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#38124 by packetfire
Sun Dec 20, 2009 6:47 pm
TL:DR Version - Trying to buy what is advertised is a Three Stooges comedy festival, and all this costs Ooma money, which runs Ooma into the ground, which ends badly for Ooma.

Here's what happened:

1) I call Ooma to make sure that I can port my easy-to-remember (212) area code number ending in "00" to Ooma without risk, and I am assured by the very professional rep that the actual porting is done to a carrier, like XO Communications. That's good, because if Ooma goes belly up, I can port my number away from XO without the number being tied up in red tape by the hypothetically defunct Ooma company.

2) I ask about the difference between the white and silver "Hub" and the black "Telo". I'm told that if I activate a Hub before Dec 31, I can avoid the $11 per year "Regulatory Recovery Fee", so I decide to buy the hub, and keep the service absolutely free.

3) So, I run down to the newly-opened Manhattan Costco, as Google says that they have the lowest price, and pick up a Hub. The Costco web page even said that I will get a $100 credit for overseas calls, so it sounds like a good deal to me.

4) But, lo and behold, while the large print giveth, the small print taketh away. The Ooma box says "No Monthly Fees", and "No Contracts", but down in small print, it says "Government regulatory fee of $11.75 included in first year of service". So it looks like I am in fact contractually obligated to pay a monthly fee, and I have to pay it up front, in an annual payment. And no, it isn't the Government I pay, it would be the for-profit company Ooma. So much for "No Monthly Fees" and "No Contracts", huh? And where's my $100 credit for international calls? That seems to only be for orders placed on the Costco website, and not for anything bought in the actual Costco brick-and-mortar stores.

5) So, I call Ooma, and find out that Costco customers somehow ARE uniquely penalized, for reasons that are not explained. Not being a chump, I stroll down to RadioShack and buy a second Hub, one not encumbered by the stigma of being sold by Costco, and pay a few dollars more, but get both a Hub AND a "Scout", which appears to be a useless gizmo for people who have wired phones and "extensions", rather than cordless phones like 99% of people in the industrialized world.
(Anyone want another "Scout"? First one to e-mail me via this Ooma forum can have it for whatever actual shipping charges are via USPS or UPS plus $10 to buy me a drink or two at the local pub. It is still in its sealed box, untouched by human hands.)

6) Now I call Ooma support, and explain to them that I will be returning the first Ooma hub to Costco for a refund, and I'd like to swap in the Hub from Radio Shack, simply to accomplish what I was sold way back in step (2) - a complete lack of any fees for basic service as long as Ooma stays in business. (Remember Sunrocket? Need I say more about the risk one takes by paying a few hundred dollars for any proprietary VOIP equipment?)

7) But no, that would be too easy, wouldn't it? I must cancel my existing service of two days, and go through the entire registration process all over again.
All this takes half an hour of tech support time, which is likely the most expensive cost Ooma could endure over a customer. But that's not all! The support rep wants a non-Ooma phone number to call me on, as some other group in tech support must call me back to confirm that the account has been canceled. More money down the drain for a tiny company with razor-thin margins in a crowded market of carnivorous competitors.

So, let's see what I have cost Ooma so far, before I have made even a single phone call:

a) A perfectly good Ooma hub is returned to Costco, who will send it back to Ooma for credit. Ooma might be able to resell it as a refurb, but likely will just scrap it, as they'd rather sell the Telos (in Darth Vader bathroom black, with the black lights that light up black to tell you that you touched the wrong place on the black touchscreen with the black lettering on a black background...).

b) At least an hour of total sales and support staff has been consumed by initial pre-sales questions, the answers that turned out to be misleading for anyone buying at Costco, the post-sales confusion, and the eventual cancelling of the service associated with the first Hub.

