This blog is where I post about my consulting work with Microsoft Technologies, and other random tidbits that don't fit in my Photo Blog or my Iraq Blog.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Callwave: Crappy Customer Service and Deceptive Pricing

I've been a customer of Callwave a company that provides internet fax, voicemail, audio conferencing and a variety of other services.  I've been paying them something like $10/year for a fax number that receives about 20 faxes a year (mostly junk).

So I don't use it much, but it's a dedicated number that I've had on my business card for something like 10 years.

A couple of months ago I received an email from them saying that my credit card on file had expired.  I clicked on the link, updated my credit card number on a very simple form with no additional information, and promptly forgot about it...

Today I noticed that they had charged me $12.95/month for the past 3 months!  A price increase of about $150/year!!!

Nowhere on the form that I entered my updated credit card information did it mention the fact that they were raising my pricing by something like 1000%!!!

Today I went to their site and discovered that apparently the old plan I was on was gone... I sent them a moderately irate email asking them to cancel my service AND refund the $38.85 that they had deceptively charged me.

A classy company could have looked at my account, seen that I was a long time customer, and reached out to me to try to retain my business... And it might have worked... I LIKE the fax service, but I only use it once or twice a year...

Instead I got a snotty/rude email response from Lenny Sanders a CallWave Customer Care Representative, informing me that they had sent me 2 emails in September explaining the new pricing policy, and that I could CALL THEM ON THE PHONE between sometime and sometime pacific time if I wanted to cancel my account.

They could take the time to make a personal response to my email, but apparently they couldn't be bothered to actually act on it... WTF?

The email they sent me in September had a subject line that started with "New fax features..." and were sorted into a junk folder.  When I went back to read them today it is not at all clear that $12.95/month is the ONLY plan they now offer and they my pricing was going to change.  Even if I had read it I would have no idea that I was signing up for $155 per year if I took no action.

Bottom line: Callwave has exhibited:
  • Deceptive marketing and billing practices.
  • Poor customer service.
And so instead of calling them on the phone tomorrow to cancel my account I am taking the following actions:
  • I am writing this blog post so that future Callwave customers can be informed about the character of the company before they consider doing business with them.
  • I am disputing all past charges with my credit card company (I'm assuming that it will cost Callwave more money to deal with is than it would for them to just refund me the money they deceptively billed me).
  • I will continue to blog about this topic until they refund my money and cancel my account.
And if you don't believe me here are some comments from other "satisfied customers":
UPDATE 12/16/2008:  Received another email from Janet Larson at Callwave "Customer Care" who says that they will be happy to review my refund request if I submit it in writing.  I can email Callwave Customer Care at care-20@callwave.com to request cancellation and a refund. 

But wait...  Janet works in Callwave Customer Care, and Lenny who emailed me yesterday works in Callwave Customer Care... but they can't be bothered to forward my email to themselves... instead they want me to write a new email to a different mailbox in their department?

Well I forwarded the entire thread to the new email address and we'll see what they do with it... I'm not optimistic...


dtrockman said...

Sounds like you are not happy with the service you got from callwave? :-)

Unknown said...

This exact thing happened to me. The automatically billing increase was not explicitly authorized by me. If not illegal, it is highly unethical. After talking to a couple guys at their call center in India (I assume) for about 20 minutes, they finally gave me the CARE-20@callwave.com email to request a refund.

This is a perfect example of "anti-customer service" Whoever wrote the deceptive price increase emails should be fired. They're did the company a disservice. I really liked the fax service. And they could have reached out to me and kept my business forever. But they really angered me with the desception. They lost me forever and I'll spread the bad news.

Anonymous said...

I just found out this happened to me from Callwave as well. I've been using only the fax service they offer for 6 years now. I have always paid $3.95 per year ($0.05) per day for this service.

Our business CC recently changed and I started receiving notifications from Callwave saying that they tried to charge the CC on file with no luck. Then, it says the new monthly charges are $12.95. I was completely blown away as I NEVER received any confirmation email nor did I ever opt into a higher service charge such as this.

I sent them an email this morning explaining that I have not only been a long time customer for 6 yesrs, but have also sent them much business over the years - probably over 30 additional customers since most people I work with are in need of such a service.

I'm just floored that Callwave would fraudulently charge me without approval on my side.

My company specializes in reputation management and monitoring and we can crash a company;s reputation as quickly as we can build one. I would not be surprised if we had to go down this path with Callwave considering all of the comments I have read regarding their poor customer support.

Note to All: Beware of Callwave. They are crooks and should be held accountable for their unscrupulous practices.

Unknown said...

Callwave got money from a card with a number that i did not give to them. This company should be stopped!!! Get you're complaints on the internet and report it to the FBI on the site www.ic3.gov