According to the FTC, the company made it easy for customers to sign up for phone plans but difficult to cancel.
“Customers often had to contact Vonage multiple times, speak to multiple agents, and listen to multiple sales pitches before they could cancel their service,” said the FTC, which sued the company last year. “Customers that succeeded in canceling were sometimes charged unexpected fees or had additional charges added to their accounts without their permission.”
Those so-called surprise “junk fees” totaled hundreds of dollars in some cases, the FTC said.
Under a settlement, Vonage has agreed to take several steps, which include providing the refunds, making it easy for customers to cancel, and stopping the practice of charging customers without their consent.
“Vonage used dark patterns to make it difficult for consumers to cancel their service and often continued to illegally charge them even after they spoke to an agent directly and requested cancellation,” the FTC said in its November 2022 complaint.
The agency charged, for example, that — although the company allowed customers to sign up for services online, over the phone and through other channels — it created “significant cancellation hurdles” including by not consistently transferring customers to the right number for cancellations, reducing the number of hours the line was available and failing to provide promised callbacks.
How to get your refund
The FTC said it is now sending payments to 389,106 customers impacted by Vonage’s practices.
Most people will get a check in the mail, which they should cash within 90 days, the agency said. Eligible customers without an address on file with the FTC will receive a payment via PayPal, which should be redeemed within 30 days, it added.
For questions regarding the refund payments, the FTC said to contact refund administrator Epiq, at 1-877-525-4728 or visit the FTC’s website. The agency noted that it will never require people to pay money or provide account information to get a refund.
Joey Solitro is a freelance financial journalist at Kiplinger with more than a decade of experience. A longtime equity analyst, Joey has covered a range of industries for media outlets including The Motley Fool, Seeking Alpha, Market Realist, and TipRanks. Joey holds a bachelor's degree in business administration.
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