Cellular Agony

Dealing with Phone Companies

Archive for December, 2010

Resolutions and Predictions

Posted by A Soldier's Mother on December 31, 2010

I’ve never really been one to get into this thing about resolutions and predictions. I figure I’m going to do what I do, try to do better, but there’s no use talking about it. As for predictions for the future, they typically are akin to fortune telling. I have no idea what the future will bring – I have enough to deal with today and what it promises.

But I’m going to break that this new year of 2011 with the following:

Resolution 1: I will not let another cell company cheat me as Orange did this past year. I will not trust their representatives who lie with such pleasant faces and smiles. The nicer they are, I have learned from the pleasant and charming Gal, the more insidious they are.

Prediction 1: I believe 2010 marks a turning point in the cellular consumer, if not the cellular companies. A recent poll showed Israelis by and large distrusted the cellular phone companies more than any other industry. A lead article in several newspapers this week covered another family that was also misled by Orange – and told their agent had died in a horrible traffic accident and his personal computer with their records was destroyed. We too were lied to constantly and are still fighting.

If 2010 was the year consumers learned to watch the cell phone companies, I believe 2011 will be the year we, the consumers, will finally be compensated for all the agony they have put us through, all the lies, etc.

Happy new year – and stay tuned.

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A Promise is a Promise is a…

Posted by A Soldier's Mother on December 30, 2010

Latest update – 5 days after shutting our phones without warning…Orange promised to open 7 of the lines within 20 minutes. We refused to give them the 10,000 NIS they demanded – after all, by our accounting, just using common sense, never mind the additional promises they gave us, they actually owe US money. They steadfastly refused to open the lines or have a manager call us – until we paid.

Our wonder workers got involved – they know the system. They know the people. They understand the numbers and how it works. Shamed into it, the Finance Department got permission to turn 7 of the lines back on – this still leaves 9 people amongst our group with no phones at all. At 7:45, they told me 20 minutes. I told people 8:15 p.m.

So, thirty minutes later, at 8:15, I checked. Nothing.

Forty minutes…nothing.

An hour later, at 8:45, I called…nothing.

Two hours and another round with Orange…nothing.

Now, almost three hours later, the phones became to come back online. All but two. A bit later, even those work – again, for incoming calls only. So, I can’t call anyone, but hey, people can call me. Til they close it again, that is.

Of course, they promised they wouldn’t do that without warning us…on the other hand…when did they ever keep their promises? So – I can be reached at my regular phone number…until I can’t be.

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You Can’t Make this Stuff Up

Posted by A Soldier's Mother on December 30, 2010

I was trying to decide whether to call this post “You Can’t Make this Stuff Up” or to call it “Large Corporation Shoots Itself in the Foot…Again.” I have to believe there is someone…that one person…in Orange who is reading this blog and groaning in agony, wondering why…why someone doesn’t just deal with this already.

So our wonder workers are working to help us. They have the patience we no longer do; the energy to follow this. They called Orange, yet again today. In the meantime, we spoke to them. “Do you know that in January, 2010 alone, you paid over 3,000 NIS for nothing?” one asked me.

Yeah. We know that. The difference is that this time, I can say it with a smile. I am so relieved to have someone else be shocked, someone else deal with this. Our wonder worker called tonight. “Orange agreed to open 7 lines for incoming calls.” This still makes communication inside the company impossible, but at least for these numbers it means that some of the embarrassment will be gone.

“What numbers do you want?” I was asked. I picked the 7 most critical number – my husband’s line and mine. Our business depends on it and we’ve already paid tens of thousands of shekels. Our soldier, who cannot be without a phone; our oldest son who volunteers for the ambulance squad and is on-call for emergencies. And on it went, picking the most critical lines – only for incoming calls.

In a joint conversation, I recited the numbers to the Orange representative from the Finance Department. I was angry and though I tried to be polite, I let it be known. I recited a number and then explained – this is the soldier’s number you cut off without warning. Another number – this is the ambulance squad volunteer. And two more – these are my elderly parents – left to travel to Haifa and back, hours on the road.

In 20 minutes, the man promised us – the phones will work. I called everyone and told them in 30 minutes – I wasn’t going to take any chances. I waited an hour – no, the lines didn’t work.

I called our contact back – at the end of this, I’ll explain more, but for now, I’ll leave them anonymous.  He called Orange back and again we gave the numbers. “They work,” said the woman on the line.

“Check them yourself,” he told her.

“They don’t work,” the woman responded after she checked. Orange strikes again. We closed the phone, sure that nothing could be solved. It’s 9:30 p.m. in Israel on a Thursday night. You can’t make this stuff up.

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A New Day

Posted by A Soldier's Mother on December 29, 2010

It’s a beautiful, partially sunny day in Jerusalem and for the first time in months, I feel like I can breathe; I finally believe we are going to resolve this. No, Orange hasn’t called. No, Orange hasn’t opened our lines. No, we are still technically suffering all the harassment and abuse. Yesterday, in a meeting with a group that has experience with dealing not only with cellular phone companies, but cellular phone company abuses, our guests sent SMS messages to some of the top people at Orange with whom we have dealt with over the last many months of agony.

