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Friday, January 8, 2010

Fashion Friday and an important question that has nothing to do with fashion

The girls and I accompanied TubaDad to the outlets so he could buy a few work shirts and still get in some quality girl time. And while we were there, Ro and Ree found some cheery accessories they liked as well. So here's the Fashion Friday picture in the outfits they picked out with their fancy new crown headbands and jewelry.
DSC_0016LRs

Ree is in the purple, and Ro is in the green, and she's wearing some of her bracelets up around her t-shirt cuffs. I'd have to go back to my archives to check, but I think they've switched who is the bolder fashion one. Wasn't Ree the one who used to put together the crazy outfits while Ro was a little more tame and matchy? Well Ro seems to be the wild one lately (fashion wise).

The important question that has absolutely nothing to do with fashion:
DSC_0077LRsTubaDad had to go to Fry's Electronics to get me a new keyboard tray (Ro broke the old one clean off)(yes the girls are slowly destroying our house day by day). Anyhow, while he was there this Vonage phone thing caught his eye. He says it's basically a phone system that uses the internet instead of your phone lines. Start-up is free since you can get a rebate for the purchase cost, and then there's a monthly fee of $24.99 which includes unlimited calling (local, long-distance, or international). We've been paying about a hundred dollars a month for phone service, a whole bunch of that for basic service stuff and essentially-local-but-still-billed-at-long-distance calls (which really chaps my hide).

So: Has anyone used Vonage or do you know anyone who has used it? Happy? Unhappy? Any feedback or gotchas? TubaDad was trying to research it, and I said "Well shoot, I'll just ask on the blog. You know we'll get some great comments about it!" Speaking of which, one of my favorite ones lately was Twinkletoes' comment on the New Year's Eve party post where she said "...sometimes the mess is worth the memory!" Amen.

58 comments:

  1. Don't know a thing about Vonage, but it seems like you should at least research your phone bill! If you have high-speed cable (like Comcast), you can get your phone service via cable with unlimited calls for about half of what you're paying I think. I know that we get our basic extended cable, unlimited phone, and Internet access for about $165 a month from Comcast.

    P.S. Love the Friday outfits this week!

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  2. Oh, and that cable fee is about 200 channels, with HD and a cable-supplied DVR.

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  3. My friends have liked Vonage, but I have read great reviews about the Magic Jack.

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  4. I've had vonage in the past. We had trouble with them and our internet. If cable went out, we had no phone at home. Vonage customer service was a pain then too. It's probably been 4 years so things may have changed but for us it was terrible. Many times my family would tell me when I called them they couldn't hear me or lots of noise in it. We even got new phoens and tried that. Hopefully in four years though it's gotten better.

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  5. We have Vonage and so does my mom and we've never had an issue with it. You can't beat the price!! I have a lot of family out of state so the long distance gets expensive, but with Vonage, no sweat!! The only disadvantage is like someone else said...if you lose the internet, you lose your phone. It also doesn't do 911 the same way. Not sure if that's important but you might look into it. In the long run, we love it and it has saved us a fortune!!

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  6. We have had Vonage for about three years and in two different areas. It is much better where we live now and we have not experienced major problems. Like others stated, no Internet means no phone. We actually took our box to China. No idea why my husband decided to do that. He did end up frying the box due to the voltage, but that is our bad. :)

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  7. I used to work as a telephone nurse educatore and we always knew when someone had Vonage because their connection was horrible-static and difficult to hear. Whenver you would ask them about the connection the answer was always "oh, I have Vonage" and that said it all. MY FIL has the magic jack and likes it, but I don't know how high his standards are for phone service....lol

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  8. I had a TERRIBLE customer service experience with Vonage. Their call centers are in some other country and I spent ages on hold with them, they had a hard time understanding my English, and I was transferred multiple time just while trying to to sign up for their service. I was so frustrated by the end of it and no longer had any faith in their service that I cancelled. That was a gong show too with them transferring me multiple times to customer service in the US, even though I told them I was in Canada. That reminds me, I have to check if they refunded me the deposit they owe me. Even if they didn't, I'm not sure I want to experience calling their customer service line EVER again.

