Sunrocket robbed me!

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Well it appears that I have no phone service because on Monday Sunrocket an internet phone company decided they no longer want to be in business. See this NY Times article. I had paid a years subscription in February and thought all was fine, I had not heard any news that they were in trouble, I never experienced any real problems with the service.

I had their service since February 2006 and was very happy. They offered a whole year of calling using VOIP for $199.00, how can you beat that? Well it looks like they couldn’t offer that plan because they decided to abruptly close their doors. According to one story I read they just cut everyones service and put a cardboard sign on their headquarters saying “Out of business”.

Can you imagine? A company with over 200,000 customers just decides to quit! There was no warning, no email, no newsletter, no nothing! They just pulled the plug and left all of us hanging without a phone. Also what about the remaining balance on my account? Remember I paid until February 2008! WHERE IS MY MONEY!!!!!!!

I did a search around and found this interesting blog post by a former employee Sunrocket turns Scud Missile, this post was great at berating the management of Sunrocket but gave no information as to our (customers) recourse against them (Sunrocket). Until I read the following post:

Jon Rochetti said…

Get the legal system and government involved.

File a complaint with the FCC at:
http://svartifoss2.fcc.gov/cib/fcc475.cfm

Mention something like:

SunRocket, a VoIP telephone provider based in Vienna, VA disconnected my prepaid telephone and E-911 service on July 17, 2007 without ANY required advanced customer notification or alternative service options, leaving me at significant risk without 911 capabilities. The company’s executives should be arrested and jailed for putting approximately 160,000 households at such risk.

Also contact your local Attorney General and demand that the executives that made the decision to leave customers without phone service and E-911 service be arrested for public endangerment.”

Now after reading all this, I finally get an email from Sunrocket tonight Thursday July 19, 2007 (a little late don’t ya think?) stating the following:

“Dear Customers,

After significant effort by the Company to avoid this result, SunRocket is in the process of closing its operations and therefore will no longer be able to provide you with the phone service that you have been accustomed to. However, this email provides you with an opportunity to sign up with select service providers who we believe will offer outstanding replacement service

In order to assist you, we have entered into negotiations with a number of service providers. As a result of those negotiations, we have entered into agreements with 8×8, Inc., provider of the Packet8 service, and Unified Communications Corp., provider of Teleband service to offer you the best options and we are proud to recommend the following alternatives to you. Please make your decision to move to a new service provides immediately as future service is uncertain.

8×8/Packet8

The Packet8 Internet phone service incorporates patent protected technology from 8×8. Inc., a publicly traded company in business for more than 20 years. The service works in the same way as SunRocket.s and offers a virtually identical feature set.

. No Startup Costs
. FREE activation
. FREE equipment
. FREE shipping
. FREE first month of service
. Quickly port your number at no charge

A Savings of over $100!

Copy and paste the following link into your Internet browser: http://getpacket8.packet8.net/sunrocket/ or call 1-800-868-0068 and mention special offer code SUNROCKET

Unified Communications Corp./TeleBlend

The TeleBlend Internet phone service incorporates patent-protected technology from Unified Communications Corp., a privately held company in business to provide outstanding customer service and telephony products. Teleblends has been working behind the scenes already to restore and continue service for all Sun Rocket customers The service works in the same way as SunRocket.s and offers an identical feature set with our Unlimited Transfer Plan.
. No Startup Costs
. FREE activation
. USE your existing hardware
. FREE and Quick transfer of your current number
. No Need to port your number to another provider
. UNLIMITED calling to the US, Canada, and Puerto Rico

Copy and paste the following link into your Internet browser: http://www.myteleblend.net

It has been our pleasure to service you at SunRocket!”

Who wrote this email? Do they even know how to spell check? I mean come on!!!!!!

So now I go and check out the two companies that I was told could help and it seem like Teleblend can take my existing phone number, adapter and make my phone work right away?! However, I will have to pay for the new service at $12.95 a month from now on until my contract with SunRocket expires in February 2008.