Would you open their lines for two weeks while we work this out? No, Orange answered – we won’t open anything unless they pay 10,000 NIS.

But you know that they might not even OWE Orange 10,000 NIS – you said so yourself, our new friends wrote to Orange. No, Orange answered – we won’t open anything unless they pay 10,000 NIS.

At least allow them to receive incoming calls. That doesn’t cost anything in Israel and by blocking their phones, you are damaging their business for nothing. No, Orange answered.

At least, on the bright side, Orange has responded. The answer to all that was requested was no – and that’s fine. We have already re-activated one Cellcom line and purchased two Talkman phones – not Orange, thank you very much.

One of the people in the meeting yesterday suggested that we purchase Orange Talkmans – there was a deal, he  explained. No, I answered. I will not give Orange my money. No. There is, in the Israeli culture, the concept of being right and the concept of being smart. Being smart would mean buying a Turkish-made washing machine on sale; being right would say so long as that company makes itself an enemy of my country, I won’t support it in any way.

Being smart would mean purchasing the Orange Talkman – but all my life, I have sided on the side of right. No, not while they abuse us; not while they are vindictive and abusive and intentionally damaging our business. No.

Today, in a few hours, Orange will receive a letter from a lawyer detailing why they are so wrong; what they promised to us; and demanding that they open our telephone lines while these people do a full accounting and determine where this all stands – something Orange has refused to do for the past year. Orange will release to these people – because they have to – the necessary forms in the necessary format – something they never gave us. With this information, these people can really calculate what has been done to us – something we have been unable to do and something Orange hasn’t bothered to even attempt to do.

Open the lines, the letter will demand, for two weeks while we do this accounting.

We will wait to see what Orange does but already I feel so much better, so much lighter, so much more optimistic. Orange and Partner are huge corporations who care nothing for their customers but amazingly enough, we are not alone.

Yesterday’s news was filled with another couple whose contract didn’t match the promises made to them, whose Orange representative lied to them, who was over-billed by Orange. And comment after comment on the news sites where the articles were listed, detailed the “me too” comments of others.

With each one, I feel less like a fool. With each one, I believe more and more that Orange will be stupid enough to not settle our account. If they were smart, they would offer us the out I have been demanding for months. Ah, but Orange is not smart.

They are so dumb, in fact, they are missing the single most important rule in business…if you cheat your customers, you won’t have any.

Today starts a new day on this blog, a new path in our lives – because today, the burden of trying to get Orange to listen has been passed to people who know how to fight a corrupt, lying corporation like Orange. And their weapon, the one we have given them with detailed accountings, the emails we have sent, the recordings we have made – is unbeatable.

We have given them the truth…and in time…perhaps a short period of time if Orange is smart, more likely in quite a bit of time, they will give us justice.

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I think he’s fighting with Orange

Posted by A Soldier's Mother on December 28, 2010

My young daughter just called to say goodnight. With all the time we’ve wasted trying to reach Orange, we are all seriously behind in work and I just need time to try to catch up.

So, here I am at 9:15 p.m. – and still at the office. My youngest called to say good night – house line to office line, thanks to Orange. What would have, or should have been a free call within the family network, just cost a bit of money – not a lot, just the principle of yet another promise broken.

She called and said she was very tired and really wanted a cup of tea. I told her to ask her oldest brother to help her. At 10 years old, she could make herself a cup of tea, but I’d feel better if her brother did it.

“I think he’s on the phone fighting with Orange,” she said. No, it isn’t possible at this hour that he’s on the phone. He was in the office today helping us and left early. He has a headache after days of arguing with representative after representative. On Sunday, he made a list of the ping pong game Orange put him through as he tried to speak to a manager to get our phones back on.

The list has 25 names on it – and the manager never called back as promised.

But what I find fascinating is how this battle with the Dark Force, as I have now labeled this fight, has descended into the depths of our psyche. Even my children speak of Orange as evil, as betrayers, liars and cheats.

And if you are on the phone speaking to someone for a long time – you must be fighting with Orange. This too is damage that may not have a monetary value, but speaks volumes for the agony they have put us through.

 

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Birth and Death – Just more lies

Posted by A Soldier's Mother on December 28, 2010

We were told at one point that Orange had to cancel a promised meeting (one of many they canceled) because one of the people who was supposed to attend had given birth. What can you do – this is not something that you can control. We understood, canceled the meeting, and waited even longer for the next available chance.  While trying to reset the meeting – we called the woman’s phone. It was a lie. The woman was pregnant, but had not given birth.

Our first representatives were Gal Morad and a guy named Liron. Gal told us after the contracts were signed that Liron was fired for leaving phones in the back seat of his car. Thieves broke in and stole the phones, which should have been locked up in the special safe in the trunk. Later, Gal told us that Liron was fired for lying to the customers – now THAT I would believe…though from what I can see, lying to the customer is more corporate policy than something they’d fire you over.

But here’s a twist – I guess they had told enough customers that they’d fired their representative and decided in this case, it was better to say the agent died…no, not enough sympathy – he was killed in a catastrophic accident.