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  9. We had vonage when we lived in Japan and it was wonderful. We got it to have an American number and not have to pay any long distance fees. We had a slower internet connection and never had any connection problems.

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  10. AnnD in Ottawa1/08/2010

    Wish I could comment on Vontage -not yet available in Canada where we are completely envious of options in the States. I am sure Catherine would agree what is available here is the pits.

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  11. A friend of mine had vonage. I hated talking to her, it sounded like she was in a tunnel.

    OTOH I am sure I talk to people on vonage every day but I am unaware they are using vonage.

    Have you ever considered spending the money to upgrade your cell phone plans and go wireless only?

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  12. We have had vonage for almost a year now and have had no problems with the service. It's automatically debited from our account, so we dont have to worry about the bill, the service is good, decent quality.

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  13. Anonymous1/08/2010

    Hi!
    I HIGHLY recommend that you guys look into Ooma. We just made the switch a couple months ago, and have had ZERO problems. It costs the price of the unit, (which we got a super deal on) and then NO monthly charges, unless you want extras.
    It uses the internet, but unlike some others you don't need the computer turned on, or anything... Sound has been great, nobody can tell. The one tiny thing is on occasion I get a bit of echo, but it goes away in a few secs. We get free long distance, free local, anywhere in US. Of course, calling other countries there are other charges.
    You can email me or just look it up online. We are thrilled and love not having ANY phone bill. (no random govt. charges, etc)

    Gee, I sound like an infomercial! Just, research it and see if it fits your needs.

    Becky
    www.carlsencrew.com

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  14. We have Vonage and we love it! If our internet goes out, so does the phone, but that's not really a problem because our internet service is quite reliable and if we absolutely had to make a call, we have cell phones too. Love the $$ savings every month!

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  15. We have Vonage and have had it for at least 3 years now. No complaints. Only issue we've ever had is that if the internet/power goes out, we don't have a land line.

    You can check your VM online from anywhere and we've only ever had it be the $24. Long distance to anywhere in the USA is included.

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  16. The girls certainly have an eye for accessories.....SWEET!!! They look thrilled with their new jewels:)

    It seems you have some mixed feedback on Vonage...... I don't use it at home, but do for work......I think it is great and have had other friends who use it and absolutley love it. I am guessing that your internet provider is key to the overall service....that might be where others are dissatisfied. You will have to give us your review:)

    Happy Weekend!

    Lisa

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  17. Anonymous1/09/2010

    I have been reading your blog for a long time. Your girls make me long for the days when my children were 4!
    I have never used vonage but was staying at a friends home who had cable phone service when there was a fire which instantly made the cable and electricity go out. I was unable to call 911 from the house as my cell phone was near the location of the fire.
    Just something to think about!

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  18. DO NOT GET VONAGE!!! We had a horrible experience with phone calls every 90 seconds for days!!! and we had to take the phone off the hook. We had the police involved and they finally tracked down the number to a mortgage rep who work from home. He purchased Vonage becasue the of the cost and called us once, but the system kept automatically dailing out numbers without his knowledge. The embarassment that he felt and the major damage to us not having a house phone, as I telecomute and work from home, was huge. The police told us that they get many complaints n regards to Vonage. It's cheep for a reason. Hope this helps.. The girls look great. I can't believe how big they are getting!! Happy New Year- Mary Carol

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  19. At one time 911 couldn't locate incoming callers that were using VOIP call services. Personally, I've never heard anything good about Vonage other than the price. We rolled all of our services to our cable company. The cost for our land line dropped by over 50%. The larger bonus came when the cable company included a 4hour battery back-up in case of power failure. For international calls we still use SKYPE and I don't see us changing that anytime soon. For 10 bucks a month you can use an insane amount of minutes to any country in the world... Just my two cents

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  20. I wouldn't go with something connected to cable or the internet simply because when there's an outage, your phone won't work.

