Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish

Texas sues Vonage over emergency service

Filed under
Sci/Tech
Legal

Abbott's lawsuit, filed in the District Court of Travis Country, Texas, accuses Vonage of deceptive marketing practices by not making it clear to customers that they must sign up separately for 911 service, instead of it being automatically part of the Vonage VoIP offering.

In an announcement about the lawsuit, Abbott cited a February incident in Houston in which a family with Vonage service couldn't get through to 911 dispatchers. Joyce John tried to dial 911 from a VoIP phone in her home as burglars broke into the house and shot and wounded her parents.

John's call to 911 connected to a recording saying she would have to dial 911 from a different phone. She eventually contacted authorities from a neighbor's house. “This Houston family’s moment of crisis signals a dire need for Vonage to clearly communicate to its Internet telephone customers that 911 access may not be available to them,” Abbott said in a statement. “This is not just about bad customer service; it’s a matter of life and death.”

A Vonage spokeswoman said the company would welcome a dialog with Abbott on how to improve its 911 service. Vonage customers are told multiple times, including twice during the subscription process, that they need to take action to sign up for 911 service, added Brooke Schulz, senior vice president of corporate communications for Vonage. Vonage warns customers on their dashboard online account summary that they have not signed up for 911 service, and Vonage sends e-mail to customers who have not activated 911 service, Schulz said.

The company also tells customers on its Web site's features page that they must pre-activate 911 service, although the company also notes that "Vonage offers 911 dialing to all customers."
"We want to work with the attorney general's office to resolve his concerns," Schulz said. "We do all these things today, and if those aren't adequate, let's talk about it."

The lawsuit, filed under the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act, requests the court issue an injunction stopping Vonage from "misrepresenting" the type of emergency telephone service it offers, according to a press release from Abbott. The suit seeks $20,000 per violation.

Because VoIP services route 911 calls through IP networks instead of the traditional telephone network, VoIP 911 service doesn't work the same way as traditional 911 service. Dispatch centers aren't able to pinpoint the address where the VoIP call originated, unlike enhanced 911 service available with most traditional telephone service today.

Vonage on March 7 reported it had exceeded 500,000 total phone lines on its network, and it was signing up customers at a rate of 15,000 lines per week.

Source.

More in Tux Machines

Canonical Reveals the Hardware Specs of the Ubuntu Aquarius E4.5 Phone

In the meantime, even if Meizu was the first company to confirm the release of an Ubuntu phone, it looks like Bq beat them to the punch, although they are aiming at different users. The specs detailed by Canonical show that Aquarius E4.5 is an affordable device with medium hardware specs. It doesn't seem like much, but it's addressed at people who don't want to spend too much on a high-end phone, but still want to own a smartphone. Read more

Scalable open virtual networking with MidoNet

Networking is an important part of any modern datacenter. As open source continues to grow in virtualization solutions, virtualized networking is an important part of the picture. MidoNet, an open source network virtualization platform for Infrastructure-as-a-serivice (IaaS) clouds like OpenStack cloud software, is gaining traction as a way to implement networking solutions. Read more

An Outsider’s Perspective on Windows 10 Preview

Long story short, Windows 10 feels like a beta for an early version of Android, a consumer operating system that is designed to be on-line all the time. It does not feel like an operating system I would use to get work done. In fact, other than watching movies, browsing the web or listening to music, I don’t think I would find Windows 10 particularly useful. At least not without the on-line account stuff being removed and the package manager(s) fixed. Forcing users to sign up for an on-line account is a sure way to tell us privacy is not a concern and the alternative, downloading applications from the web, is a sure way to introduce malware. Read more Also: Windows vs Linux: The 2015 Version Windows 10 versus Linux

Break away from free cloud storage providers by using ownCloud

With these concerns in mind, users looking outside of the traditional channels for cloud storage services have an easily available option: the ownCloud open-source software package. Being open source, ownCloud is free to run on your server, though the commercial arm of the organization does provide cloud storage as a service. Naturally, installing ownCloud does require a server -- either on premises or leased from a data center -- in order to operate. Read more