Better Business Bureau ejects ViaTalk

In July, the impending demise of a national Voice Over Internet Protocol service provider brought a

In July, the impending demise of a national Voice Over Internet Protocol service provider brought a windfall of new customers to ViaTalk, a smaller local rival.

The collapse of SunRocket in Vienna, Va., also resulted in a surge of consumer complaints about an overwhelmed ViaTalk.

The number of complaints racked up to 185 and prompted the Better Business Bureau’s board of directors last month to eject the Clifton Park VoIP firm from its network of accredited businesses.

“The sudden closure of SunRocket thrust ViaTalk into the national spotlight as we tried to assist many thousands of customers SunRocket left stranded,” ViaTalk Chief Executive Officer Brendan Brader said in a statement.

“Many of the problems reported were a result of our unwillingness to outsource customer service operations and our unwillingness to sacrifice long-term viability by growing faster than we should,” he added.

But BBB Upstate New York President David Polino said the high volume of customer complaints over ViaTalk services predated the demise of SunRocket. And the nonprofit organization’s directors did not sympathize with the new customer deluge ViaTalk faced last summer.

“Frankly, the bureau cannot concern itself with that. People were complaining,” Polino said.

The BBB, which upholds standards for fair and honest business behavior, expelled 17 upstate businesses from its network, including Advantage Home Improvement in Stillwater and Tech Valley Excavating in Clifton Park. ViaTalk joined the BBB in August 2005.

The BBB consists of about 6,500 accredited businesses in good standing. Less than 30 percent of them have ever been the target of a complaint.

Brader said ViaTalk has been strengthening its locally based customer service operation, bringing call wait times down to five to seven minutes. He said many problems are being resolved within 24 hours.

Brader and ViaTalk Chief Technology Officer John Reyes — two Shenendehowa High School graduates — created the VoIP firm in 2005. Prior to that, while at the University at Albany in 1999, they developed the Web hosting service

Reach Gazette reporter James Schlett at 395-3040 or [email protected]

Categories: Business

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