Total cost? Worst case, lets call it $100 for the Hub, and another $200 for fully-burdened costs of two hours of decently-paid people with some technical ability and the social skills to deal with "the public". $300 bucks. And all they made was about $100 for the $199.00 I paid for the RadioShack hub I will use without ever signing up for any of the "Premier" services I don't need. It will also cost them whatever a NYC number costs, as they must temporarily "retire" the extra number I used by being forced to register twice.

If Ooma keeps stumbling on its own attempts to play cute and offers different deals to different market segments, it will cost them $200 for EVERY customer with more than half a brain. This is bad, as it means that they will die, and I will never be able to get enough use from my Ooma hub to make it to a breakeven point versus lower-cost services like MagicJack.

What they should have done was to cut their losses, and quickly swap the MAC address of the new box for the old one, and not run their costs up with all the shenanigans. Better yet, they could have realized that I was a miserly little SOB, and they could have just "grandfathered" my initial Hub, and not forced me to return it and buy another.

But they didn't do any of this, which means that the wheels are off Ooma's implementation of perfectly predictable steps in the "sales" and "support" process.
Perhaps Ooma should hire me to fix all these processes for them, Lord knows I've got enough grey hair, and speak enough fluent telco.

But likely, they won't even make contact to post-mortem the Marx Brothers film festival that was my purchase experience.

And that makes me wonder if these guys are any smarter than the Sunrocket guys.
#38128 by oldanbo
Sun Dec 20, 2009 7:10 pm
WOW...packetfire the name seems to fit. That's a lot of negativity to take in at one bite. And I too have a rather lengthy telecom background.

I don't speak for ooma in any capacity, way, shape or form. But I feel bad that you have had such a poor experience with them. I too think their support is lacking, I've had my best luck with the knowledge of other forum contributors.

But, I may, unless someone beats me to it, take you up on that scout for $10 plus shipping. Let me double check with my son as I gifted my hub to him when I went Telo.

I agree that ooma needs to make quite a few improvements. But as long as I have an internet connection, every time I pick up the phone it works. I don't think ooma is doomed yet. But, management has some work to do. I mean C whatever O's.

Regards,
Dan
#38145 by dtalwar
Sun Dec 20, 2009 8:28 pm
I agree with you packetfire ... I too went thru the whole SunRocket experience. I became an Ooma customer about 6 or so months ago. Everything was great until last few weeks. Oh, no complaints as far as the service goes. I use both Telo and Hub & Scout combo. Everything works great! Except for the Telo handsets. I have all but given up on the handsets. I do think, a little bit with Telo, and a whole lot more with the handsets, Ooma has bit more than it can chew. To top it all, the problems with my.ooma, confusing advertising, and poor customer support aren't helping at all. Having said that, I am still putting my money in Ooma. I think the company is going through what I would call as teething troubles. I think they will eventually get it right. I just hope for their sake and a lot of us Ooma lovers' sake that that happens sooner rather than later.
#38155 by hteinlin
Sun Dec 20, 2009 9:44 pm
The reg fee as you mention is paid to Ooma. Because the government does not collect from individual subscribers but rather the companies.

This is the same with all phone companies. All the fees you pay to the phone compnay... Then the government charge the phone co based on number of costumers they service.

And yes the reg fee is free for owners of HUB+Scout bundle. Those with just the HUB from Costco are subjected to the fees.

But look at it this way, it was cheaper at Costco + $100 international credit if you actually use it.
So look at it this way going the Costco route would be the same as having 10 years of service of paying the annual fees.
#38156 by hteinlin
Sun Dec 20, 2009 9:45 pm
Also to note. The scout is useful if you want to use the Premier features like 2nd line.

