Tag Archives: voip

Blueface make personal attack, unfounded slurs on former customer

Blueface would appear to be losing it.

Feargal Brady, Blueface CEO has, out of the blue, decided to start leaving deliberately inaccurate, bizarre and unsubstantiated accusations against me in comments on a post on this blog. Some of these allegations are more personal than factual. Challenged to back them up he has repeatedly demurred.

Long story short – Blueface are a VOIP telephony provider in Ireland. I opened an account with them in January 2006. I had repeated problems with the service and in November 2006 I closed my account (after spending in excess of €300 with them).

Excruciating detail:
Because of the allegations made against me by Blueface I will now go through my dealings with them in detail to document the issue online. Skip down to the non-italicised text if you want to see what allegations Blueface are throwing around about me.

I raised my first issue with them on January 13 06, the day I set up my account. My account was configured incorrectly and I was unable to call 076 numbers.

The next problem I had was on February 7th. Again another configuration issue with the way my “calls were localised” which was sorted reasonably quickly.

On March 22nd, because of ongoing call reliability issues I was having with the service I enabled port forwarding (using the port forwarding instructions on Bernard’s site) which seemed to help at the time. I confirmed this with an email to S.O’C in Support sent at 11:28am and confirmed in reply by S.O’C at 11:40am. Up until then when I phoned support, the advice I received was to “Restart the ATA”.

I had more issues in April. I raised a ticket about my inability to make calls on April 3rd which was never satisfactorily explained. This was well over a month after I enabled port forwarding, you will note.

On May 11th when I reported another call issue, I was asked by S. O’C over email to try port forwarding! I reminded him that I had port forwarding in place for a couple of months. This issue appeared to be resolved on 15th of May.

On the 21st of June I again was unable to make calls.This time support advised me to:

switch off the modem and ATA for 30 secs and then switch them back on and leave them for 5 mins

This appeared to work so I took to doing that every time I had a problem instead of contacting support and waiting for them to respond. The problem kept getting worse. It got to the point that by October the service was failing at least once a day (often more). I would only be aware that there was a problem when the phone didn’t ring for a while or when I tried to make outgoing calls. I would try to call my office number from my mobile phone and discover that it wasn’t ringing. As this was my published business number, this was an intolerable situation so I wrote a blog post saying that the Blueface service ‘is crap’.

On October 11th at 17:09 the Blueface CEO, Feargal Brady kindly emailed me. He said:

I ready your blog regarding the service and I’d like to see what problems you are experiencing and how we can address them

At 22:09 I explained that:

the problems I am having are that the service keeps failing. At least once a day (usually more often) I realise I am not receiving any incoming calls. I try to ring from my mobile and get nowhere. Alternatively, I go to make a call and am unable – either no dial tone or the call fails to connect. Calling from my mobile gets through every time.

Sometimes unplugging the ATA resolves the problem for a time, sometimes not.

Feargal came back at 22:32 suggesting:

you may have to set up port forwarding on your broadband modem, so that it sends incoming calls to the modem

I responded at 22:38 by saying:

I set up port forwarding on the router when I installed the ata at the start of the year.

Most of the issues I have had with the service has been in the last two weeks.

To which Feargal replied at 23:08:

in the last 2 weeks we have had 10 minutes of downtime so this would not explain why you could not make a call. It may be that the ATA is faulty or perhaps there is a conflict between it and the router? If you like I can arrange a new one and you can try that?

On the following afternoon at 15:46 I replied to Feargal saying:

please do forward a new ata and I will try it out.

As a side note I am still waiting for that ata!

At 16:03 on Oct 12th Feargal emailed me saying:

You have experienced problems with the phone service because of your setup, your ATA and are [sic] downtime. I looked at your support queries and the last support request was almost a year ago, we had no other contact from you. If we had know you were having problems then we could have tried to resolve them.

By now I was getting irate as the problems were persisting and being told it was my fault was not making me feel all warm and fuzzy so at 16:07 I responded:

excuse my language but that’s a bunch of crap.

I have been on to Blueface support many times – and a lot more recently than a year ago. In fact I only got the service installed in January or February of this year so I couldn’t have been raising support issues a year ago.

I got sick of contacting support because i always got the same old line – “Have you tried re-starting the ATA?”

Pretty soon I got into the habit of re-starting the ATA instead of calling support.

This was the only time I got angry in my communications with Blueface. At 16:32 Feargal’s response was:

its not a bunch of crap, if the ATA needs restarting its because it has lost connectivity with our server. This happens because of the port forwarding issue – this is common to all SIP based VoIP platforms, and so I think that your annoyance is not so much with us but with the inherent reliability of the system in comparison with the PSTN, and how it can be setup correctly to get around this problem.

