I have been in the communications / technology industry for 15 years and have an extensive background in telecommunications. I had a customer (school district) who’s 3Com NBX had been hit by lightning and had to be replaced. This was in the fall of 2010. At that time, I was an Avaya dealer, but was looking for a different solution for my customers. I first heard of Fonality thru my Dell rep (I am also a Dell reseller/partner). I needed a solution quick since this customer was without a phone system. I called up Fonality and spoke with a sales rep who quoted me a system. The customer had their own analog trunks so we only needed the system and not any voice services. The total system cost plus 58 Polycom IP phones was around $30,000.00. I was NOT told up front that in order to configure your system, you must connect to Fonality’s Cloud and cannot connect directly to the local PBX server to config, nor was I told up front about the extremely expensive annual support. And if you do not pay for the annual support, you’re screwed if you have a problem. I was under the impression we could pay per hour if we ever needed support after the 1st year of included support, but I was wrong. After the initial install, which was super slow due to the extremely slow response of Fonality’s Control Panel, we had several instances of not being able to make or receive calls. Again, this system was connected to the customer’s own local analog trunks and not hosted SIP trunks. So the problem each time was with the server’s corrupted config files. And, each time, calling Fonality’s Tech Support was a joke. It would take a 30-45 minute hold each time or I would have to leave my name & number and wait for a call back. Finally, after about 3-4 months from the date of the install, the system seemed to stabilize. Then, when it came time for the annual support to renew, they automatically charged $ 3,100.00 to the same credit card that was used to purchase the system without any warning or email notification. Once that was reversed, they contacted me and basically told me that if I didn’t pay for the annual support, I would be sorry. Well, finally today (1/20/2012), I was sorry. The system would not make or receive calls and when I logged into the control panel, I got an error that said “your system cannot start due to an error in the Zapata.config or zaptel.config”. And even though we bought & paid for the system, Fonality does NOT give you access to correct these kinds of issues yourself. These can only be corrected thru their tech support which we could not talk to unless we paid the $ 3,800.00 annual support (an additional $750 for a 1 time activation fee since we let the support lapse). To make an even longer story short, we paid them the $ 3,800.00, and then called their tech support which had it fixed in 2 minutes.
I don’t like the fact that Fonality forces you to pay for annual support even though we paid $ 30,000.00 for a phone system. I don’t like their slow web control panel and I don’t like their tech support. The customer (school district) is having me yank out the system this summer and replace it with an NEC.