More Customer Service

After my rave about the customer service I received from Nespresso, I had a rather negative experience with Orange to report.

Internationally, telephone companies are NOT known for making things easy for their customers. Anything the “offer” you seems to be done solely to lock you in so that you can’t leave them and look for better service elsewhere.

Now, as it turns out, over the years I’ve tried a lot of different phone companies. I have eventually always gone back to the “main” company (Ma Bell deriviatives in the States, Orange/France Telecom here) because in the end, the so-called alternatives never saved me that much money and were always more complicated when things went wrong.

For mobile service, my choice has always been based on who had the best coverage in the area where I lived. Here in the Possum Kingdom, that has historically been Orange, as they seem to have more cell towers in the areas where I spend the most times. That doesn’t mean I love them, however.

Now, a good reason to remain loyal is generally because most mobile companies give you points every month so that at the end of your contract you can get a snazzy new phone for peanuts. You could do this same thing by just becoming a “new”customer somewhere else, but that has its own set of complications.

I was ready to upgrade, but we had a small problem. We had put our cell service in the name of a company we had set up to attempt to sell real estate. We realized that a: we were not very good at selling real estate, b: we didn’t actually LIKE selling real estate and c: it cost a lot of money to have a company that hadn’t earned a centime in over a year. So, we did the necessary paperwork and closed the company. But we didn’t do anything about changing our mobile service back into a “private” name.

For various, complicated Orange reasons, that meant that all my loyalty points were totally useless, because I couldn’t actually get a new phone without certain papers that no longer existed. Although you are supposedly able to do all kinds of things with your account over the internet, changing the billing name of the service is not one of them. You also can’t do it at your closest France Telecom/Orange office. The ONLY way to do it is to spend a huge amount of time on hold with Customer Disservice, who will then send you a dossier in multiple copies to fill out and send back to them.

Now, something that they seem to love to do here is to get you to agree to a direct debit for your bill. We hate direct debits. If there is ever a problem, it is never in the customer’s favor, and if there is a direct debit, getting it sorted out takes forever and a day. You can, barely, manage to get your dossier taken care of without agreeing to the direct debit, but they don’t make it easy.

Yesterday, we got a piece of paper saying that they needed a cancelled check in my name to complete the dossier. JM didn’t want to send it, because he was convinced this was a sneaky back door way of them getting their direct debit after all. However, he did call, found out that they couldn’t use the cancelled check itself as an authorization (we’re still not clear on the concept of WHY they need it in the first place) and then they asked if I wanted to change phones. Well, yeah, that’s why I went through this whole thing in the first place.

I told them what phone I wanted, which at this stage was practically free. The guy at Orange said it would be here on Wednesday and we hung up. About 20 minutes later I get an email “welcoming” me to my new “security protection” service which would be billed at 6€ per month. Say what? I certainly didn’t agree to any security protection. I asked JM, he hadn’t agreed to it either. I looked up what it covered: it doesn’t cover you dropping your phone and breaking it, it doesn’t cover you losing your phone, it doesn’t cover your dog deciding it’s the world’s best frisbee. Nope, it covers you if someone steals it at gunpoint. Hello? How much chance is there of THAT happening? And, to be honest, if it DID happen, the loss of my cell phone would be the least of my worries.

So, can you cancel that online? Nope. Can you cancel it by phone? Nope. No, you have to print out a document and send it to them within 15 days of ordering the service that you didn’t order in the first place!

Really, Orange. You can do better.

Ciao for now.


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