Cellular Agony

Dealing with Phone Companies

Archive for January, 2011

Bezek and Customer Service

Posted by Paula on January 31, 2011

About a month ago, Cellcom’s infrastructure almost collapsed. Tens of thousands of customers were left without phone service for several hours. A short time after it was restored, Cellcom announced that it would credit each subscriber the previous week’s calls for free. It doesn’t wipe out the frustration (and believe me, after almost a month without our phones because of Orange’s incompetence and corruption, I know what that feels like), but it goes a long way in helping mend the feeling that no one cares.

Last week, Bezek’s infrastructure also collapsed and took many hours to be repaired. Their compensation – one full week in which every Bezek line can call any cellular network line for free for up to 1,000 minutes.

For the last 11 months, Orange has been abusing us, overbilling us, harassing us, threatening us. For all this time, they have refused to answer the simplest of questions – HOW MUCH DO WE OWE YOU? They have billed us ridiculous numbers – over 37,000 shekels on lines we never had. And the answer to how much we owe them has finally come clear – we don’t owe them…they owe us.

Perhaps they knew this all along and thus were delaying? Who knows? But I’ll let you in on two other secrets that you’ll be hearing about in the next few weeks. The first is that we have taken a lawyer who will help us see justice done and bring about the compensation that Orange was too stupid to offer on its own. The second is that we have identified other Orange sufferers and amazingly enough – they have the same story to tell, of inflated SIM card use, inflated bills.

I’m not surprised that Orange is not rushing to compensate us…it would be a truly unique experience were they to actually care about their customers.

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A Prank Worthy of Orange

Posted by Paula on January 30, 2011

Someone who knows of our cellular agony posted this video to their Facebook page and recommended I watch it. It is brilliant. It is funny. I so would love to do the same here in Israel. Of course, it would likely cause a major security problem as police would break in to confirm it was not a terrorist attack but you can’t help but smile when you watch this.

If you ever dreamed of frustrating a company as they have frustrated you, here’s a point for the little guys!
 

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Malice or Incompetence?

Posted by Paula on January 24, 2011

Orange is still not giving us the codes we need to unlock the phones. Latest is that they are now telling us it will take yet another week.

We asked them on Thursday – they told us they would give us the codes on Sunday. Nothing – no calls, no SMS – typical Orange.

My son called until he had a headache and couldn’t deal with it any more. This too is damage and harm they cause. We are all physically worn out by having to deal with their incompetence and lies.

Today, Orange called –  a day late. Good news, says the woman. I have the code to unlock your phone.

“My phone?” my son asked.

“Yes, your phone.”

“My PHONES,” my son said, “I have many phones that need to be unlocked, not just one!”

“Oh,” was the intelligent response of the woman who had taken almost 5 days to accomplish what Cellcom had done in one hour. “Oh.”

“That could take up to five days,” she responded.

“Five days from WHEN?” asked my son.

“From today,” she answered.

And so, we are, as usual, waiting for Orange. Their incompetence simply astounds me. Maybe, I’m thinking, maybe it isn’t pure malice that has caused this situation. Maybe, must maybe it is astounding, unparalleled, incomprehensible stupidity and incompetence.

Now there’s a thought.

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Mother Russia

Posted by Paula on January 23, 2011

A song has been going through my head for the last few days. It is a song I remember from long ago, when I was involved in protests against the injustice of the Soviet Union. I joined thousands demanding that they let the Jews emigrate.

As Anatoly Sharansky was finally freed to come home to Israel and become the Natan Sharansky we all respect, the song, “We are leaving, Mother Russia” was released. It is so silly that such an important subject and song should be the tune that goes through my head as I think of Orange and our cellular agony, but there it is.

We are leaving Mother Russia,
We have waited far too long.
We are leaving Mother Russia,
When they come for us we’ll be gone.

After 11 months of cellular agony and more lies that we can count, today we successfully pulled part of our lines out of Orange.

We didn’t pull out all the lines and we still have a long fight ahead of us, but no one can say we didn’t try to resolve this; no one can say we lied, forged, cheated.

