Cellular Agony

Dealing with Phone Companies

Ever been cheated by a phone company?

Posted by Paula on June 11, 2014

Ever been cheated by a phone company?

I bet tons of people have. In Israel, problems seem particularly bad. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that at least 50% of all Israelis have been cheated…and because of the additional challenge of interacting in another language, I bet at least 80% of immigrants (new and old) can answer that question in the positive. To date, we have been cheated by all three of the major phone companies. That has to be some kind of a record.

We were really insulted when Cellcom overcharged us for 8,000 NIS for a service we had canceled. When we tried to get the money refunded – they told us we had to sign up for another three years. We eventually got the money back, but by then, we’d moved on to Orange, thinking nothing could be worse than Cellcom.

Things went bad with Orange right from the start…when they took our 16 regular Cellcom lines and registered 75 lines – most of which we obviously never received, and I won’t mention the forged signature. By then, we thought nothing could be worse than Orange – they even made Cellcom look good! We never really resolved it with Orange and finally, we pulled out and went to Pelephone with all sorts of promises…most of which they have now broken.

But as bad as Orange was – and honestly, I thought NOTHING could be worse – what happened yesterday in Pelephone’s Talpiot office in Jerusalem is so very bad. It goes beyond the horrible service and the fact that they canceled many discounts without telling us so that our monthly bill increased almost 300%.

It goes beyond the ignored requests to speak to a manager and their ongoing refusal to cancel services we weren’t using. Yesterday, my husband walked into the Talpiot office – we have the whole thing in an audio recording – and spoke to Moshiko, the manager.

Moshiko immediately tried to sell my husband 12 tablets…and then insisted, “yes or no…yes or no…yes or no” – to my husband’s attempts to communicate further. My husband is an amazing man, wise, capable and determined to make himself understood even though his Hebrew isn’t at a great level.

Moshiko didn’t want to understand – he wanted to perform in front of his employees; he wanted to embarrass my husband. And he did. When my husband informed him that he was recording his ongoing attempt to cancel Pelephone services, Moshiko switched tactics, “This is Cellcom,” he responded. “This is Cellcom. This is Cellcom,” to the laughter of his crowd.

No, actually, what that was, was an immature man given a ridiculous amount of responsibility and little sense of decency. We immigrants from the West came to live in this country out of love and dedication. When we moved here, we made a choice to settle in predominantly Hebrew-speaking communities to help our children acclimate more quickly. And we found work quickly so that we could support ourselves at a time when there were no major financial institutions helping immigrants beyond a small rent subsidy and a small one-time payment for shipping our possessions. No grand welcoming ceremonies and grants given, no politicians meeting our plane.

We found work by taking advantage of whatever skills we had – and some of those skills included our ability to communicate in English. This was good for our financial viability but bad for our own ability to acclimate into a society whose native tongue remained difficult to learn. Despite these ongoing challenges, we created a company that has helped hundreds of other olim find work and remain here in Israel.

I challenge Pelephone to either fire this Moshiko for his insensitive and rude treatment of a customer, or demand that Moshiko call my husband and beg his forgiveness. Moshiko can chalk it up to a moment of insanity, a moment when he let his mouth overpower his brain.

In the last 8 hours, I have heard from over a dozen people who have left Pelephone citing the treatment they received. I wonder if the CEO of Pelephone is named Moshiko too.

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Leaving Pelephone

Posted by Paula on June 10, 2014

We decided to leave Pelephone and are now investigating possibilities. We won’t go back to Orange – not if they gave us 10 years of free service and 15 letters of apology. We considered Cellcom. We have called Golan and Rami Levy – both possibilities.

We decided to give Pelephone one last try. New members can join for 50 shekels a month…they’ll offer us 65 shekels to continue. Yeah, that’s great.

My husband went today to the Talpiot office of Pelephone to speak to them. And met an incredibly insulting manager. When he saw my husband was recording the conversation – the manager took the loudspeaker and started calling out “We’re Cellcom” – “We’re Cellcom” – “We’re Cellcom” –  most of the other Pelephone workers laughed though at least the security guard had the decency to look embarrassed.

Pelephone – what do you do, hire 5-year-olds to manage your offices?

How insulting!

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Pelephone Joins Hall of Shame

Posted by Paula on June 8, 2014

We’ve been debating what to do as the Pelephone contract comes to an end for our company.  As we began evaluating our contract and bills, we noticed that they had stopped honoring their contract and the agreement.

Gone was our direct business contact.

Gone was the agreement to have an English speaker provided to us – the company now repeatedly tells us they have no one who can speak in English.

More upsetting – gone are the discounts they promised would last the full term of the contract – and of course they canceled these without notice so that our bills have steadily climbed from a regular 800 shekels a month to our last one which was 2,000 NIS – for the same amount of lines.

What is this, Orange all over again?

 

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August 2013 – No Word

Posted by Paula on August 5, 2013

Still waiting for the letter that is supposed to end this absurdity. Victor said we should get it…we haven’t.