    We got rid of our land line and instead added a 3rd cell phone to our package and transferred our existing home number to it. It's only $19 to add on an extra cell phone.

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  21. Broter had one. We los power to a wind storm- power was out for up to 5 days in areas. he had no phone until the 5th day.

    Definitely you would want either a cell phone or a landline that it tied to 911 only - just in case.

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  22. My cousin used vonage and finally got rid of it. We couldn't ever hear him when he called.

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  23. I've never commented on your blog, but this time I just HAD to. We had Vonage and had horrible problems. Vonage would blame them on our internet service provide, and our ISP would blame Vonage. It was a vicious battle, where we rarely had good phone service!

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  24. Melissa G1/09/2010

    We had Vonage for a few yrs before we moved & it workedd great as long as you had internet & power. The only issue I had was w/ their customer service dept, the call center is routed over seas & can be difficult to deal w/ but the service was fine & no differant from our old verizon service. We now have magic jack, the service is not as clear as Vonage but I can deal w/ it for the price. Like you I can not stand what they gat away w/ charging you for phone service! Good luck let us know what you decide!

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  25. My sister lives in The Netherlands and has had Vonnage for nearly 4 years-it's been great! She chose a phone number with a local area code to me and we speak on the phone almost daily-no charge. The only time they've had problems is when my BiL forgets to pay for their internet. Grrrr.

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  26. We just use our cell phones for long distance. WE have a pretty big # minutes on our plan so use it for all long distance.
    Land line phone is only for basic local calls. I've thought about getting rid of it, BUT if our cell towers went out or our cell phones were out, we would be out of luck. We might eventually get rid of call waiting and the coller ID, but I have always felt we need a basic land line. Also, some may not think of it, but you should always have one phone that is corded in case power goes out. I keep one in our bedroom with a cord in case of emergencies in the middle of night with no power.
    As for Magic Jack, my DH went to Nicaraugua this past summer for missions and they use MagicJack there. Used a regular phone number on the caller ID when he called and it sounded fine to me.

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  27. I have never commented on your blog before either, but I felt I had to tell you our experiences with Vonage. We actually tried it twice (against my husband's wishes - but I was swayed by the cheap price and better technology).
    We always had static on the line and couldn't hear the calls very well. Additionally, the second time we tried it, I could never get the internet connection to work with the wireless router. People could call us, that wasn't the problem, but I could never get on the internet without constantly rebooting the system. It got to be a real hassle. We personally will never use any internet connection for a phone line again.
    We were also told by our alarm company that they recommend a land line for the service - just an FYI.
    Another thing to think about as well as what has been mentioned before is that these calls are not secured - so you have to be careful about what you say on your phone calls.
    I hope this helps you make your decision.

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  28. We have Magic Jack and from what I hear it is the same as Vonage. Magic Jack is a lot cheaper it is $50 a year.
    It is great for Cheap phone service. Issues I have with it...
    If you little one turns off your computer and you don't know about it you don't have a phone.
    They have crappy customer service and no way to get a hold of a live person. (at least this is how it was about a year and a half ago) We have had the service for 2 years and haven't had any issues in a year and a half so haven't had to call)
    When we first got it there was a little thing that popped up when someone would call and it bugged me and also it is always on the bottom of the screen like an open program. My husband was able to fix that now though so I never see it and it doesn't bug me anymore.
    I think Magic Jack is worth a shot to see if it works for your house. Spending $50 to see if you can lower your phone bill by so much is totally worth it.
    Sorry this is so spastic... my son is having all sorts of sleep issues and neither one of us have slept much at all this week.

