Thursday, April 16, 2009

The decline and fall of Gizmo

Until a couple of months ago I was a fairly happy customer of the Gizmo Project, a SIP based competitor to Skype. Back in February however they sent me a support email to tell me my Call-In number was out of order.

Date: Fri, 20 Feb 2009
Subject: Attn:Regarding Your UK Number From Gizmo5
From: Gizmo5

Dear Gizmo5 Customer:

Our provider for your number in the United Kingdom is experiencing technical problems with their numbers. They are working on this issue but have been unable to provide us with a time frame for when these numbers will be functional.

To remedy this situation we have 2 options for our customers:

1. Offer you a replacement number
2. If you would like to keep your number, we will extend your expiration date to cover the time it was down once the numbers are restored and functioning normally.

Please respond to this email to let us know of your decision. We are sorry for the inconvenience this may have caused and look forward to getting this resolved quickly.

Thank you for your business,
Gizmo 5 Support Staff
Since my Call-In number was the one I used for my business I wasn't that happy. I certainly didn't want a different number, this was the one on all of my business cards after all. So crossed my fingers, and just over a week later I got a follow up email.

Date: Sat, 28 Feb 2009 00:02:54 UT
Subject: UPDATE:Regarding Your UK Number From Gizmo5
From: Gizmo5

Dear Gizmo5 Customer:

Regarding the number outage that has occured in the UK, We have received notification from our provider that service to the numbers affected should return by Monday March 2nd. They stated that everything possible is done so that it does not happen again.

Thanks again for your patience and we apologize for the inconvenience this may have caused.

Gizmo5 Support Staff

A long outage, but at least it was almost behind me? Suffice to say the 2nd of March rolled around without my service being restored. In fact Gizmo have never managed to restore my service...

...and quite frankly their level of customer service was abysmal. There was no advanced notice of any possible outage, and then notification that there was an outage was delayed after they did know about it. I learned later from colleagues that the number had gone out of service some time before the initial email I received from them about the problem. Repeated promises that it would be fixed soon, that it was already fixed when it wasn't. Weeks between answering support tickets, support tickets randomly disappearing from my list filled tickets without any reason...

The Call-In number in question has now 'expired' as the entire saga has ran past the end of my billing cycle, and I certainly wasn't going to throw good money after bad to renew a number I couldn't use. Claims that they'd,

...extend your expiration date to cover the time it was down

just didn't happen. Unfortunately availability of number portability in the UK, while normal practice for mobile numbers, is in it's infancy for landlines and relies on the complex interaction of a series of mutual handshake deals between various providers. There is no standard way to do things. So I've now got another dial-in number with a different provider. Fortunately since I'd gone with a standards based VoIP solution I could take my expensive shiny VoIP hardware along with me to my new provider. Heaven knows what I'd have done if I was relying on Skype...

I've had my business cards reprinted, and I'll now tell anyone who listens that they shouldn't trust the Gizmo Project with their business. A dead phone line doesn't give a great first impression to your customers.

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