You signed up in January and have had 4 queries, beginning in April, and the last one in June. There are no others. Clearly we have failed in addressing your incoming call problems and the registration drops and we are happy to try and fix it. As I said, we do this for everyone not just for people with Blogs. Having looked at the blog now, there are people expressing their satisfaction with the service we provide.

All I want to do is fix any problems we have, try and provide a good service, and keep our customers happy – regardless of who they are. You are welcome to come into the office and see for yourself how we manage support, look at our queues etc. Why would we intentionally sell a service which is unusable or provide poor service? It makes no sense.

You are clearly fed up with the technology, with us and with the service you’ve received. All I want to do is alleviate your frustration if possible, and stop this happening again.

As I documented above, I obviously had more than the 4 ‘queries’ Feargal referred to here but I chose not to bother correcting him.

Apart from my outburst on the 12th October 2006, I think you will agree it has all been reasonably polite and friendly. I closed my account with Blueface in November 2006 and thought that was the end of it. Boy was I wrong!

For some reason Blueface CEO Feargal Brady saw fit to revisit my blog post on February 1st and leave this highly inaccurate comment:

just to clarify we did contact Tom a number of times. We advised him that he needed to make some changes on his router on account of his particular setup. He decided that he didn’t require our advice however and never implemented the changes. Despite our looking at his account and seeing his device drop its registration as we predicted, Tom still refused to make the changes. I personally contacted him to offer support and was met with a number of sarcastic and cynical (many would say downright childish) replies. Feargal.

Along with this comment on another post:

your incoming calls did not work for reasons we explained to you about 20 times. Each time we were met with your arrogant refusal to implement the changes – if you implemented them your phone would work perfectly.

On the 5th of February he left the following unbelievable comments:

you were rude and abusive to our support staff. You did not know how to set up port forwarding on your router – when we offered assistance it was declined – disdainfully is being polite. In summary you decided to ignore our help and when your service didn’t work you complained that it was our fault that you wouldn’t take our advice. There was nothing for us to do but leave it at that. Interestingly I had a call from another company who also suffered similar abuse from you in similar circumstances – seems you’re building up quite a reputation.

Then on February 11th this one:

you had not set up port forwarding on your router – as I mentioned, you did not know how to set it up and our offer to assist you was declined. Hence your calls failed as we told you they would, and now you are happy to make out that this is our fault.

Later again on February 11th

you don’t know how to set up port forwarding – I’ve read the mails, read our support tickets, spoken to our support staff. But thank you for showing us all your true character.

In response to another commenter on my blog Feargal said:

Steve – I contacted Tom a number of times and each time my attempts to resolve the situation were met with disdain.

Then Feargal went on to accuse me of commenting on my own blog, in support of myself, using pseudonyms!

I wonder do we have any proof that Al and Steve aren’t Tom’s alter egos or ’supporting act’

You really couldn’t make this stuff up.

To summarise Feargal accused me of:

  • being “sarcastic and cynical (many would say downright childish)”
  • Being arrogant
  • never implementing the changes Blueface support recommended (port forwarding and re-start the ATA)
  • being “rude and abusive to our support staff”
  • being technically incompetent (“not know how to set up port forwarding on your router”)
  • disdainfully declining the help offered by Blueface support
  • commenting on my own blog, in support of myself, using pseudonyms

I asked Blueface CEO Feargal Brady numerous times in the exchanges to back up his incredible charges. Never once has he done so, he has merely gone on to make ever more preposterous claims.

Even if any of these claims were true (and not one of them is), I really don’t see how it profits Blueface to be trashing a former customer in a public forum.

Frankly, if I had a poor opinion of the Blueface service before now, my opinion of their senior management and Blueface as a company could not be any lower now.

BT Broadband users can be hacked!

James Galvin posted a couple of weeks ago about a recently published exploit which made hacking Eircom’s wireless routers trivial.

As Eircom are the largest provider of residential broadband in Ireland, this is potentially a big deal. As Joe Drumgoole commented at the time:

they have inadvertently created Ireland’s largest free WIFI network. Good man Eircom!

However, BT is now facing an even more serious issue on its wireless routers according to an article in the Register today. At least in Eircom’s case, the vulnerability only exposed the WEP key, allowing use of the wifi on the router.

In the case of the BT router, the Reg is reporting that

a remote attacker can quietly gain full administrator control over a device simply by social engineering a user into visiting a website. The exploit makes it possible to steal a user’s WPA key, listen in on VoIP calls, steal VoIP credentials or change DNS settings so users are silently redirected to fraudulent websites

This is a far more serious an issue then the Eircom one and the number of routers this affected is likely to be orders of magnitude greater.