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  29. I have been reading some of the comments and I just wanted to add one thing, the service you get really depends on your internet connection. At our last house we had better internet... it always stayed connected and our line didn't have static. At our new place the internet is horrible. We have lived here less than a year and Time Warner has had to come out here at least 10 times and has even redone the lines.
    As long as you have good internet you shouldn't have problems with static or tunnel feeling. Like I said it is worth the investment to see if it works for you.

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  30. I've never personally used Vonage, however, I know friends who have and had nothing but problems with it. When their internet went out, their phone went out. The customer service was crap and I heard that it was really hard to understand and hear people sometimes. (For example, if there was a storm and the internet was slower, their phones were crappy.)

    I would call your phone company and research your bill better. There's no way your bill should be that much. I have unlimited local, long distance, internet and t.v. (plus HD channels, 2 DVR boxes and a few movie channels) all for roughly around 100 dollars a month.

    Good luck!

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  31. I used to work for PacBell / SBC / ATT or whatever their name is now. You have to think in terms of PACKET SWITCHING. Vonage is nothing more than VOICE OVER IP, or VOIP. Vonage does in the "last mile" what the phone companies already to over the Internet in their exchange cables or cables/routers to the Internet.

    If you can download streaming music or streaming movies, then you ought to be able to do Vonage with no problem. Like the others said, you lose cable/internet and or power (battery backup is pretty cheap) then you would lose your phone.

    Here is an idea that we do in my home. Maintain your wired connection at the cheapest pay as you go rate. With taxes etc, it is only $13 per month. Then have everything over the cell phones. My girls are a year older than yours and we are keeping the land line because they have learned how to dial 911 for emergencies and for the alarm.

    In the event of a major catastrophy, (earthquake) the phone line generates its own battery service and you will get dialtone without having power, provided the phone lines are not damaged between the central office and your home.

    Good luck!

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  32. Know about a dozen folks that use vonage and we use our internet phone provided by time warner. it rocks, easy and cheap. Go for it.

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  33. Don't do it Tuba Dad!!!! Step slowly away from the Vonage. Really it will eat your brains if you let it.
    We tried this a couple of years ago. NEVER got it to work. Well ONE day it worked but the reception was so static-y that well, it didn't actually work. We never EVER got a service rep that could speak any resemblance of any known language. Ot maybe they were speakign some Earth language but it was all so full of staic and interferance that it sounded like they were calling from Alph Centari. We were out over $300 in the end.
    Like I say, back away from the Vonage. I have a better idea, you could take $350 and say...set it on fire then you could spend the dough but not get so frustrated that you consider psychotherapy and perhaps a kick in the pants.
    What I see in your comment section is very typical in Vonage conversations, some will LOVE it and have GREAT service, others have the same experience that we had. It seems to be a hit or miss kind of thing.

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  34. Thanks for all the feedback - there are a couple of things to consider.

    1) We have a smokin' fast DSL line (6 Mbps downstream, 768 Kbps upstream) that is very reliable.

    2) I have a good grasp on networking and technology, and have a pretty good understanding of VoIP. I'm comfortable tweaking things.

    Thanks for all of the comments - keep them coming! This really is a mixed bag. Some folks love it, some hate it. That makes it challenging to make a decision!

    TubaDad

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  35. Courtney in Crete1/09/2010

    We have vonage and love it! We got it when we lived in a 100 year old house in KY and had terrible quality land lines. Finally we gave up and got Vonage and never had a problem. You can call 911 from it - you just have to set up the service when you first get Vonage.

    Three years ago we moved abroad and thanks to vonage, we still have a US number so our relatives can call us fairly cheaply. We mostly use Skype, but it's still nice to have a US phone (except when not-local-anymore charities in Louisville call us in the middle of the night). Before Skype, a friend who travels internationally a lot would take his vonage modem with him so he could still make local calls from Europe, but obviously Skype has made that a non-issue.

    Go vonage!