Well I did decide to checkout what Teleblend wanted me to do and I read everything they had on their site. I decided that I would like my phone to work again with my existing number that I have had forever (I ported it to SunRocket originally). So I signed up and agreed to pay the $12.95 monthly. I was told that I would receive an email when my phone service was activated again. Well guess what? My service was working within 15 minutes from the time I submitted my payment.

Doesn’t this seem fishy to you? How can they take SunRockets customers using the Sunrocket gizmo/adapter and turn them right back on? Could it be SunRocket is really behind this new company? Did the new company buy the assets of SunRocket? Someone please clarify!

Well atleast my phone is working again, except there is no voicemail as of yet.

I will update this post if there are any new issues that arise.

:)


( If you are reading this anywhere but my blog, you can find the original post here. )

27 thoughts on “Sunrocket robbed me!

  1. The money isn’t really gone down the drain, credit card companies are giving back the money the moment people are mentioning SunRocket. I got my money back…

  2. I thought it would be too late to try and dispute the charge since I paid back in February. I will give it a shot and see what happens. Thanks for letting me know…

  3. It’s not all that fishy. SR is getting a fee for each new customer Teleblend and the awfully named Rocket8 bring over. In exchange the two companies have unfettered access to the accounts for quick transition. The intercompatibility of their systems adds to this ease. However, I am jealous that you’re already up and running and I am not… yet. I did unlock my inno and got it all ready for either allo or VT, so I did screw with all of my settings.

    Any chance you could shoot me the SIP and proxy info you got in case I don’t hear back from them soon?

    Thanks Phil

  4. Hey Mike,

    I didn’t get anything from Teleblend yet. All I know is my phone is back on and working. Weird thing is I can still login to SunRockets website and see my whole account. I can’t adjust anything and voicemail is not working.

    As far as the SIP/Proxy info I didn’t get anything and I haven’t touched the Inno at all except to reboot it.

    /Phil

  5. I used my debit card. Any suggestions on getting my money back on that? As far as the FCC, I just wrote them. Don’t know if it will do any good. Anyone know if there has been any news of a class action law suit against them yet? I sure hope so, if for no reason than, they hadled this whole thing wrong. They have basically slapped all there customers in the face. By the way, I started service w/ them in Feb 2006, also, som I jus renewed in Feb 2007, also.

  6. Sorry Laura, I don’t think you can do anything with a debit card. I know that if your debit card was stolen and used, it is very hard to get back the money from the bank. That is why it is always good to have a credit card for online purchases.

    As far as the FCC, I am not sure that it will do any good as VOIP is not regulated like regular phone companies. However, I am with you in a class action lawsuit. If they at least gave us some warning, an email even would have been nice. It just make me mad that a company can just close their doors and turn out the lights without any consequences…

    /Phil

  7. I tried to find out who Teleblend is too, and I can’t find an address (other than the same state as SR!), or names of principals, etc. I don’t like doing business with secretive businesses. It’s one of the reasons I initially chose SunRocket. Does anyone have any “About” information for Teleblend? It seems it may very well be a start-up to recover SR business, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I want specifics…

  8. Well a little searching around and I found some more info on Teleblend. I hope some of it is not correct as it could me more trouble and money wasted on my end. It seems like their domain was registered just yesterday!

    According to this story here it looks like Teleblend could be a scam, however if you read down more you will see posts that state they are a legit company and they have taken over some of SunRockets infrastructure.