And regardless whether or not tech support is used doesn't matter to Ooma, they still have to pay their workers.
I sat on the phone with cust serv (NOT Ooma) for 5 hours one time trying to figure out a problem I was having. The tech was very helpful and we actually ended up chatting. At the end of it, I apologized for taking up so much time... the response "doesn't matter, if I'm not helping you I'm just helping someone else anyways"

So more than anything you just took up a rep's time to help someone else. But didn't cost Ooma anything extra, cause regardless he/she will get back if she is napping at the phone, away chatting, or helping someone else.
#38163 by oldanbo
Sun Dec 20, 2009 10:52 pm
Yes the fee that ooma is "forced" to charge is imposed by the feds. Kinda like the "Gore" tax and the "rural" telephone tax. You remember, the tax that was imposed on city dwellers in the 30's or 40's to make sure that everyone would have telephone service. It was the Universal telephone tax. Guess what!
You are still being charged that tax today! Unless you were smart enough to switch to VOIP. Well now....I guess we aren't so smart after all. The GOVERNMENT, in all their infinite wisdom found a way to tax you anyway.

Let them eat cake. Remember to vote.

Flame off and fed up.

Regards
#38177 by packetfire
Mon Dec 21, 2009 7:01 am
"But look at it this way, it was cheaper at Costco + $100 international credit if you actually use it."

Nope, I could NOT get the $100 international credit, as this would have only been for those who purchased a Telo from Costco's website, so not for buyers of Hubs, and not for those who buy in-store.

Like I said - confusing and contradictory.
Leaves a rational person feeling like a chump.

And Puhleeze, don't lecture me on "Regulatory Recovery Fees", as this is exactly like me charging each of my consulting customers a fraction of the income taxes I must pay to the IRS, and telling my customers that the fee is "government imposed". Sure, it was imposed by the Government, but on ME, not on my customers.

"oldanbo" seems to have preliminarily snagged the "Scout" device, and he should e-mail me his address via the profiles on this site (click on username) so I can look up postage, soon if he wants it for under the tree at Christmas. (And no, that wasn't "negativity", it was me laughing my head off at how convoluted it all was for nothing but a loss for Ooma on every move that a well-informed customer using enlightened self-interest would make.
#38180 by byersthja
Mon Dec 21, 2009 7:13 am
I would chalk this up as a "lesson learned". Prior to purchasing any product, do your homework. The information regarding the Costco version of the Ooma Core is readily available on the Ooma forums, and other forums on the internet. I spent a couple of months researching Ooma prior to purchasing my Core system. I'm happy with the quality of the service and feel I made a good decision purchasing the Ooma Core.
#38215 by oldanbo
Mon Dec 21, 2009 1:51 pm
packetfire wrote:"But look at it this way, it was cheaper at Costco + $100 international credit if you actually use it."

Nope, I could NOT get the $100 international credit, as this would have only been for those who purchased a Telo from Costco's website, so not for buyers of Hubs, and not for those who buy in-store.

Like I said - confusing and contradictory.
Leaves a rational person feeling like a chump.

And Puhleeze, don't lecture me on "Regulatory Recovery Fees", as this is exactly like me charging each of my consulting customers a fraction of the income taxes I must pay to the IRS, and telling my customers that the fee is "government imposed". Sure, it was imposed by the Government, but on ME, not on my customers.

"oldanbo" seems to have preliminarily snagged the "Scout" device, and he should e-mail me his address via the profiles on this site (click on username) so I can look up postage, soon if he wants it for under the tree at Christmas. (And no, that wasn't "negativity", it was me laughing my head off at how convoluted it all was for nothing but a loss for Ooma on every move that a well-informed customer using enlightened self-interest would make.


Thanks packetfire for the generous offer on the scout. I'll have to pass and give someone else a chance at it. My son changed his mind.

Thanks again,
Dan
#38289 by packetfire
Tue Dec 22, 2009 6:08 am
"Prior to purchasing any product, do your homework..."

No, that's the whole point - I DID do my homework, but none of the specific assurances made both in writing and by Ooma sales reps were kept! Worse yet, I had to jump through hoops just to avoid a "gotcha" that would have cost me money.
I doubt I will ever see any action from Ooma on this.

I would chalk this up as a "lesson learned".

I would chalk this up as "you need to re-read a discussion thread before commenting"! :)

Cheers!

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