The State of Vermont will receive $45,000 as part of a multistate settlement with Vonage, one of the nation's largest providers of the internet-based phone service called Voice over Internet Protocol. The settlement requires Vonage to refund eligible consumers and change its marketing practices and treatment of cancellation requests.
Since its inception, Vonage has offered consumers some form of a reduced price or free trial period. Its marketing materials included phrases such as "try one month free" and a risk-free trial period. These terms, however, were not accompanied by sufficient disclosures. Many consumers were charged activation fees, taxes, regulatory fees, and 911 fees that were not clearly disclosed.
"A trial period needs to be a trial period," said Attorney General Bill Sorrell. "Especially with new technologies, consumers need clear information up front and the ability to cancel. Vonage failed on both fronts. Now, the company will refund Vermont consumers and honor their decisions to cancel the service if they so choose."
Today's settlement contains a broad restitution plan requiring VONAGE to make refunds to eligible consumers with unresolved complaints of unauthorized charges from January 2004 to March 16, 2010.
To date, the Vermont Attorney General's Office has received over seventy complaints against Vonage. To request a refund under the settlement, consumers should fill out the Vonage Refund Request Form available on the Attorney General's website at: www.atg.state.vt.us/ and return it to the Consumer Assistance Program at the address provided.
For more information about filing for a refund, contact Vermont's Consumer Assistance Program at 656-3183 or firstname.lastname@example.org.