How Your Vonage Service Fees Help Fund Spyware

from the another-bad-PR-day dept

Vonage has had a pretty bad couple of months. There was the botched IPO leading to plenty of pissed off shareholder customers, combined with a few new patent lawsuits. The stock hasn’t done well at all — something many predicted well before the IPO in the first place. Now, spyware researcher Ben Edelman has released his latest article, noting that Vonage ads seem to show up in an awful lot of spyware — including every one of the major spyware providers. And you wondered why the customer acquisition costs were so high? Now you know that a large chunk of that money was going directly into the bank accounts of some awfully questionable companies.

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Comments on “How Your Vonage Service Fees Help Fund Spyware”

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dorpus says:

Re: Re: And what about Skype? by whinus

So would it be ok if we lived in a world where child prostitutes offer their services internationally through VoIP? Should men be able to travel to Dubai to spend an evening with an 8-year-old boy, with the same ease as buying a candy bar at 7-11? How about phone sex services where adults beat the hell out of children for a small fee?

Louis says:

Re: Re:

What’s with the big words Louis? Trying to put yourself above everyone else? This is a blog last i checked, and unless we’re in Iraq, last i know this is a free country, and a free internet. So go troll some place else!

Big words, eh? If by “everone else” you imply yourself, then yes, and not much effort required there either. Second, not everybody lives in your free country, and for all you know I might as well be posting from Iraq, and this being a free internet and all I?m pretty much allowed to go trolling wherever I please. Third, and I?ll say this slowly so you?ll understand: ‘I’…is..spelled..with…a…capital…you…illiterate…fool.

That is all, thank you for playing, better luck next time.

R. Larson says:


This is about Vonage, which is a paid service, not Skype. Also, if anything that Louis said counts as a “big word” you need to go back to school.

I am a Vonage customer, and have been for a couple years now. I first heard about Vonage being in spyware last week, and frankly, it sickens me. My wife even recieved a Vonage spam a few weeks ago, but this was obviously from a customer using their referral link in the message to generate some free months of service.

The only way I think they’ll stop doing it is if enough customers call or write and voice their opinion. Also, I don’t see how anyone would sign up for something that comes to them via spyware, but obviously they do or companies would not use the ‘service’.

Vonage User says:


I think people who like AOL are likely to click and sign up for spam. being a vonage customer, I think I am going to send them a letter about my distaste for their using spyware. that really really sucks. I suppose there isnt much we can do about it other than let them know that people who invest in them are disgusted with them. perhaps if some shareholder expresses that they dont appreciate the spyware thing then vonage might be inclined to listen… but as it is I think vonage will continue doing it. if they do I think I am going to have to switch to some rip off of them who doesnt use spyware as a means of advertising.

Billgod says:

2 Year Vonage Vet

I have been on vonage for over 2 years now. Untill recently I have had no issues with them. Good service at a great price. Now I am being hit with “recovery fees” for their lawsuits and 911 implamentation. This sits kind of hard with me. I know its only .99 each but why the hell am I paying it. I signed up for 24.99 a month. Sometimes I am hitting almost 30 a month. Depending on what new fee they decide to come up with. Now giving a reach around to spyware guys. Thinking about pulling the plug is burried deep in my head. The only thing holding me back is all the bullshit SBC/AT&T have to offer me. I am not sure whats worse. The headache SBC will continue to provide me with or the stomach ache of knowing I am supplying my hard earned cash (that I make fighting spyware) on people who provide spyware.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: 2 Year Vonage Vet

I have had Vonage for about 8 months now, and up till recently I have been quite satisfied. I don’t like not having a Operator though, and I had a horrible encounter with 911. There was a car accident outside my house, so I called to report it.(I wanted to do it quickly because there are a lot of hit and runs in my area). I got a Vonage Operator asking me if I wanted Fire, Police or Hospital. I said Police, and then they transferred me. I was on hold for about 5mins, before getting another operator. I told them the story, and they said they had to transfer me to my State operator. I told him the story, and then he had to transfer me to my local 911 center. So now its been about 10mins. The people outside are almost leaving. The Real 911 operator asks me whats wrong, and I explain the problem and he asks me for personal info(Name/address/phone, etc) Well not only did the Vonage operator not give them this Info(even though its filed under my account 911 settings) but when the 911 operator asked for my phone number he broke in before I could answer and gave the WRONG number. Seems he thought the number of the first operator who transferred me was My number. When all was said and done, it took about 14mins before my problem was addressed. If it would have been me having a heart attack, or a violent crime, I would be dead.

Dam says:

Re: 2 Year Vonage Vet

Now I am being hit with “recovery fees” for their lawsuits and 911 implamentation. This sits kind of hard with me. I know its only .99 each but why the hell am I paying it. I signed up for 24.99 a month.

The fees are imposed by the Federal and State governements. The recovery fee has nothing to do with their lawsuits.

It was only a matter of time before the taxing authorities got their mitts on Vonage and other VoIP providers. If you don’t like it, call or write your Senator, Congressmen and local reps and tell ’em to keep their paws off your stash.

