Phone companies and Mortgage Companies

Why is it that in any other industry the customer service team is happy you’ve actually purchased their product or use their services – except the two above?

I have been thinking about this for the past week as I have talked to my mortgage company and have dealt with Vonage. It seems to me that these two businesses have forgotten that the reason they are in business is that they have and MAINTAIN customers. To me, I will never do business with Vonage again. I’ve had a couple of good mortgage companies over the years – but for the most part they are bad. I’ve had run ins with AT&T and other phone companies over the years as well.

Really I have to say (from a positive notes) I’ve had nothing but good experiences world wide with Tmobile. Their customer service is exceptional and frankly they really seem to care about me as a customer.

My previous mortgage company (and now I regret getting a really low rate during the refi) was great as well, Midwest Bank out of Chicago.

So today rather than lambast the idiots of the world I am sending a shout out to these two fine companies who really seem to care about their customers.

Frustration with phone companies continued

So while I am not trying to beat a single drum these days, I am very frustrated with Vonage and their customer service.

So frustrated that I haven’t been able to call them back for two days. I get on the phone with them and they tell me it’s my fault. So, it’s their fault that I am spending all my blogging time talking about how horrible their customer service is.

At some point I should start a campaign. Something designed to remind Vonage that their customers are what make them a comapny , not their VOIP Service.

You can build the greatest edifice the world has ever seen – but if the world doesn’t see it, it isn’t relavent.

Their VOIP service is horrible –

Their Customer Service is worse (if that is even possible and sadly it is)

So, for another day Vonage continues to suck.

Vonage Continued…

wow is this sad. First I feel stupid for not distrusting a phone company – I’ve been trained not to trust phone companies my whole life.

Vonage however has portrayed themselves as a company that isn’t your traditional phone company. And they have some very interesting tricks that make them even more deceitful than a regular phone company.

1. They create a shadow or second number for your actual number. You have to cancel both. If you don’t cancel both they don’t cancel your account.

2. unless you receive written confirmation of cancellation – they haven’t cancelled your account.

The thing is a regular phone company is tied to your specific number (my phone number = everything the phone company manages for me). with number 1, Vonage is able to trick you into staying a customer and paying for their services – without ever using their services. It’s a wonder wall street hasn’t blasted them for this – services that they bill – pure profit and then NEVER actually have used seems to me like scam.

Anyway – my saga with Vonage continues. It’s a lesson to me – don’t trust anyone. Hopefully it’s a lesson to them – they have the worst customer service I’ve ever dealt with.

My lesson learned out of all of this is that I cannot trust a phone company. In fact the only phone company that I’ve dealt with recently that has treated me fairly has been T-Mobile. I will never recommend use or have anything to do with Vonage ever again.

So we end where we began the last blog – Vonage is the worst phone company. Their service itself is horrible and their customer service is the worst I have ever dealt with.

Is it possible that Vonage is the worst company on earth?


In fact it’s more than possible it’s true.

I had Vonage server over a year ago. Cancelled it in September 2007. AT&T took over the line and number from Vonage.

I called and cancelled the service and of course like a good consume I ASSUMED THE MORON’S AT VONAGE WOULD FINISH THEIR END OF THE JOB.

Wow do I feel stupid. Doing my end of year accounting I noticed a large Amex charge to Vonage. Somewhere in the 1 year’s worth of service range. I called them, cancelling my service again. Only to be told they wouldn’t even consider a refund – IT WAS MY FAULT.

So I filed a complaint with the BBB and will post this message everywhere I can.

Don’t trust Vonage unless it is in writing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! They have the worst service (i’ve since done other VOIP solutions that actually work).

Down with Vonage!

Build vs Buy

A long debate in the software architecture business is the concept of buy vs build. I’ve talked about it personally with a number of people over the years. It always seems to come down to the concept of innovation.

The rate of innovation is the reason that you build software. The rate of innovation is also the reason you let someone else build software.