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Update – July, 2013 – Salvation?

Posted by Paula on July 15, 2013

It’s been almost 18 months since I posted. During that time, for the most part, two things have been happening:

1. We’ve been happy Pelephone subscribers. Once we had a problem where we found they had over-billed us. We called them to complain thinking we’d begun the slippery slope into hell with yet another cell phone company. They were polite. They apologized. They fixed the debit the following month with a credit.

2. We’ve been receiving Orange bills on and off. For what imagined service, God alone knows. I’m not even convinced that Orange knows! The bill when we left Orange was somewhere around 40,000 NIS (that’s about $12,000). By now, it’s climbed to over 85,000 NIS (over $20,000). You have to give them credit for creativity on this one. No services, no phone calls – and yet it still manages to go up thousands of NIS per month? No clue.

So every once in a while, triggered either by a comment or story I hear, or triggered by yet another bill – I’ll go on Twitter and Facebook and complain about the rotten service we got, the ridiculous bill, etc.

During this time, Orange contacted us a few times, set meetings with their lawyers – to which we usually responded…bring it on…and then a day or so before the meeting, they called to cancel it. No progress. I was waiting for them to sue us, ready to gather up the mountains of emails, mistakes, etc. ready…but not anxious.

Two weeks ago, I had another twitter flutter and once again got the innocuous response that they’re sorry we’ve had trouble and if we send them a private note with our phone number, they’ll be happy to call. So been there, done that…so don’t want to go and do it again.

But whatever…so I wrote them and Victor called me. On the one hand, I didn’t want to go through the whole story again; on the other hand, it all poured out – along with a fair amount of anger for all the suffering we have gone through.

Victor said he’d call me back. I didn’t believe him. It wouldn’t be the first time Orange said they’d call back; it wouldn’t be the tenth. Perhaps somewhere in the 30s or 40s, who knows?

A few days later, Victor called back. I was shocked. I was amazed. And then, I was even more amazed. According to Victor, the week before, Orange closed our account and canceled the invoice. I decided to be cautiously optimistic, hopeful. I would get a letter from Orange confirming this in the next few days.

Could you send this to me now? No…

I waited a few days and a letter from Orange came…it had a coupon for 70 NIS to spend in their store. I couldn’t believe it.

I posted on Twitter – you tell me you’re canceling an 85,000 NIS bill and instead you send me a coupon for 70 NIS? Seriously????

Victor called me back. He said I misunderstood. That the billing period ends on the 13th of the month and within a week after that, I should receive a credit notification. Could this be the end? After so many years of agony – could we finally be nearing the end of this misery?

Stay tuned, I guess…

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January 2012…still not solved

Posted by Paula on January 9, 2012

A few updates. First – nothing has happened with Orange towards resolution. We got a letter threatening to sue us for over 80,000 NIS. We called the lawyers office, only to find it was more answering service than a legal agency and the secretary wanted to handle our call.

Your lawyer took the time to write or at least sign a letter, I told the woman – have her call me.

“I can handle this,” she told me.

“No, you can’t,” I responded.

Two days later, the lawyer called and almost as soon as she said her name, I blasted her with as much of the story as I could get out. Go ahead and sue me, I told her – God help you.

She said she wanted to meet with us…and then two days or so before the meeting, they called to cancel, promising to reschedule. I’m pretty sure I posted this part already – of course, Orange being Orange, they never rescheduled.

That was months ago. I was so disgusted – yet again, but the unprofessional and simply cruel way they conduct business, I wrote a letter to the Ministry of Communication. It took several more weeks, but suddenly, Orange started calling us asking for a meeting.

Of course, they never set a date; and of course they never called back. Orange remains.

Today, I got a Twitter post – after posting a wonderful article detailing a legal firm initiating a lawsuit for 400 million shekels against Orange. The post from Orange:

If you can’t read it, it says @ASoldiersMother (that’s me on Twitter) Hello, we’re sorry about your experience. Pls send you number via DM (direct message) and we will contact you soon.

Of course, I’ve send them the number before – they never contacted us.

Of course, I checked their twitter feed; it is filled with the same post – again and again, to others.

I hope that lawyer wins; I hope Orange loses – more, I wish they would just release us from the agony of their sending bills to us, but ignoring us endlessly.

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Orange Refuses to Cooperate with Israeli Army

Posted by Paula on June 23, 2011

Why am I not surprised?

Israel is a nation at war – it always has been and some say, sadly, it always will be. The Israeli army is one of the best in the world – not because we love war (we don’t), but because we have no choice.

Yesterday there was a national drill. Our country simulated a major attack across the entire land…one that we all fear will come one day. The air raid sirens sounded in the morning and again at night.

The army is constantly looking for ways to improve and one of those improvements includes alerting civilians immediately of an incoming attack. How brilliant, the army thought, it would be to use everyone’s cellular phones. So they approached the cell phone companies and asked them to cooperate. Two of the major ones agreed – Cellcom and Pelephone understand. The army requested to send the following message to all cellular phone users: “Drill — have a nice day, from the Homefront Command.”

