Skype will never succeed as a replacement for your home phone…

…so long as they’re happy to just “block” people’s accounts and prevent them from using the service.

Last night I tried calling my wife and I kept getting “call failed”. So I tried from my computer, thinking my Skype phone was screwy. I got the dreaded “account blocked” message.

I rely exclusively on Skype for my phone. I have a San Francisco SkypeIn number, a Brisbane SkypeIn number, a Skype home phone and I also rely on Skype To Go to make international calls from my mobile phone. Aside from my T-mobile bill, they now get all of my telecommunications money.

Regardless of my long-term account which has always been dutifully topped up using their auto-billing, for a reason they never both communicating to me, they have completely blocked any internal or external calls aside from Skype to Skype.

The worst aspects to this are:

  • No notification of the blocking event
  • No explanation for the blocking
  • No customer support to get the account unblocked

I had to file a support ticket requesting they unblock my account.  There are no standard mechanisms for doing this – I had to go to support and select “Other help”.  I emailed a few people at Skype directly, but haven’t heard back from them either.  Other people in the same predicament reported between 4-10 days to get their account unblocked.  In the meantime I am completely without home phone service or international calling.  I am surprised I hadn’t heard of this before it happened to me — I can only imagine as they keep doing this to people they will continue to drive away customers to other VOIP solutions or cell phones.

Update 09/25/08:

Well, first of all I found out there is a dedicate help section for unblocking your account, but it amounts to the same as selecting other help.

Secondly, thank you to Peter in the comments for offering to help out which is very nice indeed.  After filing two tickets, I got in contact with Peeter Mõtsküla who was gracious enough to contact support for me and help resolve the problem.

I also found out the reason my account was blocked.  A couple of months ago I had some fraudulent activity on one of my credit cards.  As such I was issued a new card, but I decided to close the account.  As such when my autobill went through it got rejected and Skype emailed me to let me know that on August 16th.  Either way I think this would have been triggered since the original credit card number was no longer valid.

The weirdest thing is that it wasn’t until September 18th that my account was blocked due to the credit card rejection.  No ‘invalid’ funds had been withdrawn, and everything was fine otherwise.  Pretty frustrating stuff, but good to know Skype has some great people working for them!

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One Response to Skype will never succeed as a replacement for your home phone…

  1. Peter Parkes (Skype Blogger) says:

    I’m sorry that the way we tell people their accounts are blocked isn’t great – it’s something we’re discussing at the moment, and if we can find a way of making things clearer without making it easier for fraudsters to abuse the system we will :)

    In any case, please email me or ping me on Skype with your username and I’ll get the support team to take a look into what’s gone on with your account.

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