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.

32 thoughts on “Blueface make personal attack, unfounded slurs on former customer”

  1. Our business schools are really failing. For a CEO to be stupid enough to post childish crap on blogs is just plain stupid. What ever happened to the old “the customer is always right” line? Customer support is something most Irish companies don’t understand and hence don’t deliver.

  2. Agreed – Above is a quick smart way to start loosing current customers and displaying to potential customers that you do not hold the capacity to provide a service to them.

  3. What an absolute joke! – Fair enough Blueface have problems but to actually go on and talk crap. Is this Feargal Brady 12??

  4. Interestingly, I was discussing today with some business visitors from West Cork here in Kauhajoki, Finland about brand building and the challenges web 2.0 sets in making the brand.

    I must say this here is a good example about how blogs and comments may bring harm to one’s company if it’s service is not good and if the customer is accused for that.

  5. You’re 100% sure its really him leaving the comments? And not a setup from another irked customer?

  6. @Cormac, you have all the communications there (with the obvious exception of phone calls to support, but on the very odd occasion that phone calls to support were actually answered, I am generally far more polite when speaking to speaking to someone directly as opposed to by email), so you can judge for yourself just how one way the traffic was.

    Absolutely Feargal has a right to defend his product. But he has no right to lie about me or make blatantly false personal allegations about me.

    The post he started commenting on was well over a year old when he re-visited it and started maligning me. Why did he do that?

    And why, if he did want to leave comments on it, did he not take the opportunity to try to make Blueface look well rather than embarassing both himself and his company, as he has done.

    He could easily have left a comment along the lines of:
    “Tom, I am verysorry you had issues with our product. We have made many changes and improvements to our infrastructure in the last 14 months since you had these issues. I would love to have you try our service again and see for yourself just how much it has improved”

    Or words to that effect. Those kind of sentiments would go a lot further, and would make the Blueface company look far better than trying to smear me with personal insults and falsehoods.

  7. Oh, dear.

    The funny thing is, this seems to be happening a lot lately (customer airs reasonable complaints, CEO has hissy fit). See incident, also.

    Irish businesses need to grow up.

  8. Ha Ha Ha

    2 IT Guys fighting in a corner about nothing and all of us watching…
    HA HA HA

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  10. As someone who has aligences to neither side, I’m not in 100% agreement with either of you. I know some happy blueface customers.

    Perhaps Tom has a really poor router. Most home broadband routers are just the worst technology, and a huge number of expensive broadband routers have strange behaviours but otherwise appear to work fine. Perhaps replacing both your router and ata would have solved the problem.

    But meh, I do know people happy with blueface and even if their CEO has temporarily got wrapped up in overzealous defending of his company against the big bad blog bubble, I still wouldn’t be put off their service – well, not just yet anyway.

  11. @Michael, Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I don’t think there is any prob with my router to be honest. It is a bog standard Netopia 3347 which I have been using since 2005 with no problems.

    There may have been a hardware problem with the ATA alright but we will never know as Feargal never made good on his offer of a replacement ATA (if there was a problem with the ATA, it would have been covered under warranty as it was less than 1yr old).

    I don’t have any problem with CEOs defending their company as long as they do so in a constructive manner but making personal attacks and false allegations against customers will only serve to give the CEO and the company a bad name.

  12. I have had mixed experiences with Blueface, Freespeech and others using VoIP, but the Blueface support has in the past been helpful. There are issues with port forwarding and VoIP media streams which can be difficult at times to get around with firewall implementations.

    Bottom line is I don’t think I trust them (VoIP providers) enough to use them as a main contact number as of yet.

    Too many variables – unreliable internet connections, the providers changing configuration (source IP address / port) and software updates mostly with no notice to customers.

  13. There is a simple rule and it works and is obeyed: customer is always right!!!! no matter what happens the customer is always right.

  14. With Linksys, Netgear and 3Com routers I had exactly the same problem. I thought I am going mad actually. Then I saw something called Zoom (or something similar) in PC World, for some 60 Euros if I remember correctly. On the box it said it is a DSL broadband router / modem with VIOP QoS. I also had a QoS problems since I have 5 PCs competing for the uplink (poor 256!) with the VIOP phone. That solved QoS but the Blueface as such had serous blackouts on my end.

    Then I found FritzBox. I know I sound like the advertisement, but FritzBox solved all the problems. 6 months now, and not a single problem with the Blueface (Not ‘Blue Farce’ – and my spelling checker suggests!). If you decide to get FritzBox, make sure it is for the Irish market, since the ‘ordinary’ one, since it is made in Germany, will not recognise the DSL signal here. Different frequency – different standard in UK and Ireland as opposed to the continent (Annex A vs. Annex B).

    Anyway, my Blueface works now. And Works well. Call me if you want to try!  076 670 8888.

    Ivan |

  15. They obviously haven’t invested much in PR or customer service training (and the CEO should lead from the top anyway). Even if the allegations were true that is an atrocious way to behave.

  16. this exercise has cost his reputation lots more than 300… silly stuff – you are not exactly the average home user either Tom 🙂

  17. @Debbie – I agree absolutely

    @Joe – Exactly Joo, I am not exactly the average home user. Imagine if I was though. When I was asked to enable port forwarding on my router, I knew what they were talking about and set it up. Can you see any average home user doing that?

  18. Tom, I happen to visit your site and went through all that you wrote about Blueface. I am a Blueface customer for about 2 years now and I must say I have no wrong word to say about their service; very good and prompt response to customer’s queries. If the speed of your broadband is poor, it ultimately affects the quality of your VoIP. well, I hope you’re happy with the service you’re getting where you’re based now.

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