Vonage to pay $100m for making it nearly impossible to cancel internet phone services

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Vonage has agreed to cough up $100 million to customers for making it nearly impossible to cancel their internet phone service, according to a proposed court order.

The Ericsson subsidiary, which provides Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) to folks and small businesses, automatically bills customers for these services every month, according to a US Federal Trade Commission complaint. These bills range from $5 to $50 for consumers, and businesses pay upwards of thousands of dollars each month.

While the telecoms giant makes it really easy to sign up for their phone services — consumers can enroll online, on their own, without any agent assistance — Vonage, since at least 2015, “failed to provide a simple method for customers to cancel their telephone services,” the American consumer watchdog agency claimed [PDF].

The VoIP biz used “a panoply of hurdles, sometimes referred to as dark patterns, to keep customers on the hook and prevent them from stopping the monthly charges, the FTC alleged.