Cellular Agony

Dealing with Phone Companies

New Laws the Prevent Cellular Agony

Posted by Paula on December 14, 2010

There are, finally, new laws in Israel that will prevent the cellular agony that we have suffered and continue to suffer. Last week, without warning, Orange shut our phones for non-payment. It’s true – we haven’t paid our bill in a good six months. Each month, we get yet another bill demanding we pay tens of thousands of shekels and each month, we politely request a simple explanation of how, in God’s name, this company reached these numbers.

At Cellcom, we had 16 phone lines in our company and an average bill of 2,500 or perhaps 3,000 NIS per month. We moved to Orange after 14 years at Cellcom over some things that now seem so minor. We were tired of bad service (little did we know); we were tired of Cellcom customer service promising things and not delivering (well, that seems like a joke now); and we were tired of not understanding bills until we were overcharged and had to fight to get the money back (and surely, the joke is on us with this one).

We met Gal of Orange, who came with Liron at first – until Liron was fired for…well, all sorts of reasons that Gal told us. The first was because he’d left valuable equipment in the back seat of his Orange car and not locked it into the safe in the trunk and it was stolen. That was the first lie…well, at least one. Then Gal told us that Liron was fired for lying to customers – now that one I might believe if I didn’t now think that lying to a customer is standard protocol at Orange and more likely to get you a raise!

One of the things we insisted on with Gal was that someone come and explain the bills if we requested it. This was very important after our experiences at Cellcom. Gal said, “of course, I want to meet with you at least every three months and more if you need it.” It sounded like heaven; we’ve been living in hell ever since.

Anyway, after months of Orange taking close to 8,000 NIS per month (three to four times what Cellcom took) we wrote emails and explained that unless they could explain why they were taking so much money, we would have no choice but to stop the automatic deductions from our bank. No answer.

We wrote again and again. Please tell us WHY you are charging this amount. WHY? No response. If you won’t explain why our bills suddenly tripled for the same service we got from Cellcom…you are leaving us no choice…no answer; nothing. No Gal. No explanations. A few minor corrections. Were we charging you for 66 lines instead of 16? Hmmm….yes, maybe that was a mistake. Okay, we’ll cancel 17 lines. But…but…nothing.

So we finally said to Orange – tell us what we owe you and we’ll pay. Explain it and we’ll pay. Till then. We are stopping the auto-withdrawal. That was some six months ago and still we have yet to meet with someone from Orange who can explain how the lies translate into truth; how the lines we ordered have tripled our cost when it was supposed to cost us less.

According to the new law, as reported by The Jerusalem Post, “If a customer complains about charges for services he did not order, the company must respond within 21 days. Such payments must be returned with linkage and interest, and reimbursements over NIS 100 must be transferred immediately, in a single payment, to his bank account within three working days.”

So much of these laws would have protected us, had they been in existence. We specifically requested that Orange tell us if our Internet usage go above the allocated amount. They didn’t do as they said and the result was hundreds of shekels in costs. This will change according to the new laws.

But perhaps the best part of the law, the part that surely would have saved us so much cellular agony, was this one: “Current cellphone contracts are as long and complicated as mortgage contracts, and only a rare customer reads them before signing. From now on, cellular customers will receive a single page stating what their contracts contain, without “small print.” No addition or change may be made by hand.”

The full article can be read here: http://www.jpost.com/NationalNews/Article.aspx?ID=199152&R=R1

Sadly, this is too late for us. We continue to suffer while Orange continues its agonizing treatment and lack of customer service. It is now Tuesday – 10 days after they cut our lines suddenly and restored them again within 5 minutes when we threatened to go to the police. Yishai said someone would call us within 4-5 business days – that period ended on Sunday, a business day here in Israel.

As we expected, no one from Orange called. No one sent us a message. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing.

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