What Happens To Customers Whose Providers Disappear?

from the no-more-service-for-you dept

Last week, VoIP provider SunRocket pulled the plug, and it looks like it will be joined on Tuesday by mobile virtual operator Amp'd. But in addition to out of work employees and unpaid creditors, there's another group of affected people here that seem to have gotten lost in the shuffle: these companies' customers. As the comments to one of our posts about SunRocket attests, the company's customers were left hanging in the wind, with no real information about what would happen to their service, or their phone numbers. Amp'd users got a helpful text message ("AMPD MSG: Your svc may be disconnected on 7.24 @ 12:01am. Go to http://www.ampd.com or contact the location where you activated your service for further info.") and a hastily written FAQ. It's not like these companies will really care about their ex-customers, and acting in the name of morality, or even just being decent, won't pay their bills. But the bigger issue here is what this means for other upstart companies, particularly in entrenched industries like telecom. For all their faults and downsides compared to VoIP providers, it's unlikely that companies like AT&T or Verizon will go out of business and leave their customers in the lurch -- and that could make it harder for newer, smaller companies to pull in users.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Old Bastard, Jul 23rd, 2007 @ 10:52pm

    Live and learn

    They will go out and get a new phone. Crap happens. It saddens me that this article plays into the idea that people are helpless noobs who cant wipe thier own ass. Its not the end of the world.
    Shit if AT&T and Sprint and McDonald's all went out of business today it would be slightly inconvenient to me. I would have to get a new cell from Verizon, order up some VoIP for home phone and get some lunch at Carl's Jr.
    Smaller and newer have ALWAYS been a risk. There is sometime a reward for taking that risk. Sometimes you get a bit burned. Is this new? Newsworthy? Interesting? Thought Provoking? No!
    So why did you take the time to type this out?

     

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  2.  
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    GoblinJuice, Jul 23rd, 2007 @ 10:53pm

    "svc"?

    I'd never trust a company that speaks in that godawful "txtmsg" style. :P

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    Old Bastard, Jul 23rd, 2007 @ 10:53pm

    Live and learn

    They will go out and get a new phone. Crap happens. It saddens me that this article plays into the idea that people are helpless noobs who cant wipe thier own ass. Its not the end of the world.
    Shit if AT&T and Sprint and McDonald's all went out of business today it would be slightly inconvenient to me. I would have to get a new cell from Verizon, order up some VoIP for home phone and get some lunch at Carl's Jr.
    Smaller and newer have ALWAYS been a risk. There is sometime a reward for taking that risk. Sometimes you get a bit burned. Is this new? Newsworthy? Interesting? Thought Provoking? No!
    So why did you take the time to type this out?

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 23rd, 2007 @ 11:15pm

    Re: Live and learn

    @ Old Bastard

    Because it is nice that a company who is going out business informs it's customers before doing so, but by sending only a txt msg which reads, "AMPD MSG: Your svc may be disconnected on 7.24 @ 12:01am. Go to http://www.ampd.com or contact the location where you activated your service for further info." is not the very most professional way of doing it.

    And I think that we can all learn a message here - DONT BURN BRIDGES.

     

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  5.  
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    C4, Jul 24th, 2007 @ 12:06am

    Re: Re: Live and learn

    Right, don't burn bridges. Just use lots of explosives. :)

     

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  6.  
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    Shalkar, Jul 24th, 2007 @ 2:35am

    Re: Re: Re: Live and learn

    "Nuke deployed." ;P

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    haijak, Jul 24th, 2007 @ 3:49am

    SunRocket -> TeleBlend

    Well in this individual case. It is quite annoying that none of us were told what to do. But a bunch of us discovered a brand new VOIP provider called TeleBlend.

    The domain was only 2 days old when we found it. But it appears that they bought all the SunRocket Subscriber info, or even all their servers. TeleBlend will re activate your SunRocket box, and switch any phone numbers within seconds of one phone call.

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    venkat, Jul 24th, 2007 @ 3:54am

    gone with the wind!

    yeah. looks like loads of voip providers are on their way out. But anyways, if you are one of the affected party, look at this promo http://www.1800-info.com/sunrocket/index2.php

    but mind you get all the paper work, guarantees, cross checking done before u take the call.