BillGod says:

Re: Re: 2 Year Vonage Vet

Vonage help section

Emergency 911 Cost Recovery of $0.99 applies to each line of service. This fee is used to recover costs directly associated with developing, implementing and maintaining a nationwide E911 in compliance with FCC regulations, Vonage 911 dialing and the Vonage national 911 emergency call center.

rwizard says:

Early Vonage Adopter

I am an early Vonage customer who has been happy with the service, running an adapter in my home, and the software on my Mac Powerbook. Recently I got a marketing call from Vonage “because I was such a loyal customer”. I told them the best way to lose that loyal customer was to make marketing calls bothering him.

I was wrong. Using spyware as a marketing tool was the best way to lose that customer, and having read the article, I will be researching what my next phone solution will be.

WirelessGuy says:

I would suggest Gizmo

The Gizmo project is pretty much the same as Skype, but not trying to make a profit any way it can. It doesn’t require the hardware the Vonage does.

$0.01 a minute for all US calls. Unlimited plans are really not unlimited if you read the fine print. The EULA will have something in there about reasonable calling patterns. You would have to use 2,500 minutes of calling to get to $25 and no regulatory recovery fees.

I am a fan of Gizmo, not a resale agent, so I would suggest checking it out. Usually get a few free minutes when you sign up.

Bill M. (profile) says:

It's not Vonage Corp

Vonage like many other internet services has a healthy referral and affiliate program. The ads you’re seeing in “spyware” are definitely not traceable from Vonage itself, but from people trying to make money reselling it. I suppose your next article will be an expose on “Rolex” (I get tons of spam mail for them). And oh yeah, should not the big pharma companies be held responsible for all the Cialis and Viagra spam I get?

JB says:

Other VOIP Service Providers

If you don’t like vonage because of their involvement in spyware advertising then you can always switch providers. The one truly great thing about a service offered through the internet is that there will always be a choice unlike our local service providers. I don’t like vonage either so I switched to packet 8. I haven’t had any hidden fees and the service is just as good.

Anonymous Coward says:

Bill M.

Vonage like many other internet services has a healthy referral and affiliate program. The ads you’re seeing in “spyware” are definitely not traceable from Vonage itself, but from people trying to make money reselling it. I suppose your next article will be an expose on “Rolex” (I get tons of spam mail for them). And oh yeah, should not the big pharma companies be held responsible for all the Cialis and Viagra spam I get?

Only one problem with your argument. The emails you get for your Rolex or Cialis and Viagra is not actually from those companies. If you click and buy those, you are not getting the real deal, and those companies are not profiting from it. With Vonage, you click on those to buy those services. Vonage can be blamed for using spyware as a marketing tool.

Bill M. (profile) says:

Re: It's Not Vonage

It’s a difference in delivery since you’re talking about physical goods (pills, watches) instead of a service.

Yes, you eventually reach the Vonage site to sign up for the service. However, Vonage can’t immediately tell whether the referral code you’re using is coming from your neighbor, a friend, Google Ads, or someone who has used adware/spyware to disseminate the referral code. In fact, I would not be surprised if Vonage disabled a referral code once it learns of any abuse, given their stated “zero tolerance” policy:


Zero Tolerance for Spam

Vonage has zero tolerance for spam. Spam complaints will be dealt with seriously and can result in losing Vonage privileges such as loss of referral credits and even loss of a customer’s account. If you receive spam and want to report it to Vonage, please forward the email you’ve received to


Basically what I am saying is that the middlemen are responsible in each instance of abuse. The pharma companies clearly make some profit via spam (because someone is resellling their product by illegitimate means). So unless businesses kill the reseller business model, you’re gonna have this problem.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: It's Not Vonage

Bill, not to beat a dead horse, but do you really think you are getting a Rolex for $10? Do you think you are getting the real deal, and that Rolex somehow benefits? As for the Spam Viagra, the spam you get isn’t from Canada, and you are not getting reimported drugs, you are getting sugar pills (if you are lucky) from some warehouse in Pakistan that has no actual active ingredient. The fact is, you are not getting the real product. With Vonage, you actually get their service.

You want to reduce spyware and adware, then hold the companies responsible for it to the fire.

anonymous coward says:

Sent to Vonage customer service

I have just found out about how Vonage supports spyware, malware, and spam thru its advertising budget.

This is completely unacceptable. If this process is not COMPLETELY eliminated within 60 days, I will begin a search for a new VoIP provider, probably my broadband provider Comcast.

If you would like to retain my business, please correct the unethical activities of your company and your contractors immediately. I enjoy your service, but there are many companies that offer VoIP without such offensive marketing strategies. I would hate to find out that your business is willing to use questionable, and in some cases, illegal, methods to promote itself.

I will be monitoring the website listed above and if it has not reported significant action on your part by 9/18/2006, I will transfer my account to another provider or you may contact me directly to report progress in this area.

Dr. Monica Whitty (user link) says:

survey on internet use at work

I’m interested in how people deal with spyware on their work pc and laptops. I’m looking for people to answer my survey and any comments they might have. Anyone interested, the survey takes about 5 minutes and details are on the webpage.

The results of the study will be published in about Nov/Dec 2005 on my website:

Please email me with any questions and ask your friends, family, and colleagues to answer the survey too!

Kind Regards,

Dr. Whitty

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