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Since my posts to their forum keep getting deleted, I’ll post here.

Here’s what happened:

August 10: I created a free account (nriley).

August 12: Happy with the service, I created another free account for my father (griley).

Because I liked the service so much, I decided to upgrade to a paid service—supporting automatic failover and more features.

August 27: I created an account the two of us could share (riley) and attempted to upgrade it to paid, after which I planned on deleting the individual accounts, so there was no interruption in service. Despite this thread, which makes it pretty clear their customers are asking for additional payment providers, the only choice is PayPal.

Only after attempting to pay via PayPal, I got an email that PBXes required my PayPal account be verified (that is, linked with a bank account). I’ve never had any other payee require I have a verified PayPal account, but I imagine they’ve had their share of fraud, so I understood. I don’t trust PayPal with my primary bank account information, so I ended up using a separate bank account for the purpose. This took a few weeks as I had to get the bank account set up for online access so I could observe the PayPal deposits.

While PBXes ordinarily provides absolutely no way to contact them without paying them money (via PayPal) first, PayPal does require a contact email address be included in the transaction receipt; I emailed this address asking about other payment methods, but received no response.

Over the intervening weeks, PBXes “discovered” that I had multiple accounts created and began to automatically disable them for TOS violations.

  • August 31: Received an email that griley would be disabled (same name/email/postal address as riley).
  • September 1: Received an email that riley would be disabled.
  • October 1: Received an email that nriley would be disabled (different name/email/postal address from griley and riley).

Keep in mind the riley account had never been used (except for my abortive attempt to pay for it). The original two accounts, nriley and griley were in use by two different people (myself and my father) so they didn’t violate the TOS at all. If I really wanted to violate the TOS, do you think I would have used the exact same, valid name and address information!?

Here’s what the account blocking email looks like:

we noticed that you created more than one account at PBXes.                     
That is welcome but also creates considerable load on our servers.              
Better would be to stay under a single account as written in our                
Terms of Service.                                                               
You can delete or upgrade the additional account                                
to paid within the next 5 days. Otherwise we are going to disable it.           
Thanks for your cooperation.                                                    

What is not clear from this are some properties of a “disabled” account:

  • If you try to call a phone number associated with this disabled account from another PBXes account, the call does not go through, even if the call would not ordinarily be routed through PBXes.
  • You can’t reuse any SIP trunk associated with this disabled account in another account.
  • You can’t view or edit any settings associated with the disabled account to remove this trunk or copy the information to another account.
  • You can’t even delete the account.

So, not only was my father’s account blocked, but I was unable to call his phone number from my PBXes account.

Eventually I got the bank account added to PayPal, and the shared account paid for, then PBXes had its own verification which took a further few days, which thankfully happened in time for me to cancel nriley and move over to riley without any interruption in service. My father had no such luck; as you can see above, he was without phone service for nearly a month.

After getting the paid account set up, I made three requests via messages on PBXes’ forum (since there was no other way to contact PBXes short of paying for support, and several other similar account-related messages were responded to, for example this one).

  • On Friday, I asked if my father’s account could be unblocked so I could copy the settings out of it. This post was initially locked to replies without a response, but remained in the forum.
  • Today, I asked if my father’s account could be deleted so the trunk could be accessible to my account. This post was deleted without a response several minutes later.
  • Finally, I posted a longer version of the second post, which made it clearer my purpose was simply to make use of the account I had already paid for, as well as including conciliatory statements such as “I’m not trying to make any trouble” and expressing my frustration about the hoops I had to jump through. This post was deleted immediately, then shortly thereafter Friday’s post was deleted too with no relevant explanation.

So, my only choice was to pay for an account I did not intend to use, just for the “privilege” of deleting it.

Note at no point in this saga have I been personally addressed by any representative of PBXes/i-p-tel; just sent automated messages and left to wonder about their motivations, which at this point seem at best bizarre; at worst, malicious, bullying and extortionate (you must pay us more money to use an account you have already paid for). Certainly, it’s their company and their right, but I’d never treat a customer like this in my life.

All I can do is recommend other people stay far, far away from PBXes’ service. Of course, PBXes doesn’t offer refunds, so I’ve got to pay for a year of their service regardless, plus a month of service on griley just so I can delete the associated trunk.

