SunRocket, the self proclaimed "no gotcha" phone company, has just gone and laid a gotcha on its 200,000 customers. Two days ago, the second-largest U.S. standalone Internet phone service shut its doors without notice, leaving all of its customers unreachable.
The company, based out of Vienna, Va. -- which also happens to be my hometown -- has left my household without a reliable number. Calling our number may force the caller to be rerouted to a cell phone (something we had to set up), or the phone may just continuously ring. Other customers have experienced spotty service or, increasingly, no service at all.
It's truly appalling that a company would close its doors without any notice to its subscribers. Then again, the company probably couldn't afford to mail 200,000 letters. At the very least, it should have posted a notice on its website.
But a quick visit shows that the SunRocket website is alive and well -- even proclaiming that you can get three months of service free in a limited-time offer. But try calling member services, and after a chipper greeting, you'll hear, "We are no longer taking customer service or sales calls. Goodbye." No explanation or apology.
Our household is left to dig around to determine whether we can even retain our previous number -- which we've had for almost 25 years. Since companies such as Global Crossing (Nasdaq: GLBC ) actually own all the phone numbers, it's yet to be determined what will happen, because SunRocket obviously isn't around to pay for them.
So who will be there to collect these customers who have been disconnected from the greater world? There is no shortage of VoIPs waiting to sweet-talk new customers with attractive offers. Vonage (NYSE: VG ) -- the most popular standalone VoIP provider -- has even felt the need to issue a press release ridiculously titled "Sunny Days Ahead for SunRocket Customers."
However, customers still feeling burned by SunRocket might not be ready to jump on board with a company that's entrenched in a patent battle with Verizon (NYSE: VZ ) . Those who want a more reliable option can bundle VoIP with other services through cable providers such as Verizon, Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA ) , and Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC ) . I doubt that any of those companies will pull a disappearing act.
For now, it'll take some time to get another provider up and running. So if you need to reach this Fool, use the email address in the footer.
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Katrina Chan does not own shares of the companies mentioned and will welcome a dropped cell-phone call over a disappearing VoIP company any day. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy that won't jump into a hat and disappear.