Open Letter to Vlad Shmunis, CEO, RingCentral

Color me surprised: Last week Wednesday (the 21st) I spent about half an hour on the phone with RingCentral’s Phillipines-based “customer retention” group since I was canceling my account (here is why). You’ve probably already guessed but I just received an invoice and yep, the account didn’t get canceled and I was invoiced for the full month!

So now I’m on the phone again with Philippines-based call center going through the same cancellation process. There was a “system glitch” last time apparently. This time the system must have worked because, after 30 minutes on the phone again, call center rep “Juan” got my account canceled.

By the way, if you are a small business, don’t bother with RingCentral. They are continuing to accelerate toward mid-market and larger companies, and they really don’t have time for you.

Here is Mr. Shmunis in 2013 being asked the question about SMBs (small to midsize business) and he certainly makes it seem like he’s interested in the “S” part of the market, but they are not:

The Yealink phone system arrived Tuesday afternoon and a meeting was set with the technical manager John (see July 11th Update). He and I spent close to an hour today and got the Yealink added to our phone system. Everything works. He clearly invested additional time to ensure that *everything* functioned, that our account didn’t have superfluous items on it, and really went out of his way to be accommodating. Thank you John.

While I know we’re a small business and the technical aspects of RingCentral—and that only accounts with “20 Users or more” get U.S.-based tech support—tells me that this company is targeting larger customers and has to…unless they find ways to make their processes, phone upgrades and tech support better. Those target customers are probably mid-market ones, usually $50M and above. While I don’t blame them for moving in that direction, we small business users are always sucking-hind-teat when it comes to drinking of the technology milk that will help us to be more competitive and productive.

Many large companies pay lip-service to “we’re going after SMB” (Small to Mid-size Business) but they always discover that—unless their self-help and community management is world-class—that catering to a small revenue/high maintenance customer base rarely pays off. I think that’s changing as more and more of us become more technical, but will continue to challenge us all in the world of tech…including our pals at RingCentral.

I received a call late today from John, a technical manager at RingCentral, and he was terrific. He apologized for the difficulty I’d had, helped me buy the Yealink phone system, listened to my additional complaints and suggestions, and all is (or will be) well when the Yealink phone arrives next week.

Turns out that if I had purchased the Yealink with RC’s Philipines tech support folks, the phone would have immediately been provisioned, shut off our Cisco ATAs, and we would have had NO phone service until the Yealink arrived! It is gotcha-after-gotcha like that which RingCentral must fix…or they’d better hire A LOT of guys like John to spend an hour or so with every customer.

ringcentral-logoAs a RingCentral (RC) customer since May of 2010, we have enjoyed your service and its capabilities. After my initial 40-50 hours of working with your Philippines-based support folks (yes, it was that painful to setup), we finally got everything up and functioning with our two lines (using Cisco analog telephone adapters), our 800#, fax line, and extensions. It has worked quite well ever since and we’ve evangelized RC to many clients and friends, many of whom have signed up with your service.

But man…is it ever hard to upgrade! Though we have had few issues with RC and little need to contact tech support, dealing with your folks in the Philippines is virtually impossible when it comes to upgrading our service or buying new phones!

yealinkCase in point: A few weeks ago I get a marketing email from William Yu at RC. We had already decided to upgrade from the Cisco ATAs to the Yealink W52P cordless phone system which you offer, so this email spurred me to action. Buying a new phone system like this simple one should be a quick and easy transaction, right? Not if you’re dealing with your folks in the Philippines who seem to have the hardest time conceptualizing what all this magic VoIP stuff does apparently, and RC specifically.

After a pre-sale discussion I had with RCs Celina Conde on June 23rd, she started a help ticket (Case 02739365) since she, nor anyone above her in support, had any clue about the Yealink. All I wanted to know was this:

  • Initial Call: Will this phone accommodate our two lines? Celina, her “training manager”, and a Level III tech support person she connected me to had no idea, even though:
    • Your RC website says that it will allow “Up to 4 simultaneous calls per base” but no one knew what this meant. Is that 4 lines? No one knew.
    • While on with your folks I went to the Yealink website and learned that the user guide (please see page 18-19 of the PDF) spelled out that the phone can have up to 5 lines in 1 base. Didn’t matter, nobody could tell me how it worked or what to do.
  • Response 1: Joy Catan in your support adds this to the case: “For your issue, in order for the phone to use 2 line, you need to have 2 digital lines assigned on the 2 lines of the phone.” GREAT! This means it works, right? I update the case on June 28th via the web but, for some reason, my responses are not recorded. (yes, I’m suspicious they were deleted)
  • Response 2: The case moves through a resolution phase while I’m traveling over the 4th of July holiday week. I receive a call this morning from RCs Ryan Portillo. Clearly wanting to drive this case to resolution, he tells me in no uncertain terms that, “That phone system cannot do more than one line.”
    • I tell Portillo, “NO…that is NOT correct and this case should NOT be closed.”

What do I receive via email a few minutes later from Portillo?

As per discussion, you have informed me that your concern on this ticket cannot be set up because of the limitation of the system. You also mentioned that you deal with the support over the phones but then it did not answer your questions. I review your account, and it shows that we advised you that we cannot provide to you this settings on the Yealink phones.

Adding in, I also consulted the support team and I get the same advise. I sincerely apologize if we cannot set it up for you. As our agreement we can close the case for you. Your case will now be set to the closed status.

Vlad Shmunis CEO at RingCentral, Inc.

