netTALK Is Back…. And Serves Up A Customer Service #Fail

One of the stories that dominated space on this blog this year was netTALK. Not only did they get into a dispute with a company called Iristel and in the process deprive thousands of their Canadian customers of phone service for almost a week, it became clear that they were a company to avoid on two fronts. First, they were non-compliant with the CCTS. And strangely the CCTS nor the CRTC did anything about it. And second, netTALK is bleeding money. That made many people in Canada ditch them as their home phone provider.

But last night I got a call from a customer of mine who was still using them as a phone provider. Now in her case, this was a phone that she used to phone long distance cheaply as this was a cheaper option than phone with her main provider of home phone service. She said that there was a constant blinking orange light on her netTALK device. Thanks to Google, I was able to determine that the device was trying to connect to the network and couldn’t. What was weird was the fact that this was connected via Ethernet. Thus it should connect almost instantly to her network. Since she was 15 minutes away, I drove over to have a look. After doing some troubleshooting, I figured out why it couldn’t get onto the network. It was not getting a local network address from her router. In fact, she had a second router lying around which I used to prove that it was not the router that was causing the issue. Rather, it was the netTALK device. Resetting the device didn’t help things. Thus we both concluded it was dead and netTALK would have to replace it.

This is where the “fun” begins.

Now netTALK does not have any means to phone them. You have to use a chat window to access their support. And at the time of day we were using the chat window, it went to the Philippines. Now I have nothing against the Philippines, but this is clearly a cost saving move by netTALK as when I reviewed their product, they had phone support which I gave them points for having at the time. Now I never used their phone support before. But this Philippine based chat window left a lot to be desired. I started the chat by giving a description of the problem and detailed steps of what I did to troubleshoot it. I also related the fact that nothing had been changed on the network prior to the failure of the netTALK device.

Then I waited.

And waited.

And waited some more.

Twenty five minutes later I got a response. The person at the other end asked me for the MAC address of the device which I provided. Then he asked me to go through some troubleshooting steps. The problem was that 80% were steps that I told him up front that I did.

#Fail.

I pointed that out to him and after waiting 10 minutes, he came back with a list of ports that he wanted me to open. The only problem with that question was that it had been working previously and no changes had been made to the network. I pointed that out to him and after waiting another 15 minutes, I got a response asking for my external IP. Now I have to admit that part of me was suspicious of this request. But I provided it anyway as the other part of me suspected that netTALK keeps track of this info. The person on the other end then asked for the model of the router. At this point my “Spidey Sense” was going off as I thought that was being hustled. I gave a router make and model that the customer didn’t own, and then forcefully pointed out that everything had been working fine with no changes to the network. Plus the device could not get a local network address from her router, and I had confirmed that it was the netTALK device by trying it on a second router. After a 30 minute wait, he finally conceded that the device had to be replaced.

But strangely, we were not finished with this fun yet.

The person at the other end of the chat window tried to sell me a brand new netTALK device that was further down the food chain from the one that she had. You read that right. My customer had a broken device. But they tried to sell her a new one. I blew that off and insisted for a like for like replacement for free. After five minutes, he agreed and responded with a request for a shipping address and a phone number. I provided both on behalf of the customer. I also asked for a time frame for when the new device would be delivered and a case number (hint: ALWAYS get a case number when you deal with any contact center for any reason). I got the response that it would take 3 to 7 days to get the new device instantly. But he blew off my request for a case number. So I insisted and insisted again. After 15 minutes, he gave me a case number. For all I know, he made up a bunch of numbers to get me off the chat window. But I guess I will find out as I have to contact them again when the new device arrives so that service can be resumed using the new device.

Total time: 100 minutes. This is a process that should of taken 10 minutes or less. Thus proving that their chat window doesn’t work and their attempt to outsource their technical support may save them money. But it doesn’t help their customers.

Speaking of customers, my customer was so stunned by this that she gave me a task to do. Which was to find a VoIP provider for her to switch to that had way better customer service than what she saw on display. In my mind, there were two. Vonage, and Oooma. But I will do my due diligence to see if there are any others who could be on that list. Another thing that she wanted was to port the number that she had associated with her netTALK device to whatever VoIP service that she decides to go with. I did confirm that the number can be ported. Thus that part may be easy. I say may because I have heard stories of netTALK making this process difficult. And I warned her of that.

The net result is that netTALK is on its way to losing a customer because of this display of customer service. Frankly, this was shambolic and is likely indicative of how netTALK treats their customers. So on top of everything else that I mentioned at the start of this story, customer service, or the lack of quality customer service is one more reason to avoid netTALK.

 

 

6 Responses to “netTALK Is Back…. And Serves Up A Customer Service #Fail”

  1. My wife and purchased Nettalk shortly prior to the number-hostage scandal of Jan 2016 (our number was ported in 2 days before they stopped working!). After all was said and done I opted for the compensation package of an extra 2 months of service just to be able to keep our old number which we had for years.

    After call quality started to fade on Nettalk later I looked into other options, and when it was announced that Ooma was a participating provider with CCTS ( https://www.ccts-cprst.ca/6323 ) I knew the choice was clear for me! I purchased an Ooma box on sale ($90+tax, keep an eye out at Staples, Walmart or Costco, and even http://ca.ooma.com/ )

    For a base plan of $4.50 a month (and in Canadian dollars as opposed to Nettalk’s US $) it provides unlimited Canadian calling. We chose to subscribe to the premier service which is an additional $10 / month, but gives America calling as well as free number porting and a few other nice options.

    We’ve been quite pleased with the call quality and were surprised when our number had been ported in under 2 weeks from Nettalk without issue (thankfully). Note – I used Nettalk’s number forwarding to our new ooma number until our port was complete, seemed to work well, with the exception of the outgoing number was different.

    Just wanted to share our experience, and thank-you for your updates which I have followed since searching for Nettalk info last January!

    • Thanks for the feedback and the info. Question: Did you purchase an Ooma Telo and plug your own phone into it?

      • Yes – We just purchased the Telo; we had a 3-headset cordless phone already that we just plugged in. I imagine you could have bell (or someone knowledgeable) disconnect the line from the pole at your junction box outside, and connect the Ooma to your own house wiring to have corded phones all over.

        Also worth noting to make sure to plug in all of your equipment to a UPS for safety and reliability. My wife and I both have the Ooma app on our phones for incoming and outgoing calls, and also have voicemail forwarded to our emails as an attachment (another useful premier feature, I believe)

      • Thanks for the feeback. I will pass it along to the client. That was most helpful.

  2. […] toothless tigers when it comes to doing so. Strangely in a twist of fate, near the end of the year I had to deal with their technical support on behalf of a customer. And that did not go so well. […]

  3. […] might recall that just before New Years, I was helping a customer with a defective netTALK unit, and the interaction with their customer serv…. Well, I knew that I would have to go back and finish the job once the customer’s replacement […]

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