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  36. I have Vonage and love it! The sound is clear, it's easy to hook up (and if I can do it, anyone can!). It doesn't mess with my wifi or my computer when I'm on the net. I also LOVE the fact that i get emails when I get a voicemail and since I have my emails coming to my blackberry I can check my voicemails from the road. So, I'm on the "jump on the vonage wagon" gal! :)

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  37. Courtney in Crete1/09/2010

    Oh, I just thought of a negative: I can't upload photos or video while the phone is being used. That could just be a reflection on our crappy Greek internet, though. We aren't big phone users though, so it's not often a problem.

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  38. I know someone who used it a few years ago and did not like it at ALL. Thanks might have changed and we are in a different area.

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  39. We have Magic Jack and LOVE it. My friends can't believe I am not on a regular phone line. Can't comment on customer service- I have done everything online. We bought it in 2008 after Thanksgiving at Radio Shack, it was a Black Friday deal only $30 and had one year free. I figured it was worth the "risk".

    As far as 911 I entered our address online- so it should work. Can't say I have ever had to call 911 (Thank God!). Also, you can take the Magic Jack with you when you travel and you just brought your home phone number with you!

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  40. I use Google Voice for all our long distance calls. You use your home phone but all the calls are routed through Google and FREE!!! So we only pay $12 a month for phone service. Can I get a what what?!

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  41. I hate getting calls from people using VoIP services. There are always weird artifacts, either sound cutting in and out or a noticeable delay. Note that the phone services provided directly by cable companies usually don't actually use VoIP and may not be as bad.

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  42. We have Vonage and love it. Since we're Canadian living in California we would have a lot of long distance phone calls, but with Vonage we don't! It's wonderful. My husband has had it since he lived in Seattle, then when he was in Calgary and now here in the Bay Area, we have numbers for all 3 places, so friends and family can make local calls which will save them money also.
    And we have a plan on it which allows us really cheap international calls too since some of my family lives in New Zealand.
    So overall Vonage is great!

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  43. Oh for power going out (which I've found to be rare down here) we have cell phones with Google voice so we're covered on that too. I guess we're pretty connected. heh.

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  44. We looked into Vonage, but fell head over heels in love with the Ooma system, we got it at Costco.

    One time fee to purchase and no phone bill ever again, including free long distance and caller id. It also goes through the internet. There's also a nifty little way to blacklist all calls you don't want to take....not that I'd do that or anything;0)

    My neighbors had Vonage, but switched to Ooma because it also had a better international rate.

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  45. We've had Vonage for about 4 years without any trouble. It has gone out a couple of times when we were without power or cable or something, but we had out cell phones and it came on within a couple of hours.

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  46. Vonage was ok. Now we have magicjack = $20 a year!!!!!

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  47. We've had Vonage for years and have loved it, minsor customer service issues notwithstanding - but we'll be changing service to Verizon (Fios) next week and dropping the Vonage in favor of a true home land line.

    Main reason: 911

    WIth Vonage you don't have the automatic connection with 911 the way you do with a dedicated phone line. This means that you need to be able to give them an address to get a fast response (although I imagine they could track you down eventually if you couldn't). With a little one I'm just not willing to continue to risk it in case she needed to call 911 or we needed them in a true emergency.

    My feelings on this all came about due to a friend who was murdered in the front foyer of his home by an intruder. He bled to death while on the cell phone with 911. They couldn't pinpoint his location near enough to send help and he was unable to give his address. I will always have a land line because of this.

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  48. I know nothing on the phone. Sorry! I do know, that the girls are darling and they have great taste!!!! Did you guys feel any of the shaking that was going on in your state? Hope we were all okay. We left San Diego the day after they felt that one.
    Love Fashion Fridays! Keep them up in 2010. To bad I couldn't come up with a cute ryhme for my request. Its late.

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  49. NO Vonage .. teehee !

