Now that it appears that 75,000 Canadian netTALK customers have their phone service back, I think it’s time to take a look at this whole situation and see what we now know from this experience.
The first thing that we now know is that netTALK’s as a company isn’t on stable ground. And that comes through by its own admission in documents filed with the SEC. In fact, a lot of their dirty laundry got exposed as part of this, and it doesn’t paint a pretty picture. That combined with the fact that Walmart and Best Buy have allegedly stopped selling their products in Canada (Please note that I am still awaiting confirmation of that) and all the negative press they’ve received means one simple thing: They will have trouble retaining customers and attracting new customers will be difficult, if not impossible. Now to be fair, they have promised to compensate Canadian customers who were affected by this outage, but that may not mean much if they aren’t around to follow through. And it may be too late as many of those consumers are considering other VoIP options. And that may hasten netTALK’s demise. One other thing that’s worth considering is the fact that netTALK is now in bed with Primus who just went into Chapter 15 bankruptcy. That has to give one cause to pause.
The second thing that we know is that a company by the name of Iristel exists. Prior to this episode I have never heard of this company, and I am sure the average Canadian hadn’t heard of them either. But as part of looking into this matter, I ended up talking to their PR guy, their VP of Operations, and trading Tweets with their CEO. On the upside, they came across for the most part as straight shooters, and everything they said was on the level for the most part. The downers in this were the fact that they let netTALK run up a $2 million bill before pulling the plug and starting this whole nightmare. That was likely not the smartest thing for them to do. Though I suspect, the prior relationship of Samer Bishay with netTALK as he was at one time the President of netTALK and is now the CEO of Iristel has something to do with that. Not to mention that Bishay’s bombastic style of tweeting rubbed people the wrong way. On that front, my advice to him is to get someone else to do his social media for him. In any event, this company is now on the map. But I suspect not in an entirely positive way. They will have some fence mending to do with the Canadian public going forward. Good luck with that.
The third thing that came of this is the CRTC and the CCTS and their lack of will and ability in terms of making sure that Canadians have reliable telecommunication services. I discovered that the CRTC threatened netTALK with “enforcement action” back in 2013 because they didn’t join the CCTS. But here we are in 2016 and no “enforcement action” appears to have been taken. You have to wonder why that was and if it could have stopped this whole gong show from happening? Plus during this whole debacle, you never got the sense that the CRTC had no ability or will to resolve this other than putting out a few Tweets saying that they were talking to the parties involved. As for the CCTS, I got numerous e-mails, comments, and even a complete chat log from a reader where he recorded a conversation between him and the CCTS where the CCTS said that they couldn’t help in this situation. That means that both of Canada’s telecommunications regulatory bodies are broken and are in desperate need of reform. Something that frequent readers of this blog know that I have been saying for years. This episode highlights the fact that Canadians need change in that area and we need it now. I hope that the Federal Government is listening and will take action on that front because Canadians deserve better.
The final thing that came out of this is the fact that you have to choose your VoIP provider carefully. People go to VoIP to save money as these are very difficult economic times. I get that. But you have to do your homework. First of all, see if the provider that you want to use is a part of the CCTS participating providers list. Though the CCTS is kind of useless, at least a provider on this list is trying to be a reputable player in the Canadian telecommunications industry. But that isn’t the only place to look. In this regard, the search engine of your choice is your friend. Everything I found out about netTALK and Iristel was found via Google very easily. You can really find out a lot about a telecom provider just by spending the time to look. Finally, if the price is too good to be true, it likely is. After all, being a telecom isn’t a low cost business. The price that you pay has to reflect that. So If the VoIP service that you’re considering is substantially lower than others, that should make you say “hmmmm.”
Finally, I would like to say thanks to all the people who read this blog and follow me on Twitter. A special thanks go to those who sent me feedback and tips on this issue. The tips that you provided allowed me to follow this story and uncover new information for you. I really appreciate each and every single one of you and I hope I’ve been of service to you in this matter. I also hope to be of service to you going forward.
Now back to our regularly scheduled blogging and reviewing of everything from smartphones to cars. I hope.
UPDATE: Primus reached out to me tonight to say this: