Vonage's Web and phone support is a jumbled mess

Vonage's Web site, as well as its phone-based tech support -have some endemic and major taxonomy and usability issues. Vonage, why are you making us work so hard to find the help resources we need?

Vonage's Web site, as well as its phone-based tech support -have some endemic and major taxonomy and usability issues. Vonage, why are you making us work so hard to find the help resources we need?

The information is all there, and is quite informative, but requires the mouse-click equivalent of search parties to locate.

Let me explain.

The last few days, I've been helping a friend install his newly acquired Vonage service.

He's been experiencing some no-dial-tone issues. Not the phone's fault. Probably the router, but not sure yet. Still working on the problem.

I'm not so proud that I would refuse to use the help resources on the Vonage site, or the similar assistance options offered by their toll-free tech support.

After several hours with each resource, I've concluded that while both online and toll-free support have lots of useful info, these resources are poorly organized.

The Vonage help pages sometimes refer to options or solutions without offering links or icons to those areas. In fact, the whole Web site does not map well to tech support.

I tell you, as I type this, I've got the site open in another window, and I see the Help link on the home page. I click it, and there is a list of some common questions, but not in a helpful walk-through manner. I mean, I wrote a book on FAQs (the only such book ever written) and one thing I maintained (and still do) is you don't just throw a bunch of questions up there. You organize them under specific meta issues, and then in a taxonomy from the simplest to the most complex.

To be fair, there is a Contact Us link, but what exactly is that supposed to mean? On some Web sites, that could mean "help," on some other sites it might mean general questions about a shipped order. Click Contact Us and you get a not-very-intuitive page with a pull-down menu.

OK, what's this? All the way at the bottom of the home page? "Site Map?" Let's click that link and cross our fingers.

There's also poor mapping of additional products. I had to do a local Vonage site search to find any info about X-PRO, Vonage's $9.99 a month softphone service.

Now, let us go to phone support. I fully understand the need for voice menus. Yet if you try Vonage's phone support voice menus, you'll notice some non-intuitive menu hierarchies. The best phone support resources organize these in some sort of logical taxonomy. I find Vonage's vaguely worded, and not well-structured.

Plus: cardinal sin alert here: there's no "Press O" for a live operator. Every voice-activated help line should have this. Absent such a feature, you have to guess which of the vaguely worded options on whatever of Vonage's phone support menus you are on might apply to your situation.

And their live tech support? I found them very helpful, but when I changed the subject to X-PRO, the guy didn't know what I was talking about. Kept walking us through a script that didn't seem to have enough flexibility to handle even the slightest deviation of topic.

Keep in mind that this is the same Vonage that has gotten sued for not making their E911 access limitations more prominent in their customer contracts.

I've said before that this is not a matter of actionable evasiveness, but of poor Web site organization and presentation.

Given my latest findings such as I have described here, I believe what I've just said even more.

Do you agree with me that Vonage's online and phone-based tech support is poorly organized? If so, do you have suggestions on what you would like to see? TalkBack to us.