Is netTALK On Its Last Legs? [UPDATED]

From the “I can’t believe that I am still writing about them” department comes netTALK and the continued frustration of their customer base. When I last wrote about netTALK, I wrote about the fact that netTALK wasn’t porting numbers out of their service when people wanted to change phone companies. It’s now been brought to my attention that their problems seem to go deeper than that. I’ll start with Twitter. Now this usually the part of the story where I show you some tweets and how the company has chosen to respond. Except that company isn’t responding to tweets at all. And any tweets that they put out are few and far between and are of a marketing nature. The only thing that’s out there are frustrated customers who have taken to trolling netTALK. Here’s an example:

An “F” grade isn’t good to say the least. I managed to track down the rating on the BBB website and found that when it comes to netTALK the BBB has this to say:

  • 223 complaints filed against business
  • Failure to respond to 47 complaints filed against business.
  • 69 complaints filed against business that were not resolved.
  • Business has failed to resolve underlying cause(s) of a pattern of complaints.

That’s a huge red flag and a sure sign that they are likely not the company to deal with if you want phone service.

But there’s more. There’s the Twitter feed of netTALK COO Nick Kyriakides. He spends more time tweeting about space and sports than about his own company by several orders of magnitude. And when customers send tweets his way looking for help or complaining about how they’ve been treated, there’s no response from him. That suggests to me that he’s not interested in dealing with this customer service and public relations disaster that is in progress.

Speaking of public relations, this company doesn’t seem to have any to speak of. I have checked their website and there’s no PR link which would lead you to PR contacts, press releases or anything of any sort. Ditto for investor and financial info. That’s weird, You’d think that they’d want to get some press so that their name gets out there. Especially seeing as they appear to have announced (but not shipped as far as I can tell) a new product called the ezLINQ which is a combination of a WiFi Router with VoIP capabilities. I had no clue this product existed until I tripped over it while researching this story. And further research turned up only handful of news about it that took some effort to find. That too is weird. Due to the lack of a clear path to a PR department within netTALK, I was forced to resort to Twitter to try and get a comment from them of any sort. After launching a series of Tweets at netTALK with the requests being that they help a customer that reached out to me for help and that I be put in contact with someone who can speak to the company’s issues, I got this back:

Hmmmm. Direct message the COO of netTALK? Ok. I sent him a DM with a request for comment and I will update this story if/when I hear back.

Perhaps the final thing that shows me that this company has one foot in the grave is that I just got an email chain from a netTALK customer who I first wrote about in the story that I linked to above who filed an FCC complaint about not being able to port her number is still having issues doing so and it appears that the company is making zero attempt to help her. Now at the same time I pinged netTALK to get a comment, I tried to push her issue at the same time. This was their response:

I am watching that situation and I will update you with the results, or lack thereof.

Another data point: I am still getting emails from customers in a similar situation. Two or three a week. So it’s clear that this woman isn’t an isolated case. And anytime you see a company not responding to customer requests for assistance, that’s usually not a good sign. Thus it is suggests to me that netTALK might be on its last legs. If that’s true, I suspect that those who have done business with them may wake up one morning and find that they have no phone service and no way to get that resolved. Or they may want to take proactive action and port their phone number out of their service and find like many others who have tried that they can’t do so. Or not even get a response. And by the time it’s over, consumers will have lost money, phone numbers which are part of people’s identities will be gone, and a whole lot of frustration will ensue. In other words, it’s not going to be a pretty scene with the consumer being hurt the most by this. Now I hope that this isn’t the case as I don’t like to see companies disappear and people being affected in a negative way as a result of that. But in the absence of any evidence to the contrary, I just get the sense that this is the direction that we might be going when it comes to netTALK.

UPDATE: netTALK COO Nick Kyriakides responded to my DM and requested that I email him. I did so with a list of questions and I am awaiting a reply. If/when I get it, I will post it here. 

UPDATE #2: I now have a response netTALK COO Nick Kyriakides that I would like to share with you. I started out by introducing myself and explaining that I’ve have reviewed the DUO and I covered the outage that Canadian netTALK customers had. This was his response: 

Yes, I do recall that. That was definitely a tough time for our customers. Luckily most stuck by us. We’ve made many great improvements since then. The biggest was an end to end upgrade to our entire network. The service is phenomenal now. 