Orange/Partner refused to cooperate – how pathetic!

Yesterday there was a national drill. Our country simulated a major attack across the entire land…one that we all fear will come one day. The air raid sirens sounded in the morning and again at night.

In a real emergency, many in our country would be alerted – all cellular phone users…except those unfortunate enough to have chosen Orange as their cellular phone carrier.

The full story of Orange’s pathetic refusal to cooperate can be found here:
http://en.trend.az/regions/met/israel/1894578.html

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Sad and Expected Update

Posted by Paula on June 23, 2011

It’s been a while since I updated this blog. The fact is, we moved 8 lines to Pelephone and have been immensely satisfied with their service. What a refreshing break from the horrors of dealing with Orange and Partner!

Pelephone made an accounting error – they took about 4,000 NIS from our account without permission. It literally made my husband sick. Not again. Oh God, I thought, not again! We called them up – we sent emails – no one got back to us. This can’t be happening again, we thought. Do I need to add a page for Pelephone here?

And then – they answered. They came to a meeting – and even before they did, they admitted they made a mistake and credited us for the amount. No, this is not Orange and no, this is not happening again.

See, there is life – and justice – after dealing with Orange. We still technically have 8 lines with Orange, but since they cut them off, we have yet to understand why we should have to pay for them – and, in fact, Orange can take those numbers and do whatever they want. All the people have replaced their service with another and gone to the tremendous inconvenience of telling everyone their new numbers.

Orange – you are such a failure!

As to the update – we got a letter from a lawyer from Orange. When we called, we were told we could not speak to the lawyer, but could talk to Stella. She handles the letters.

“Are you a lawyer?” we asked her.

“No,” she answered.

“Fine, we want to speak to the lawyer who sent us the letter.”

A week later, the lawyer finally called and I told her to read this blog, to read the emails, to be prepared to explain why on the same day we got a letter from the lawyer saying we owed 85,000 NIS, we got a bill from Orange saying we owed 48,000 NIS.

Be prepared, I said to her, to explain how Orange took 16 lines and turned them into 75 – and billed for all of them long after they were told about the dishonest of their representatives.

Be prepared, I told her with anger, to deal with the fury for the agony your client has caused, the damage.

Be prepared to explain the forgeries – the illegal use of electronic signatures and the straight outright forgery of my name on one document.

Be prepared.

She called back to schedule a meeting next week with a representative of Partner.

They will come to our offices – hopefully prepared – I know we will be. Prepared with all the facts, evidence, and anger.

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Emails from Others

Posted by Paula on April 12, 2011

I am amazed at how many emails, Facebook comments and Twitter tweets I get detailing ways in which people have been cheated by Orange. Here’s the latest from a woman named Shira:

I have been lied to by several agents at Orange. I think that’s how they make their money. Most recently was at the end of January, when they were trying to pressure me into taking a plan with a contract – the guy was telling me that there is a new law in Israel, that would be going into effect on Feb 1st, whereby communications companies would not be allowed to hold ppl under contract. I then got a manager calling me back trying to pressure me into signing up for this “1 year” contract that would supposedly be automatically voided on Fed 1st – not only did she keep changing the time limit of her offer, but it was a complete lie! There are also services on my acct that I’ve cancelled but am still being billed for. I’m switching to Cellcom once I get up the koach [strength] to deal with it…”

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An Update

Posted by Paula on April 4, 2011

About a week ago, my mother got a phone call. It was from a lawyer who said he represented Orange. He wanted to know who the owner was and who he could talk to about outstanding invoices. My mother was partially amused, partially amazed. Isn’t it funny that Orange and all cellular phone companies are careful to designate “Contact” people – and suddenly, their own lawyer doesn’t have a clue who to speak to, “do your own work and figure it out,” she told the lawyer.

A few minutes later, my father’s phone rang and my mother answered it, “You again?” the lawyer asked. Again, my mother refused to give him my name or phone number. He called my son next, eventually my husband. He never did call my number.

A week ago, on one day, I received two envelopes from Orange – one was for a bill – the latest they claim we owe them is about 48,000 NIS (about $15,000). Amazingly enough, despite disconnecting 8 phone lines and not using any of the remaining…67 they have magically assigned to us, or bills still hover in the thousands of shekels mark. But the really funny thing was the second envelope. This was from the lawyer who claims we owe over 80,000 NIS.

Meanwhile, we have moved 8 lines to Pelephone and are receiving lower bills and better service – hey, at least they actually answer us and when they say they will call back, they do!

In the meantime, we have identified another name of someone similarly cheated by Orange using the same representative. And so life continues. The lawyer we first discussed the case with won’t work – sadly, our wonder workers seem to have broken up their company. The very helpful one has left; the other refuses to answer our emails. Luckily, we insisted on their writing up their conclusions that we can use in court to details Orange’s faulty and criminal actions.

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