“I began service with PhonePeople in December 2006. I have become unhappy with their service because my clients repeatedly get a busy signal when dialing my toll free numbers or even worse, it takes 10-15 seconds before you even hear a ring when dialing. I decided to switch my service, and now they don’t want to release my 800 numbers. I was informed that I could only switch if local law allowed it, and if they found out I was prohibited by the local law, I would be forced to give back the number and a $500 fine. When I asked where I could find information on local laws, they said they did not know.
I was later informed that I could not port out my number because I had not ported it in. They stated that I was bound to the new terms of service agreement [that went into effect after I signed up] because at the bottom of the old agreement it stated that I would agree to any changes made in the future. I asked for my old terms of service agreement, and they said they did not have a copy of it. Then I asked how they could prove I agreed to any future changes if they didn’t even have a copy of it.
I was put on hold for a while, only to be informed that they understood my concern and there was nothing they could do, stating that even though I didn’t ‘sign’ any agreement that they had my IP Address when I placed the initial order. I replied that they obviously did not understand my concern, and that I would have to file an informal complaint with the FCC. They said to go ahead and file a complaint with the FCC because they were not technically a phone carrier, and thus not liable legally. I offered to pay to switch the numbers, but they said it was not possible.”
The original Phone People Terms of Service:
PhonePeople was bought by j2, the owners of Onebox on May 15th, 2008. I researched this a little bit and found that PhonePeople.com did allow customers to transfer numbers out. Using Archive.org’s WayBackTimeMachine I located a copy of the December 02, 2007 Terms of Service for Phonepeople.com. It did say customers “may request a transfer of your Number to another company, but only provided that you have paid all fees due under your account, and the number is still in service with us.”
Their agreement does in fact say that they can change it in any way they want at any time. “This Agreement, including fee schedules and rate plans, is subject to change and may be modified at any time, and any such modification shall be effective immediately upon posting of the modified agreement at http://www.phonepeople.com/agreement.aspx”
The new Phone People Terms of Service (courtesy of the new owners j2 ):
Next I looked up the current terms of service and found a very different story. To be honest this is the most amazingly one sided, vicious and punitive wording I’ve ever seen. I don’t think it’s possible to make this any worse for the customer. I can’t believe that anyone in their right mind would EVER agree to this type of thing or that a big company would ever try to do this to their customers. It’s just INSANE!! That’s just my personal opinion, but this post isn’t based on opinions, it’s based on the facts and their own documents.
a. Ownership of Phone People Number
YOU UNDERSTAND AND AGREE THAT YOU ARE NOT THE OWNER OF ANY PHONE PEOPLE NUMBER ASSIGNED TO YOU BY THE COMPANY. OWNERSHIP OF ANY SUCH PHONE PEOPLE IS VESTED SOLELY IN THE COMPANY (AND YOU ARE GIVEN A REVOCABLE LICENSE TO USE SUCH IN ACCORDANCE WITH THIS AGREEMENT). YOU ARE EXPRESSLY PROHIBITED FROM CAUSING OR ATTEMPTING TO CAUSE THE PHONE PEOPLE NUMBER ASSIGNED TO YOUR ACCOUNT TO BE TRANSFERRED TO ANY OTHER SERVICE PROVIDER, TELEPHONE CARRIER OR ANY OTHER PERSON OR ENTITY (ALSO SOMETIMES REFERRED TO AS “PORTING” THE TELEPHONE ). IN THE EVENT YOU ARE FOUND TO HAVE VIOLATED THIS PROHIBITION YOU AGREE TO IMMEDIATELY RETURN THE PHONE PEOPLE NUMBERTO THE COMPANY AND PAY THE COMPANY AN AMOUNT EQUAL TO $500 (OR THE EQUIVALENT IN LOCAL CURRENCY). YOU AUTHORIZE THE COMPANY TO CHARGE YOUR ACCOUNT CREDIT CARD OR TAKE ANY OTHER MEASURES REQUIRED TO COLLECT THIS PAYMENT. YOU AGREE THAT THIS PAYMENT REPRESENTS LIQUIDATED DAMAGES REFLECTING A REASONABLE MEASURE OF THE ACTUAL OR ANTICIPATED HARM AND DAMAGES CAUSED TO THE COMPANY FROM SUCH VIOLATION IN LIGHT OF THE DIFFICULTIES OF PROOF OF THE COMPANY’S LOSS AND THAT THIS PAYMENT IS NOT A PENALTY. SOME NON-US JURISDICTIONS DO NOT ALLOW LIMITATIONS TO BE PLACED ON YOUR RIGHT TO PORT THE PHONE PEOPLE ASSIGNED TO YOU, SO SOME OF THESE LIMITATIONS MAY NOT APPLY. HOWEVER, EVEN IF IN YOU ARE ENTITLED TO PORT SUCH PHONE PEOPLE NUMBER, YOU UNDERSTAND AND AGREE THAT IT MAY NOT BE POSSIBLE TO DO SO, E.G. WHEN NO PORTING AGREEMENT EXISTS BETWEEN YOUR AND OUR TELEPHONE CARRIER OR FOR ANY OTHER REASON.
b. Porting Policy
IF YOU “PORTED IN” A NUMBER IN CONNECTION WITH YOUR USE OF SERVICES OR ARE ENTITLED TO “PORT OUT” A PHONE PEOPLE UNDER LOCAL LAW, YOU MAY “PORT OUT” THAT UPON TERMINATION OF YOUR ACCOUNT ONLY IF YOU SATISFY THE FOLLOWING REQUIREMENTS: (i) YOU PROVIDE WRITTEN NOTICE TO THE COMPANY OF YOUR INTENTION TO “PORT OUT” THE TELEPHONE ASSOCIATED WITH THE TERMINATED PHONE PEOPLE ACCOUNT NO LATER THAN THIRTY (30) DAYS AFTER THE DATE OF TERMINATION OF YOUR PHONE PEOPLE ACCOUNT (THE “PORTING NOTICE PERIOD”); (ii) YOUR NEW TELEPHONE CARRIER PROVIDES OUR TELEPHONE CARRIER WITH A DULY EXECUTED PORTING REQUEST PRIOR TO THE EXPIRATION OF THE PORTING NOTICE PERIOD; AND (iii) PRIOR TO THE EXPIRATION OF THE PORTING NOTICE PERIOD, THE COMPANY HAS RECEIVED AN ADMINISTRATION FEE TO COVER ITS COSTS ASSOCIATED WITH PROCESSING THE PORT IN AN AMOUNT OF (A) $40 (OR THE EQUIVALENT IN LOCAL CURRENCY) IF YOU “PORTED IN” THE TELEPHONE OR (B) THE LESSER OF $100 (OR THE EQUIVALENT IN LOCAL CURRENCY) OR THE MAXIMUM PERMITTED UNDER LOCAL LAW IF YOU ARE ENTITLED TO “PORT OUT” A PHONE PEOPLE UNDER LOCAL LAW. YOU HEREBY AUTHORIZE THE COMPANY TO CHARGE YOUR CREDIT CARD IN THE APPLICABLE AMOUNT OR TO OTHERWISE ARRANGE TO MAKE THIS PAYMENT TO THE COMPANY WITHIN THE PORTING NOTICE PERIOD. IF YOU FAIL TO SATISFY THESE REQUIREMENTS, THE TELEPHONE NUMBER YOU “PORTED IN” WILL BECOME THE SOLE AND EXCLUSIVE PROPERTY OF THE COMPANY.