5 comments on “ (PBXes, i-p-tel): horrendously bad customer service”

  1. Luksander
    5 October 2010 | 6:38 PM

    I have similar issue. I create another account for my mam but finaly She never use it. After some time I get the same message about disabling my mama’s account or delete it. I coudn’t find option how to delete the accout so I left it alone for disabling. This was fine.
    After month or so I get message My accunt will be dissabled becouse of the same reasons. And it is disable now. I cant find any phone number or email to contact them. It’s ridicules. There is only post address but I see from yours post they just piss off the customers problems and only solution is to disable account and delete posts on the forum. I was using this service over one year and I will not pay again for something which not solving my problem. I want to request to delete all my personal data and account from they servers but I don’t know how to do it. Anybody can help to contact them to delete my and my mom account?
    Please contact wcitynet @

  2. Paul
    29 November 2010 | 11:05 AM

    I have had the same issue. I paid for a premium account to use their new Google Voice trunk ability. However, it is horribly designed and spams everyone in your contact list with chat requests. Many other people in the Google Voice PBXes forum indicate the same thing. So I canceled my monthly subscription so I wouldn’t get charged again. Upon doing this, even after PAYING for a month of service, they, without contacting me, canceled my premium account which I PAID FOR. Trying to contact them I get no response so I put in a dispute with paypal only to find them disabling my PBXes account entirely several minutes later. LOL So… I pay PBXes to use a month of Premium service and I get my account canceled. I would recommend not using this service.

  3. 31 December 2011 | 9:21 PM

    PBXes is a joke of a business. If there was any other legitimate company out there who could provide you with a service like this, I’d go with them in a heartbeat. Whenever a trunk goes down or a server of theirs goes down, they send you a nasty email. Here’s an example.


    20 minutes ago service where your account lwnaven is hosted
    began experiencing significant issues.

    As a holder of a paid account normally no action is required
    when your SIP clients are registering to as recommended.
    Paid accounts have been switched to where
    a backup is running for you.

    We apologize for the outage and any inconvenience it may have caused.
    An update will be provided as soon as we have been able to fully restore
    the service.

    Best regards,

    Please do not reply to this email. This mailbox is not monitored and
    you will not receive a response. For assistance, log in to your PBXes
    account and choose the Support link.

    Basically they slap you around for being a free customer instead of being nice about it and politely suggesting an upgrade in a modest way. I’m surprised that you even tried to purchase from them. If they ever want people to upgrade from a free account, you treat your free customers with a lot of respect and you certainly don’t cut them off from contacting you about problems. I mean, if you’re getting slapped in the face every day and someone says that they will stop slapping you in the face every day for a monthly fee of $10, would you pay the $10 to stop getting slapped in the face? This is what they’re doing and thinking its perfectly fine and I’m surprised they don’t only have free customers because of it. Heck, sometimes for no reason when I call through PBXes to check why I’ve been missing calls, I get a message saying extension 200 is on the phone and it explicitly says to use extension 100. (200 doesn’t exist, mind you) and it’ll start working again when I don’t even change any settings. I even created an extension 200 and routed all calls through it and it didn’t work.

    The point of a free account is to impress your customers so much that they want more of your service and will upgrade. It isn’t to sit there on your high horse and kibitz that they’re free members. When I ran my business, money was definitely not even on my mind when I was working with my customers. My mind was focused on my quality of service and that’s what made us a success. The only reason I closed HSE is because I wanted to travel, so I gave my customers fair warning that I was closing shop and I even helped out the customers I became close with, even when the business closed up. That’s how its done.

    PBXes doesn’t even realize that some of the free customers might want to get help from other members on the forum or they could help their paid customers and take the load off of them. The free customers might even see a security breach and not be able to report it. They’re kicking their own ass with that one. They’re cyber bullies and aren’t any different from high school bullies except that you get cyber slapped instead of physically slapped around. lol

  4. Mitch
    4 February 2013 | 5:54 PM

    I stupidly made the mistake of buying 60 minutes of paid support because my configuration requirements are a bit complex, and I wanted some assistance getting things set up correctly.

    Note: you have to pre-purchase support minutes before you can even submit a request.

    Well after creating a support request almost a week ago, I have had absolutely no communications from PBXES at all.

    I plan to jump ship and find an alternative, even if it means setting up Asterisk on a VPS somewhere, but it’s frustrating to flush all that money down the drain.

  5. 4 February 2013 | 6:31 PM

    Sorry you got hoodwinked by PBXes — it still stands as the most odious online commerce interaction I’ve ever had.

    As per my more recent blog post (yeah, it’s been a while), I’ve been running Yate with FreeSentral on a Linode VPS. It’s now been nearly two years at this point, and I don’t have any complaints; things basically just work.

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