Vlad Shmunis
CEO, RingCentral, Inc.

WTF? That is not what I told Mr. Portillo, that is not what support said about the “settings on the Yealink phones”, and Portillo having “consulted the support team” means that either he is lying or your support people are totally and completely clueless about the Yealink phones (or can’t read documentation).

Going through your community forum shows that there are A LOT of people quite unhappy about your support services. So while you should be congratulated on your Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year nomination, I’d suggest paying some attention to your attrition rate…since it is likely to spike with this sort of experience being more common than I’d have expected.

Would be interested in your thoughts and comments below. Thanks.

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  1. alan geeves on July 9, 2014 at 9:39 pm

    Phone systems are my trade and although I don’t know this system in particular and can’t do anything to actually help I can make the following observations.

    The following is from the front page of the Yealink website:

    • Exceptional HD sound with wideband technology
    • Up to 4 simultaneous external calls
    • Up to 5 DECT cordless handsets
    • Up to 5 VoIP accounts
    • 1.8″ color display with intuitive user interface
    • 10 hours talk time, 100 hours standby time
    • Integrated PoE (Class 1

    Desktop or wall mountable
    Also it quotes that it is based on the following open source sip based voip technology: Broadsoft, Asterisk, 3CX

    What this means is that the Yealink works much like a traditional PBX system except that its incoming trunks are supplied via voip SIP accounts. The Telco (in this case FC) only has to supply to the system installer the line and authorisation info which allows the system to connect to up to 5 SIP accounts and map these to the up to 5 phones. There is a traffic limitation only allowing 4 calls which may be sip line to outside world or sip line to sip line. If a 5 call was attempted it would most probably receive congestion.

    In a normal situation the system installer would get the customer to obtain the sip info from the Telco and programme the system and all would work. When the installer is also the Telco it should make everything 10 times easier.

    Obviously this isn’t what’s happening.

    When the long standing Telco in New Zealand had 2 other companies start trading in direct competition they would go out of there way to prove they were better than the others and of course the other 2 did likewise. Result was excellent service for all. Nowdays though what I see seems to suggest that instead of trying to outdo each other they are looking over each others shoulder to see what the others are getting away with. Your blog shows this situation is not unique to New Zealand.

  2. George Heber on October 13, 2014 at 2:33 pm

    I am disappointed by ring central tech support and their service. I was with Verizon and moved tomRing Central. It’s more than 9 months. My out going caller ID is not working. At least 5 times we contacted. Not resolved. It was perfectly alright with Verizon. I like ring central service. Is there any person can resolve this issue? If not I may go back to Verizon

  3. Steve Borsch on October 13, 2014 at 3:20 pm

    RingCentral’s tech support is in the Philippines. Unfortunately the support folks don’t really understand what’s going on with the service and what a customer is trying to achieve.

    The CallerID thing is often a holdover from where your number was ported from and to RingCentral. If you did not port your number, they should absolutely help you.

  4. Jeanavive on August 18, 2015 at 10:07 pm

    I was just googling my RingCentral Account rep since I did not find her on Linked-in and found this commentary.

    I have been working with Celina Conde and she has been wonderful…RingCentral offers a lot of great FAQ on how everything works, but I just wasn’t finding the time to read it, but she had reached out personally after I signed up, as well suggesting a call, but I said email was best and she was effectively answering my quick little email questions that I was getting out between my busy schedule which I was sending from my I-phone so very abbreviated…she was even helping me find a suitable/available Vanity number…she offered several suggestions which was above and beyond my expectations, and honestly I was surprised I wasn’t bothering her, she was patient and helpful…so if she is remote in the Philippines, I am doubly impressed, I applaud her and those who trained her. Makes a little consulting co. like me, feel big and appreciated for my very small service subscription.

  5. Jae on September 5, 2016 at 9:33 am

    Its such a shame that this appears to be still an issue. The offshore contact centre are a complete disgrace, no flexibility, don’t respond to emails, not willing to assist or think about long term future contracts. Such a shame really as we were on the verge of signing a 2 year deal guaranteeing them income and am now staying firmly put on our monthly plan!

  6. Ken Maynard on November 29, 2016 at 7:14 am

    Negative marketing option triggers a downward chain of events. I have now left RingCentral after 6 years. It all started with a marketing email from RC in April 2016 where they say they are aligning there plans and that I am to rely if I want to keep my existing features. Like so many marketing emails we get this one slipped by me.

    I personally think negative option marketing to existing customers is unethical and disrespectful, basically its a backdoor way of getting a price increase. A few months pass by and one day I find that the Ring Central feature that supports integration to my Zoho CRM stopped working.

    After a few hours of tracking down the issue I learn I must upgrade my account with RingCentral to get the features back. The cost was now going to be almost double.

    Ringcentral support staff was of no help. After a few emails exchanged with some executives I found emails for on the net and linkedin I did get some relief on the costs. However I was still burning from the fact I have to pay more for the same features.

    So i reviewed all services at Ringcentral and discovered that if I move my 800 service and my other dial in only numbers I use to track advertizing to Twilio I would save a few bucks. Well they say you never truly know someone until you breakup with them. Well it somes moving services away from Ring Central is like a divorce. High Conflicts and drama.

    I am now moving all my services away from RingCentral to where the costs is mere fraction of that of Ringcentral. offers zero support and does not charge for support it does not deliver. Unlike Ringcentral that charges very high service costs promises support and delivers hmmm. excuses

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