    “From fatwallet discussion:
    “TeleBlend update: Okay, I just got off of the phone with an apparently knowledgable CSR at “TeleBlend” in an Arizona call center. They were all just informed that they would begin taking calls for TeleBlend this morning (5:00am PST). Basically, United Communications Corp has taken over the SR infrastructure (as they have done previously with other small telecos) and are attempting to staff CSRs (already preset in the call center) and also get some IT folks to staff the infrastructure. They were all presented with a 2 page FAQ to take calls today. At least I am now comfortable that this is not a scam, but rather an attempt by United Communications to absorb another small Teleco and make some $$ using their existing call center in Arizona. The TeleBlend website was just created since this is really a new business unit of United Communications Corp. I thought that I would post this info for those interested … and since I waited on the phone for 10 minutes this morning to speak to someone at TeleBlend. I fortunately still have some marginal SR phone service working in Cleveland, OH. The CSR could not tell me exactly when the IT staff (tech support) would be fully in place. ”

    “When you enter your SR number at Teleblend, it pulls out all your info SR had on file. No need to update gizmo. I bet Teleblend is gonna be new reborn SR.”

    No fees whatsoever, and you don’t even have to update your gizmo, they promise a quick port, no upfront prepaid charge and no fee for cancellation…

    https://www.myteleblend.net/TOS.aspx

    Well lets see what happens over the next few days…

  9. After more research, it seems perhaps that Teleblend is a service of Unified Communications of Singapore, based on an article in Thursday’s online Wall Street Journal. http://www.unifiedcomms.com. I hope they’ve created a service center here in the US.

  10. Below is the registration for teleblend.com. The name confirms the affiliation to Unified Communications, but note the email address of the admin contact. Somehow they’re affiliated to USA Telephone.

    I also got a chuckle that I live less than 15 miles from the physical location listed as the registrant of myteleblend.net.

    Registrant:
    UnCommUm

    5 Bragdon Lane
    Kennebunk, Maine 04043
    United States

    Registered through: TLD Webs
    Domain Name: TELEBLEND.COM
    Created on: 14-Feb-05
    Expires on: 31-Dec-09
    Last Updated on: 18-Jul-07

    Administrative Contact:
    Fogg, Bill [email protected]
    UnCommUn
    5 Bragdon Lane
    Kennebunk, Maine 04043
    United States
    2074679004

  11. mpingi, a sunrocket rival is offering special offers for exisiting sun rocket customers who can no longer access the sunrocket service because of the company failure. if you are a sunrocket customer, i suggest you check out their offers…check out http://www.1800-info.com/sunrocket/index2.php ive filled the form, waiting for them to get in touch with me…offers seem rather interesting!

  12. I actually had SunRocket service as of last night and didn’t know anything about SunRocket’s demise until their email this morning. I had also just used a debit card to pay the annual service so it looks like standing in line at the bankruptcy window (for a few pennies) is the only recourse.

  13. Teleblend is exactly what I was waiting for… seamless continuation of service on the same hardware. I bit just now and submitted my info. Being offshore, I’m extraordinarily happy that finally there’s a solution that enables me to not have to ship myself a new box… even if it is by a seemingly half-assed start-up attempt of a co. Hope to be back online in 15mins like you.

  14. Phil,

    If you paid more than 60 days ago, most credit card companies won’t help you. The laws of bankruptcy is pretty clear: get in line, and as a customer, you’re last in that line. 5 months of service for $200 is still less than $50/month, and while that deal sucks, it’s no worse than a regular phone and long distance service.

    As far as complaining to the FCC, their opinion will be that people subscribe to VoIP to skirt the regulatory fees by subscribing to an unregulated service. At best (for some) they won’t do anything.

    Or they’ll use this as an excuse to regulate: What will likely burn the FCC complainers is that their new VoIP service will suddenly have $14.00 a month or so tacked onto the bill for universal line access, E911, and whatever else they can think of. Suddenly it’s no longer that good a deal. The monopoly providers will cut their pricing for a short while to drive these irritating companies out of business, and it’s back to $50/month plus fees for service. But hey, it’s their bed, they can lie in it. Good luck with that.

    Jaydub

  15. Jaydub,

    I kind of figured I would not get anything back from the CC but I am going to try anyway. I know Amex is great for disputing charges. As for the FCC I also kind of figured they won’t do anything since VOIP is not regulated like regular PSTN is. As far as tacking on surcharges I find it funny that Teleblend said they would get me going again for $12.95 a month until the end of my contract with SunRocket and now I just received an invoice for $16.46!

