N.H. to get $35k in Vonage settlement

New Hampshire is among 32 states that will divvy up a $3 million settlement from Vonage Holdings Corp., one of the largest Internet phone service providers, putting and end to an investigation into some of the company’s business practices.

According to the state attorney general’s office, New Hampshire will receive $35,000 as its part of the settlement.

Attorneys general from across the country said they had received complaints from Vonage customers regarding alleged difficulties in canceling service, failing to disclose the type of Internet connection needed to use the service, then asking for cancellation and other fees, and confusing service terms.

“We have received several consumer complaints about the service,” said Constance Stratton, a senior assistant attorney general in the Consumer Protection and Antitrust Bureau at the state attorney general’s office.

Stratton said customers will be refunded from a pool of funds separate from the state’s settlement, but she said she didn’t know how much that was or when customers could expect to receive their refund.

Vonage takes analog voice signals, digitizes them, and transmits them over the Internet as data signals, a process known as “voice over Internet protocol,” or VoIP.

According to the Wisconsin Attorney General’s office, which launched the instigation against Vonage in 2007, “Vonage formerly paid incentives to customer service representatives for retaining or ‘saving’ customers in lieu of cancellation, when consumers called to cancel. As a result, consumers reported that cancellation was extremely difficult and sometimes impossible.”

In addition to New Hampshire, the other states involved in the settlement are: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin. — CINDY KIBBE/NEW HAMPSHIRE BUSINESS REVIEW

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