Here’s the latest story: http://www.mako.co.il/news-money/consumer/Article-179c210f5ab2d21004.htm&Partner=rss – it’s also on a number of other sites, though this one is in Hebrew.

A  rough translation of the story:

Two years ago, a couple signed a service contract with Orange using the company’s employee. Once they began getting their bills, they were surprised to find that the invoices did not match what was agreed upon. The bills were much higher than they should have been. “Most of the promises were oral, but we believed him,” said Adi. The couple…like my company…trusted the Orange representative. Our bills were almost three times as high as they should have been.

This couple called Orange and were told that they could not be helped because the agent who handled them was killed in a car accident, a catastrophic one even. According to Orange, not only was Ricky, the agent, killed, but his computer was destroyed in the accident…and on his computer, said Orange, were the documents from this couple’s account.

A short investigation revealed that it was all lies – the agent was still alive – even answering the phone himself. Adi turned the focus of 144 – Israel’s information directory where they found the agent’s new number. “At first he tried to escape, but then said he no longer works for Orange and asked that we vacate the company,” said Adi.

Partner’s responsed by saying that they have opened an internal inquiry and if they find their representatives gave false information in bad faith, the matter will be dealt with to the full extent of the law.

Orange’s statement goes on to profess how important customer service is to the integrity of their…blah blah blah.

So Orange:

If you really care about integrity and punishing those who lie to your customers – why have you lied to us almost every week for the last 11 months. Why did Gal tell us that Liron was fired for two completely different reasons; why were we told that woman had given birth when she hadn’t; why are we being billed for lines we didn’t order; why did Yishai and Meir and Vicki and so many others all promise someone would call us back?

On and on, the lies bury your company in the muck. This story is just one example. The agent might be alive – Orange’s sense of customer service and integrity seems to have died long ago.

 

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“Cause if you don’t, who’ll fly with you?”

Posted by A Soldier's Mother on December 28, 2010

In life, I have always believed, you can laugh or you can cry. I prefer, as much as possible, to laugh and though I must confess that Orange has driven me to tears a number of times in the last few days, I have decided that absurdity drys tears and I can laugh again.

I feel bad for so many others who have also been cheated, but with each story I hear, I feel less like the fool. At some point, the responsibility for this disgraceful behavior belongs not with those who have been cheated, but with the company that keeps lying to its customers.

So today’s headlines must make even Orange representatives realize that soon, so soon, they will finally have to pay for the damages they cause, the lies they tell. There’s a great line in a YouTube song by Dave Carroll who tried to make United Airlines take responsibility for the guitar they broke. They refused and Dave took to YouTube – and United stock fell. One line in the third video warns United that if they don’t shape up and start holding themselves responsible for the damages “cause if you don’t, who’ll fly with you?”

More and more people in Israel must ask themselves – if Orange won’t be honest and deal in honor with its clients, who will be fooled enough to open an account and use their services.

This latest lie crosses all boundaries into the absurd.

Here’s the latest example of Orange’s lack of integrity: http://www.mako.co.il/news-money/consumer/Article-179c210f5ab2d21004.htm&Partner=rss (in Hebrew) See our next post for a summary of what this one says.

 

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Vicki Says

Posted by A Soldier's Mother on December 28, 2010

The same thing that Meir and Yisrael said last night; that Yishai said several weeks ago.

She says they will call back. Really, she says. Really.

 

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iPhone to iPod Touch

Posted by A Soldier's Mother on December 27, 2010

Several months before I got my complimentary iPhone from Gal (the one he then started charging a fortune for), my youngest son bought an iPod Touch. I was curious as to the difference between the iPod Touch and the iPhone.

When I got the iPhone – I figured it out – he had much of the same features…he just didn’t have the phone part. In fact, he was able to show me many of the secrets of how to use the phone. He made groups of similar items, helped change the settings, etc. We often share the recharger.

Leave it to Orange – they have successfully turned an iPhone into an iPod Touch. I can’t imagine a more talented (and useless) endeavor.

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Customer Relations 101

Posted by A Soldier's Mother on December 27, 2010

It seems silly to give an established company such as Orange lessons in something as basic as Custom Relations but it appears, after dealing with them for so long and in such a painful way, that this is what they need. So here are a few quick tips for Orange that I hope the company and their representatives will consider:

  • Rule 1: When dealing with a client – you have to LISTEN to what they want, what they need. To keep a customer, you have to provide service. To provide the service they need, you have to start by listening. If you won’t answer their calls, won’t meet with them when they ask, you can’t possibly listen and therefore you can’t possibly have a good relationship with them.
  • Rule 2: Don’t lie to them. Whatever you do – lying will not enhance your reputation. It might get you a contact, but it won’t keep you one. You might fool some person or company into creating a short-term agreement but that will end at the first possible opportunity and you won’t be trusted.
  • Rule 3: Don’t be vengeful. If you don’t want to deal with a customer, then don’t deal with them. But if you do, treat them right. You can’t ignore a client – they have a right to service.

I’m sure there are so many other rules that Orange is ignoring, maybe somebody wants to suggest some. For now, I’d be happy if Orange followed these…even one of them.

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