    That's my vote. I am from Canada and a 9-1-1 dispatcher and I cannot tell you the minutes lost while Voip services are trying to connect with us over their sometimes fuzzy phone lines, then relay the info (often incorrect). Also if you move and do not update your address (your responsibility) as well..the voip system is only as good as your updates on personal info. I took a short course on the technical side of it and voip systems cannot translate many many background noises, such as a gunshot (sounds more like a soft door closing) a baby crying (wont recognize "animal sounds") among other things that it cuts out of it doesnt "Sound" human, even whispering.

    I guess my point is. If you arent planning on having a backup 911 option (cheap landline) then you need to be aware of the complications we have in the centre with voip callers.

    Good luck with your decision !

    Your girls as always are completely adorable !

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  50. I use Vonage for home/work. It is good, reliable, and cheap. I would recommend it.

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  51. We've had Vonage for years and have had minimal issues with it. I can't remember any time our internet has been out - it's always been power, if anything. If your power fails, a battery backup on your computer with outlets for all to plug into will allow you to make calls with a corded phone that is plugged into the Vonage unit as long as the power supply isn't dead. For any issue we've ever had, our cell phone did what we needed it to. If I'm not mistaken, if you have a regular phone plugged into your home wall jack, it should dial 911...at least where we are in NC that's the way it works. We have a phone plugged in that has a dial tone, but no calls other than to 911.

    Their customer service isn't all that stellar, but I kinda think of it as I'm getting what I pay for. Any issues we have had have been resolved without major issues.

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  52. Doesn't the phone company love to stick it to us when we live in a metro area? I HATE it when they tell me to call the next town (15 minutes away) is long distance. Such a bunch of bologna. Heck, we even got a "metro" line for twice the price, and we STILL can't call most of the area. gggrrr... so we switched back to the cheap version, but had to change our phone number. Ridiculous.

    We just have basic phone and use our cell phone for anything not considered "local". But it all still irritates the ba-gee-bees out of me. Highway robbery if you ask me!!!

    Good luck with whatever you decide!!!

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  53. Anonymous1/10/2010

    Don't know about Vonage, but we have Comcast Digital Voice which works well for us. The only downside is when the power and/or cable is out so is the phone. But that hardly ever happens where we live. Long distance is included and we pay right around $100 per month for all three. Elaine

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  54. Laurie1/10/2010

    We have Vonage & it's OK. We have alot of static at times or the calls seem to sometime echo. It's more difficult to use with our TiVo. The cost is right however.

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  55. I have AT&T U-verse - a VOIP product. An upgrade in the area fried the refurbished router that I was provided, so phone/internet/tv out for 3 days at home until the service call arrived.

    My suggestion if you decide to switch would be to investigate keeping a land line with VERY basic service for 911 line - essentially a "bat phone" ;) I didn't realize that was an option -I just went for the "bundle" (FYI - about $105/month promotional rate for all 3). When the promotion period is over I'll get my land line back and leave internet and TV on U-Verse. It's just too unnerving to know I'll lose everything during a storm or emergency.

    All the best. I LOVE the new header picture!! Enjoy 2010.

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  56. We used Vonage and it never worked. We could not make or get calls at home. We called the company many times and they said over and over that they fixed the problem but the phone never worked. We totally hated it and cancelled after a few months of running around with the tech support people.

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  57. We moved to FL 5 years ago and got Vonage then...it's great, we love it, wouldn't think of ever changing back. One of the best parts is we have a "local to NC" number for our family back home to use to call us and it's free for them.
    Hope that helps!
    Donna
    www.handsful.com

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  58. Just wanted to note that Vonage is available in Canada (http://www.vonage.ca/). We've had it for over four years and have been quite happy. I love the feature where you can get phone messages emailed to you.

    We took the Vonage unit to China for our first adoption trip and were able to make "local" calls to family in Canada with it.

    As everyone else says, it's only as reliable as your Internet service, but if you have an in-house geek (as I do) then you shouldn't have any problems trouble-shooting the system.

    Our Internet comes over the phone line so we have a dry-loop from the phone company (i.e. no phone service, just Internet).

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