The one saving grace is that the hack hasn’t been published in the wild, as was the case with Eircom. Yet.

Did you kill Skype last week?

I did!

Skype are claiming that with their outage last week was due to massive numbers of people re-starting their computers after downloading Microsoft’s monthly software update!

I am sure they are correct, despite how implausible it sounds.

I am just curious about how Skype managed to keep the service running every other month that Microsoft has released patches.

UPDATE: – Skype have published a more detailed explanation of the outage.

Skype offline

In case you hadn’t noticed (or read about it elsewhere) Skype has been offline since around 11am this morning. It is now 5pm.

This is the first time I can remember Skype being unavailable since I started using it 3-4 years ago.

Is anyone using it as their only means of telephony? Up to now, that would have been quite tempting.

Congrats Pat

Pat Phelan’s Cubic Telecom company has been selected to be one of the finalists in TechCrunch 20 for their Roam4free product. What is TechCrunch 20? From the site:

Twenty of the hottest new startups from around the world will announce and demo their products over a two day period at TechCrunch20. And they don’t pay a cent to do this. They will be selected to participate based on merit alone. In fact, we’re even offering a $50,000 cash award and lining up other in-kind services and awards from a generous group of corporate sponsors.

There were over 700 submissions from 26 countries so making it to the last 100 finalists was a considerable achievement. In fact, as far as I know Pat’s is the only Irish company in the final 100. Well done Pat – go for it boy!

I have spoken to Pat at length about their new Roam4free product set due out in the coming weeks and if they deliver half of what Pat is promising, it will set the mobile world on its head.

Yak4ever is Allfreecalls.net relaunched and re-branded

Pat Phelan is persistence personified!

He launched Allfreecalls.net earlier this year to some considerable acclaim only to have to shut it down after legal action by AT&T!

Pat has been plugging away in the background ever since trying to get the service back up and running again.

Yesterday Pat announced that Allfreecalls.net is back up once more, this time re-branded as Yak4ever.com.

Unlike the Allfreecalls service, Yak4ever users need to register their number and have to enter a list of (up to 10) numbers they will be calling. This is for legal reasons according to Pat.

Michael Arrington has removed Allfreecalls from his Dead Pool (for now, he says!).

Irish and UK readers should note that this relates to the US service only, Allfreecalls.ie and allfreecalls.co.uk continue to operate as previously.

[Disclaimer: I host these sites for Pat]

Fancy €100,000 p.a.?

That is what Pat Phelan is offering to his next hire! Pat is posting this on his blog and in the job sections of the papers. It will be interesting to know where he receives the most applications from.

Pat is looking for a business development manager. Unfortunately he is looking for someone with experience in business development so that rules me out, I guess :-(

Shame, I could have done with the salary, the new car, share options etc which go with the position.

If you feel you are right for the job, for God’s sake don’t contact Pat. I want him to come crawling to me ;-)

Off to MIX07

I’m writing this post in Terminal 3 of Heathrow Airport waiting to board a flight to Chicago (and then another to Vegas) for Microsoft’s MIX07 conference.

I’m looking forward to the conference, the line-up of talks looks really impressive and I’ll get a chance to meet some great people.

What is really cool as well is that Pat Phelan has ensured that my phone charges while I’m there will be minimal! How did he do that? Well, he mapped a Cork number (+353212349915) to my TruPhone number.

Now anyone who calls me from Ireland can call me on the Cork number Pat provided and, as long as I’m in a wifi zone, I will receive the call without incurring any roaming charges. And with Truphone, all outgoing calls to landlines are free until the end of June!

The only time I expect to incur call charges is if I have to call someone on mobile.

Excellent, thanks Pat.

Jangl sign-up broken?

I have been trying unsuccessfully, to sign-up for Jangl‘s service for several days now.

Part of the process involves calling their service, choosing and entering a four digit PIN. However, every time I have tried this, Jangl says it doesn’t recognise the PIN I have entered.

The explanation can’t be as simple as Jangl doesn’t recognise the DTMF tones from my phone because to enter the PIN, I had to enter 1 and it recognised that, no problem.

Maybe I should try again using 1111 as my password!

Has anyone else had this problem?

Problems receiving calls with Truphone

I set up a Truphone account to try out with the Nokia E61 I have been using the last few days.

Truphone gives you a US landline number when you sign up for an account with them (mine is 14259053151). Calls to this number are supposed to be routed to my mobile whenever I am logged into a wifi hotspot on the phone’s wifi.

Unfortunately, although this worked fine yesterday, it has stopped working today for some reason. Calls to my US number now go straight to voice mail.

I can call out no problem using Truphone and I can collect my voicemails so there is nothing wrong with the account or the wifi, just there seems to be an issue with incoming calls. :-(