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    Ronnie Thomas, Jul 24th, 2007 @ 4:26am

    VOIP Dependability

    There is another company that has been in the top 10 providers and is solid, great features, and excellent pricing. If you are a SunRocket customer or just want a great provider..try Lingo! http://www.lingo.com/servlet/affiliate/go?agent=2576

     

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  10.  
    identicon
    Jeremy, Jul 24th, 2007 @ 5:32am

    Re: Live and learn

    @ Old Bastard. You hit it right on the head. I have/had Sunrocket and paid for the $199 for 2 years thing. I just finished up my first year and so now I lose out on my 2nd year. For me, its not the end of the world and I don't particularly care because I have a cell phone. It will be an inconvenience for some people, especially those who have had their number for many years. To those people I say, Go to Verizon. They're the ones holding the stupid patent and are trying to close all other VOIP's, so if you want VOIP and don't want to take a chance of losing your service again, go with them. Sure you have to pay more money and you sell your soul to a greedy company that would rather close competition than actually compete, but they aren't going anywhere.

    Portraying Amped subscribers as helpless is just ridiculous. An estimated 80,000 of their customers are not paying! They don't deserve phone service. The people who are paying are getting screwed, but thats the chance you take with one of these start-ups. So many people think that they can get the lowest prices with a start-up company and take no risk. Thats why they are lower in price. There is risk and return.

    /rant

     

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  11.  
    identicon
    Bob3000, Jul 24th, 2007 @ 6:35am

    Re: VOIP Dependability

    Internet rule #43: never click on a link that has an affiliate number in the url.

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    Cunk, Jul 24th, 2007 @ 7:07am

    Re: Re: Live and learn

    Jeremy touches on a point that Old Bastard missed that was raised in the OP. This has chilling implications for startup communications companies. If everyone who got burned by Sun Rocket's collapse runs to Verizon or AT&T now or tells everyone they know to do so, what does that mean for new companies trying to offer something new and innovative? Are they doomed right from the start?

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    RHOTT2, Jul 24th, 2007 @ 9:37am

    VOIP

    I agree on both Old Bastard, Cunk and Jeremy. But if you are looking at a start up company like SunRocket or AMP'ED ( AMP'ED to me was outrageously expensive.) You must expect the worst and hope for the best. My service was shutoff by Sunrocket, I am not going back to a home number i am keeping my cellphone as my main number. Any Dumass person that sees a service that cheap and doesn't see a rick is just plain IDIOT!!! I am not that stupid not see the savings as a chance to loss money. VOIP is fairly new to the public so the demand is not going through the roof. Live and LEARN!!!!!

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    anonymous coward, Jul 24th, 2007 @ 10:13am

    if i was a helio customer, i'd start the process of porting my number to a new service now...

     

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  15.  
    icon
    Derek Kerton (profile), Jul 24th, 2007 @ 11:01am

    Helpless Noobs

    For the most part, people are helpless noobs.

    But Old Bastard, you (deliberately?) skip the important part of the SunRocket flame-out: many people (and businesses) are NOT receiving their phone calls because their service was shut off with no warning. With no one at SunRocket to support them, it becomes difficult to port the phone number to another provider. Getting another phone number could require big marketing investment to notify your customers, and the reprinting of all business cards, letterhead, websites, stationery, etc.

    It's not at all like the bad-fitting metaphor you offer of painlessly switching from McD's to Carl's if McD's went bankrupt. To modify your metaphor to be more fitting: it would be like you drove to McD's parked your car in the lot, and while you were walking into the store, they shut down, locked off access to the lot, and kept your car. The bankrupt company is not answering calls, and has one of your valuable assets. Have fun walking to Carl's.

    And for Jeremy, who says Amp'd customers deserve what they got because they chose product from a low-cost provider...um...Amp'd had the highest ARPU in the industry. They were the most expensive cell phone carrier. Sure, those customers took a risk, but not because they were shopping in the bargain bin. But the Amp'd customers at least were given an official chance to port their numbers away.

    Bottom line: it may not be in their best interests, but it is the responsible thing for a bankrupt company to try to help the customers exit gracefully, if it can be done at low or no cost. Would it hurt so much to give 48 hours notice?

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous, Jul 24th, 2007 @ 7:35pm

    A Great Replacement for Sunrocket

    I switched from Sunrocket to IDT Net2phone. If you use your old Gizmo there are no sign up charges and with a rebate form and your old Sunrocket account information they will honor up to 12 months of your Sunrocket contract. They have great tech support and will hack your Sunrocket box and replace it with their firmware. They have you up and running in 10 minutes and the qulaity is great.

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    tisha tobin, Aug 21st, 2007 @ 12:53am

    As the matter of my business, I switched to Lingo when I heard about the SunRocket bad situation. Unlike SunRocket, it works really well. For my $49.95 Home Office 2000 Plan, I get more service than what I expect.

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    aziza, Nov 2nd, 2009 @ 5:58am

    by aziza

    this case is experience, so next time you will be experienced

     

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