The next question was regarding the fact that people have emailed, tweeted and the like their frustrations with netTALK. Generally around getting to their support group, and specifically with porting their numbers out of their service. I’ll start with the support:

Generally speaking overall customer satisfaction has greatly improved (response times, “first touch” resolutions, and even our self service tools have been great). 

I think you should see a reduction in the amount of customers reaching out to you. As of last week, we re-organized and greatly reduced the amount of clicks to get to support (over the years, our sites grew and the customer path to Support became overly-complicated). Customers can now send us a message directly from support.nettalk.com (self help and message us directly from the messenger), message us from their account when signed into the CONNECT portal, from our app, and email us at support@nettalk.com – they can interact with us from any of those mediums (including email) and the entire history stays in sync. I spend a considerable amount of the day speaking to customers in these channels and can attest to this. 

If you’re a customer of netTALK and you need help, I would try what he suggests above to see if they can resolve your issue. I’d also like feedback, positive, negative, or otherwise, on your experience as I think it’s important to close the loop on this.

Then when it came porting numbers out of their service:

In terms of port-outs on the VoIP side, as long as all the customer information matches, the winning carrier can always assume the number no matter what. Everything needs to match exactly, or else Neustar or the losing carrier (whether it is netTALK or one of our resellers) will have to reject it. It is just the way telecom works but it is a good thing bc you don’t want someone else stealing your number (more on that below). 

In terms of port-outs on the Wireless side, same concept applies but T-Mobile (our underlying carrier) places additional safeguards due to the fact there are bad actors which actively highjack cellular numbers to get access to bank accounts, etc. (more info here: Forbes article). Until the industry as a whole, gets together with a common and streamlined solution, some customers may face delays. That being said we have grown this product significantly over the past year, and this is generally not an issue. (If I had to guess, I would say less than 5% face delays)

Finally, he ended with this statement:

We continue to grow our business and improve our services. We have new mobile apps launching soon and have had an overwhelming response with our ezLINQ pre-orders. I can send you a sample as soon as it is available. We also have some pretty big announcements coming out shortly.

I’ll be replying with a request for a sample of their ezLINQ product and I’ll be watching for those announcements. But I’ll also be watching to see how netTALK moves forward and if the packet storm of emails and tweets that I get about this company subsides over time.

I am also trying to work with Mr. Kyriakides in terms of the woman who can’t port her number out. She’s really frustrated and I’d really like to help her if I can. So if I can broker something that leads to a resolution of this issue, I am willing to do that. Stay tuned for updates. 

UPDATE #3: netTALK COO Nick Kyriakides provided me with a second response in regards to the BBB: 

Also, regarding the BBB, we are not a paying member of the BBB. It is more effective and efficient to go through us: http://support.nettalk.com/duo-terms-and-policies/better-business-bureau-bbb

And:

I also checked the BBB and the 223 complaints. That is a running tally from the year 2009. We have had a couple million users cycle through since then. But I do wish it was zero. 

Finally two other things:

  1. I originally listed Nick Kyriakides as CEO. He’s actually the COO. #Fail. I’ve corrected that. 
  2. The netTALK customer care team will reach out to the customer who is having trouble porting her number to see if they can resolve that issue. I’ll keep you posted.

UPDATE #4: The woman who had issues with netTALK that I wrote about in this story has had her issues with netTALK resolved. Though I can tell you from the emails that she sent me, she was left with a very bitter taste in her mouth. And I have to admit that it shouldn’t take the involvement of someone like me writing a story like this for a company to resolve a customer issue. By the time that happens, something is seriously wrong with the universe. Regardless, I want to thank Nick Kyriakides for working with me to resolve this issue. 

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One Response to “Is netTALK On Its Last Legs? [UPDATED]”

  1. Brian W. Gamble Says:

    Canadian customer had netTALK number “disconnected” mid-day March 19, 2018. Couldn’t call out or receive calls. Got to an on-line help chat, stated problem, got Email response same business day. Problem resolved within 24 hours, which is a notable improvement over resolution to previous frequent problems.

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