The head of the pin that issue resides on is so tiny you can fall to either side with a simple job change (new CIO).

But IT projects often fail – at a fairly high rate most of the time in fact. They fail mostly in the implementation or deployment phase. So innovation becomes an issue of deployment rather than an issue of development.

Does deployment reduce your innovation?

Can you innovate and never make it available to anyone?

Is innovation little more than a pretty wrapper on something old?  (sorry couldn’t resist that one).

The concept of innovation drives the development of software (net new) but the failure of innovation is not addressing the concept of deployment.

So, the question out of this (working back to the concept of buy vs build) is can we create a method of deployment that will both reduce our risk of deployment and enable innovation?

That is a quest for the ages…

Does being calm mean you are really being a Duck?

Ducks often look like they aren’t working very hard on the surface when they actually are working very hard.

To me this seems to almost be an adage of software architecture. Software architects often appear to have things under control when in fact they do not. Architecture is the art of remaining calm while those around you lose theirs (calm).

Let’s think about that for a little bit. What does it mean to stay calm? Do you blithely ignore that which flows around you? No. You know that things change. Change is the inevitable component of the life that flows around around us. Change is in fact by definition the only constant. Which violates the definition of a constant (unchanging) but you get the point.

Architect’s are change managers and change agents. Therefore they are often aware of the potential for change in the environment and are less phased by the “actualization” of that change.

The question that then comes to mind for me is the concept of change itself. But that is for another blog…

Trust your GPS.

I’ve been traveling now for the past 12 years. Landing in a city (often at night) hoping to grab a cab and arrive at the hotel where I was staying. (The Marriott’s send me Christmas card’s now – which happens when you spend lot’s of money in their hotels). This used to terrify me. I would ask the customer for specific directions, get a map and hope not to get lost.  With my GPS I find I don’t worry about that part of the trip anymore.

Now I land and run.

But interestingly enough (and hence this blog) I now worry about other things that didn’t used to have an impact on me.

The new thing that I live in fear of now is the airlines missing my connection. Until about 2 years ago I had only missed two connections, ever. Since then I have missed 11 connections. To me that is a little scary now – since missed connections either means I am late for a meeting or worse frankly, I don’t get to go home when planned.

Interesting how one fear becomes another.

The last time I slept well

Why is it that as you get older, even if you excersize and eat somewhat well (can’t be perfect) you still seem to sleep less and less?

Lately I find myself sleeping between 4-6 hours a night. I used to need a lot more sleep so the net is I gain time in the day. But I never feel like I’ve slept anymore.

In the old days I would sleep in on Sunday’s and start the week out refreshed. Now I start the week out looking for the rewind button.

To boldly steal a line…sleep is wasted on the youth.


How high will the flames go?

“tear this wall down.”

When we think about application functionality how do we measure it’s impact on the original problem? If a solution failed to meet the original goals, why then would migrating from that solution become an issue? You had a business problem that required a solution. Part of the problem was solved by the deployed solution, but not all of it, so rip it out baby!

The concept of flames and software appeals to me. Not because I like to burn things, although I do, rather because flames represent the level of pain people are willing to accept. “If the kitchen is too hot, get out!”

So if a solution to a problem is bad – how high are you willing to let the flames get?

To balance and manage

i miss teaching school.

There is a wonder in a child’s eyes that simply cannot be fond in anything else. It’s fun when it’s your own children – you see the light but there is a sense that you have a lot more to do than simply watching for the moment of clarity.

Parents have to guide so much more than wonder. But as a teacher, you guide the wonder on a journey that is magical and engulfing. I miss that sometimes. It’s fun dealing with technology all day, but computers don’t smile when they get why 2 + 2 = 4. That moment, that clarity of purpose and vision is why we become teachers.

On this day when perhaps change is at hand, we should all stop and thank those who opened the door of wonder for us.

It’s DTS hug a teacher day!

Scott Andersen

Founder, Dead Teachers Society.