Posted by: Bruce Allen | April 29, 2008

I’ll Just Alert the VOIP Industry Myself

Back in the day when I sold financial products, I went to work for a guy from Chicago who had been selling life insurance for 10 years and had a huge collection of aphorisms, chestnuts, cliches and throwaways. He was a great storyteller and a good teacher and he taught me a lot about sales. Mostly that Iwasn’t put on this earth to sell stuff. I think I inherited the “not-a-closer” gene from my dad.

Part of Bob’s job was stifling complaints, which in a world of commissioned salespeople were numerous, and did not diminish with age, experience or success. Oftentimes, the complaints would go to the very legal structure of the contracts that defined products–life insurance, annuities, etc. We’re talking about accounting and actuarial standards backed up by Federal legislation.

Bob’s standard response to these was, “Oh, I’ll alert the industry!” This always cracked me up.

I want to alert the VOIP industry as to why they’re not doing better. Or, at least, better with ME. I don’t know how their business is doing, actually; it’s entirely possible that everyone but me already has Vonage or some variation thereof. But here’s my deal.

According to what I’ve read, I’m supposed to buy a decent phone adapter, rather than the free one Vonage gives you, for like $60, and then connect it to my U-Verse router, modem, whatever. Then, I’m supposed to plug one or perhaps two phones into the adapter which, in my house, gives me two phones sitting next to one another in the TV cabinet, and no phones anywhere else in the house. Perfect.

“Grasshopper,” you are thinking, “don’t get an attitude just yet. You own a phone that has a base unit and one extension phone. Plug the base unit into the adapter. Then, you’ll have a phone on the TV and one in the bedroom!” But I don’t want a phone on the TV, and I do want a phone in the kitchen. My current options appear to be:

1. Have a phone/base on the TV no matter what. (Don’t like it.) Or, move the hutch and the TV, weighing a total of probably 600 lbs., across the room next to the piano. Pull up the carpet and run a phone line from the wall to the corner table, just like we did in the olden days. Put the carpet, which has stretched and now has a noticeable fold in it, back in place, and move the hutch and TV back to their original place. Put the base station on the table where it belongs. Prepare to be advised by the wife that we now need to replace the carpet in the family room. Another $1000, and that’s only if I don’t have a hernia from the hutch.

2. Purchase a new phone system with a base and, say, 4 remotes. Two or three hundred dollars more, on top of the $60 for the adapter. There’s my first year’s savings and more. And I still have a phone on my TV, and my wife ain’t gonna be havin’ dat.

3. Alert the industry. There’s room for a cottage industry of recovering AT&T, Lucent, Ameritech, etc. guys to go out and wire VOIP adapters where the phone lines come into the house, thereby allowing folks to leave their existing phones and jacks alone. (I assume that new homes have a VOIP connection available at the main junction.) Either that, or the entire internal setup becomes wireless, such that the new VOIP adapter/base puts the signal out to the phones, all of which have wireless reception. Better yet, why not just build a little old wireless VOIP adapter into phones, so that they work on my existing U-Verse WiFi, and not fiddle around with adapters at all. Then, I’m not dealing with the wife and the whole phone-on-the-TV thing. I can buy one or twelve.

Usually, when I go off like this, much like one of my comedic heroines, Rosanne Rosannadanna, someone taps me on the shoulder and whispers, “Yo. They’re already doing that.” If that’s the case, and the good people at Vonage who, admittedly know more about this stuff than do I, are on it, then I apologize for wasting your time with another pointless rant. I know nothing about this VOIP technology, nor of many other technologies, but I’m a Hoosier, and we make fun of things we don’t understand. That’s how we roll.

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  1. Nice article, thanks for that, made interesting (and fun) reading while I should be working!


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