The Five Dumbest Things on Wall Street This Week
1. Passing the Hat
Vonage (VG) is coming through loud and clear now.
Shares in the Holmdel, N.J., Internet phone company are down 31% since last week's $531 million initial public offering. Hefty competition from the likes of eBay's (EBAY) Skype has sent investors fleeing. Even Vonage's effort to turn users into owners has boomeranged.
Last month, Vonage, explaining that "much of our success is attributable to our customers," said it would cut the customers in on the IPO. But users haven't had much success with the Customer Directed Share Program.One woman says she tried to buy 5,000 shares at the IPO, but was told she got none. She checked back later -- after Vonage had dropped 13% in its first day of trading -- to find she was, in fact, the proud owner of 1,300 shares at the IPO price of $22,100. By the time she knew she owned it, though, her stock was worth just $19,305. "In my mind, I don't own this stock," the customer, Nina Shreiber, told TheStreet.com's Jonathan Berr. Evidently Vonage was of the same mind. In response to complaints, a spokesman told CNBC Tuesday that Vonage would make customers whole on the IPO. But just a day later, after legal experts scoffed at the plan, Vonage decided to stick customers with the bill instead. "To be clear," Vonage said Wednesday night, "we have not offered, and are not offering, to repurchase any of the shares of common stock from our customers." When it comes to looking out for its customers, Vonage is all talk. Dumb-o-Meter score: 93. We'll just sit out the Internet-phone revolution, thanks. To view Colin Barr's video take on Vonage's entry in Five Dumbest this week, click here.
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