to figure it out.
First, I went to the Packet8 site and downloaded their softphone software. Every time I tried to input my account information because I was an existing customer, it told me my account didn't exist. I thought maybe I had forgotten my password, so I asked for a reminder. After four times asking for a reminder, I finally figured out that the account I had wouldn't work.
I had to set up a new account.
Finally, after about 45 minutes of trying, I could download the free software. I couldn't tie it into my existing number and I couldn't dial out or receive calls from PSTN lines, so I clicked the little "Upgrade" button at the top of the software. It takes me to the Packet8 website and I get the following message:
Thank you for your interest in the Packet8 Softalk Premium Service. Packet8 has announced that it is immediately suspending its residential Packet8 Softalk Premium service.
Oh, that's annoying. And just plain stupid. I just need a softphone. In fact, if I can't get it to ring in two places at once, I'd settle for just a softphone that works.
Because I am a far more patient man than any customer should be, I decided to give Packet8 another chance. I left them an email message to contact me.
I get a call from a Senior Sales Rep who was very helpful at the beginning. At this point, I knew that Vonage had a service that would work for me for only $25 per month. I talked with the sales rep (I'll leave his name out of it) for about 15 minutes. I explained what I wanted and he explained how the service worked. There were a lot of acronyms thrown around, so it was a good thing I understand the VoIP business, or I might have been lost. After all, I implemented VoIP at my last office.
In the end, he told me that he could get me what I wanted for $35 per month. Not bad... only $10 more per month than their competitor. I figured that I could negotiate a little because at the bottom of every plan description on their site, is the cute little statement, "We will match any competitor quote." Unfortunately, I assumed that meant they would match competitor pricing.
So, I mentioned that Vonage had the softphone service for only $25 per month and he acted as though that was simply not possible. He started to talk about an auto-attendant that he offered until I pointed out that I didn't care about an auto-attendant... I just need a phone.
When he indicated that he didn't keep up on his competitors, I directed him to their website. As he was looking at their website, he started to comment on a patent infringement lawsuit that Vonage was going through right now. (I thought he didn't keep up on his competitors.) He then pointed out that he couldn't compare a residential service to business service.
In the end, it felt like I was spending my energy arguing because I wanted to know what he could do and not what he thought of his competitor. After spending far more time than I should have to get a stupid little phone, I finally told him that I think I may just be done with Packet8. For three years, I have had similar experiences to this. It reminds me of my countless hours arguing with Qwest.
No customer should have to guess as to what the service is. No customer should have to wonder how it works. No customer should have to explain needs, get the wrong answer, explain needs again then get an argument that the competitor is infringing on a patent. This after already spending way too much time trying to figure it out.
So, my vote for Packet8 right now... a resounding NO.
Corey Smith is the president of Tribute Media a web development firm providing high performing, industry specific websites. He is a businessman, writer, technology fanatic, graphic designer and web developer. His greatest passion is teaching, consulting and speaking.
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