The state is now taking legal action against Vonage, the Internet phone service NewsChannel 11 first told you about last month. If you will recall, a Houston family could not reach 9-1-1 during a life and death situation because the company failed to mention 9-1-1 needed to be activated by the customer in order for it to work. One Vonage customers believes the lawsuit may change the way Vonage is doing, what the state calls, "bad business."
A Vonage commercial that tells a customer you can save money on your phone bill would convince just about anyone to try the cheaper service. But if you have seen the ads on television and try to read the fine print, nothing is said about 9-1-1.
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Texas says this ad is deceptive to consumers because it doesn't tell you the whole truth about its service. "What Vonage doesn't tell you is the service consumers do get is not going to plug them in to this life saving service," said Greg Abbott, Texas Attorney General.
This lawsuit comes after a Houston family was not able to get a hold of a 9-1-1 dispatcher after family members were shot by an intruder. When she called, she heard this..."you must call 9-1-1 from another phone. 9-1-1 is not available from this phone."
The family found out later their phone service never had 9-1-1.
Abbott announced Tuesday the state is suing the New Jersey based broadband Internet phone company, for violating the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act. The company faces a fine of up to $100,000.
Bill Curnow is a Vonage customer in Lubbock and knew he had to activate his 9-1-1 when he purchased the service. But he does agree the Vonage ads are deceptive. He says even if you are looking for the 9-1-1 information, it is buried in all the paper work which he says may change as a result of this lawsuit. "The other thing I might expect to see is in the welcome package. Maybe a large insert that talks specifically of the limitations of 9-1-1 and what hoops you have to jump through to get that set up," said Curnow.
We spoke with a local 911 representative and he says the National Emergency Number Association and other entities are looking into ways on how this new broadband Internet phone service can be improved, particularly it's 9-1-1 service.
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