    Here is the breakdown:

    $12.95 – Monthly Charge
    $ 3.51 – Taxes and Surcharges
    ——
    $16.46

    Taxes & Surcharges breakdown:
    $1.00 – 911 Surcharge
    $ .52 – Country Sales Tax
    $ .95 – Federal Universal Service Fund
    $ .05 – Metro Commuter Trans. District
    $ .08 – NY MTA Surcharge on Excise
    $ .02 – NY MTA Surcharge of Franchise
    $ .32 – NY State Excise Tax
    $ .05 – NY State Franchise Tax
    $ .52 – State Sales Tax

    What’s up with that? I thought VOIP is not regulated so what is up with all the charges?

    Another Steve,
    Since you are back online did you Red ‘Run’ light go out? Also did you get an invoice yet? See all the excess charges? Do you have voicemail yet?

    As far as I see Teleblend has setup a website to collect payments and little more. There is no way to manage your account yet, you can change call forwarding, etc. I can still login to SunRockets control panel but the changes don’t seem to do anything…

  16. phil,

    Nope, Red run light still blinking away. No formal invoice yet. Hitting SR’s “00” for voicemail does nothing. And, I had call-forwarding switched on via the SR site before signing up with TB. Interestingly, after my service switched back on with TB, I went back into the SR site to manage call-forwarding and was able to successfully turn it off. Looks like TB was set up in a hurry and is more or less just managing the basic infrastructure.

    Here’s the confirmation email:
    ————————-
    Dear ,

    Thank you for allowing us to serve you. Your credit card payment of $22.32* has processed succesfully** and your account has been setup.

    Your new account number is: XXXX
    Your receipt number is: XXXXXXXXXX

    We are working to update our website to enable you to fully manage your account, but in the interim you can access account information and make online payments at your convenience using our Customer Portal.

    You can access the portal at MyTeleBlend.net/login using the following information:

    Login: [email protected]
    Password: XXXXXXXX

    Email us @ [email protected] if you need any assistance.

    Thanks,

    TeleBlend
    ————————-
    * fyi, the $22.32 charge was the $12.95/mo rate plus a 4.99 add’l line fee and then tax.
    ** yes, they misspelled another word.

    The TB site provides for very little control over the account. I’m pretty confident that they’ll just copy SR’s site at this point. If not, there’s no cancellation fee… so who cares. :)

  17. Hey guys..

    Well, I switched to Teleblend as well… not sure that was the best idea. I have no voice mail either. I had distinctive ring on my line as well.. and my cost is going to be

    $12.95 per month
    + 4.99 Distinctive ring #
    + 6.82 Taxes.

    I am not sure why my taxes are higher than the others.. maybe because I have an extra number. I agree.. since they are not regulated, I am not sure what the taxes are for and I intend to find out.

    I chose them because of the ease of transfer, although I did have SR service this morning. I had no idea there was any problems until I got an e-mail this morning, and like other – I had paid a year in advance (Feb 07).

    I have spoken with an attorney this morning via phone and he seems to think there is grounds for suing the company. He is looking into it and will get back to me this evening or tomorrow. If this proves feasible, I will be willing to go that route.

    I sent an e-mail to Teleblends (pitiful name) and asked them how to access voicemail, etc. No answer as of yet, but if they can’t come up with a solution within 48 hours, I will move my service to Packet 8.

    If anyone gets any information about configuring services .. please let the others here know.

  18. Well after reading more here: http://thecrustysysarch.blogspot.com/ it seems like a lawsuit would be for no reason…

    Follow the post ‘SunRocket and Consumer Recourse’:

    “Now, you can knock SunRocket on consumer laws, but most of these only take effect in the case of outright fraud, are difficult to prove, and moreover require there be assets in that company to allow the damages to be paid. Which means that if you do take them to court, even if you win, no matter the size of the judgment, there probably won’t be enough to take to even pay your lawyer.”

    As far as other providers I am looking at all available resources. I believe Packet 8 is well known but there are also many others out there that might be just as viable.

  19. Greetings fellow SR refugees – I went with Teleblend for now. The equipment – and $15 initial charge buys me time while I figure out if they can really deliver. I’m skeptical as well. My phone works in/out now, but I’m frankly not sure if it’s using Teleblend or Sunrocket’s corpse…

    Questions:
    Does anyone have voicemail with Teleblend yet?
    Are there forwarding options?

    At the moment their website is a huge lost opportunity to provide comfort and information to new customers, and suicide for their call center. If they can’t update some HTML – how can they run a VOIP company?
    ****

  20. CEJ — After I switched over to TB, I successfully turned my forwarding off via the SR site. I suggest using the SR site to manage that option if it works. :)

  21. I did the quick switch on wed. and have never lost service, the voice mail is gone and all my who is queries returned the same info.
    Teleblend came up over night and you can bet your 12.95 plus taxes that its paying for the existing network infrastructure and database until they can spit shine and polish their new company.

    Sure I lost my money for the 1 year contract, just be greatful that if you took the risk that your phone works, although not complete with fax and voice mail as yet.

    I expect the Unified operation to be more accountable and better run than the idiots that ran sunrocket. I will never prepay a year again and i will bet money that Vonage is the next to sink its ship.

  22. I signed up for byod with viatalk 3 days ago. Got a confirmation email right away since then nada thing from viatalk, Online chat saw no operator for 30 munutes calls to 800 service number either were not answered or I was person 63 in the queue.
    I understand ViaTalk is busy but still…..

    For 12.99 and 1.60 in taxes to teleblend I was up in 5 minutes.

    Sunrocket voice mail was third party. I am sure in the next few days packet8 and teleblend will find new IP voice mail providers or strike up a new deal with the old voice mail providers and provide vm as a value added service. BTW I signed up for SunRocket in June 2007 and at that time they did not offer vm on the account (technical difficulties they claimed I could not even purchase vm) I would suggest installing a phone with built in vm as in the old days until the services work out online voicemail.

    As a voip engineer I feel Teleblend has the keys to the kingdom at Sunrocket. They have a provisioning interface into the sunrocket database and access to the servers actually providing the sip/pstn interconect. Essentially it is SunRocket operating as Teleblend. There would need to be a few techies and business people from Sunrocket who now get their paychecks from Teleblend involved.

    Really it is all done in software once the proper connections are in place the “company” providing service is just an entry in a database.

    There are various voip resellers that allow you to set yourself up as a telco. You provide provisioning, billing, and support labor. pay them a flat fee for each number and you are good to go. Provisioning is the key it can be automated to work via the web.

    PS I used my Visa/Debit card to purchase SunRocket services in June. Entered a dispute on the amount and have a provisional credit back in my account right now. I have forms to fill out. company (SR) has 10 days to respond then I get my money.

  23. Phil,

    So they’re charging full-set tax? Interesting – this would mean that they loaded telco tax data into their billing system, but I am not sure where that money would go.

    But I commend you for your monthly contribution to the NYC Metro Transit Authority, and the taxes on taxes. My friends appreciate it.

    Cheers,

    Jaydub

  24. Well Jaydub, I am always happy to help the MTA, but come-on you and I both know these taxes are not going to the appropriate places. Unless they are thinking they are a “real” telco?

    I wonder if any of the RBOC’s have to charge tax for their VOIP offerings? Anyone know?

  25. I still have SR in and out service, On the 19th July it appears all the Voice answering service shut down and the 00 dial gave me a no longer taking any service calls from the no gotya company.I have two annual accounts with 6 numbers that I renewed in February, been with since sept 05.
    I am not going to use any of the replacement firms recommended. I can add voip with my cable company for only $8 more per month. I bet most can replace their sunrocket service through their high-speed provider for much less than the replacement coyotes. Let me know if anyone has a good reliable Sunrocket replacement with VM.

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