The numbers are coming in of how badly Orange tried to cheat us. They promised to reimburse us for the exit fees from Cellcom. These amounted to about 33,000 NIS. Of this amount, Orange has paid us only a bit over 1,500 NIS.

They promised us a rate of 27 agurot per minute (we have just signed a deal for 25 agurot per minute with another company), but even the 27 agurot was a decent rate. Only, Orange didn’t honor that fee from the  start. No, they charged us over 70 agurot per minute – an absurdly high rate for anyone, let alone someone who supposedly had 66 lines.

All this is to be sorted out in the future and likely in court. For now, I have been liberated. I am free. I can call anyone; anyone can call me. It is my company that has succeeded after weeks of damage to liberate ourselves. The damage continues on some of the lines, but at least mine is free; my parents’ numbers are out.

My mother and father will no longer be alone and unable to call someone when they leave their home. We are awaiting confirmation whether we succeeded in pulling out younger daughter’s phone out. One son is clear – we don’t know about the other lines.

And one last frustration – our Orange phones are still useless to us. In violation of the law, Orange is still refusing the codes to unlock them. On Thursday, we were told we would be called on Sunday. That they did not have the codes and had to get them from the manufacturers.

On Friday, we took 15 phones to Cellcom and got them unlocked within an hour.

Today is Sunday, and as expected, Orange did not call us with the codes. When we called them; they argued and transferred us from department to department.

Agony and lies to the end.

And the tune goes through my head – I am leaving, Orange. I have waited far too long. I am leaving. When you come for me, when you realize what damage you have caused, I’ll be gone!

 

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The Tide Turns

Posted by Paula on January 21, 2011

The tide has turned on our fight with Orange. Until now, we have been alone. Suffering the agony of dealing with a company that lacks ethics, hires people who are encouraged to lie, rewarded by how many SIM cards they sell or swindle the person into taking.

The tide has turned.

We have gotten enough reports from Orange (not necessarily with their cooperation) to have determined that at the current moment, even using their mistaken and inflated figures and charges, even ignoring the promises they didn’t keep, after all this time, they actually owe us money. And we are talking about thousands of shekels, not a few pennies here or there.

We had a great meeting today with a representative of another company. The timing could not have been better. In the middle of the meeting, we got an SMS from Orange. They are cutting off the 7 lines they opened for us two weeks ago. They only opened them for incoming calls. The idea was to give us two weeks to resolve this issue. Of course, it was assumed they wanted to resolve it too – but to date, they have not given us the reports that we requested – in writing and by telephone.

They have not set up a meeting date, nor have they answered any of our emails or letters. We told them they had 24 hours to turn our lines back on. We go an automatic response saying they would answer within 48 hours.

Our lawyer recommended we wait the full 48 hours so that they would have no excuses. It has been more than 96 hours – days of more suffering.

In the middle of today’s meeting, the SMS came in. I got up from the meeting and rushed to the telephone to call my parents, to warn them that once again, they might be cut off without warning.

I pray this is the last time Orange has such power to send me into a panic; that soon we will never have to deal with this company…except across a court hearing where we will explain to the judge that the power this company has to destroy businesses and endanger lives is unacceptable given how they wield this power so cruelly.

The tide has turned and amazingly enough, for once I am happy to see that Orange is too stupid to listen. I long for the day when this will come before the judge and I can describe the damage they have caused, the harm, the agony.

And amazingly enough – it has all been for nothing. We don’t even owe them any money. They owe US. We paid enough to offset our actual charges. The rest is their own inflated incompetence. If you charge someone for 50 extra lines, you probably shouldn’t be surprised that it will come back to haunt you.

The tide has turned.

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The Black, The White and the Gray

Posted by Paula on January 20, 2011

You’d think, by now, that there isn’t much more Orange could do to surprise us and yet, you’d be, amazingly enough, wrong.

We have been trying to resolve this situation for months. We have all but begged Orange to meet with us. We wrote and called and explained that without an understanding of how, how in God’s name Orange got us to 66 lines and how they managed to charge us 4 times what we were paying…we could not see how we were being asked to pay to much.

Our last bill, before they shut our lines, had reached to a bit over 32,000 NIS. That’s about over $7,000 for those of you working in dollars. So they closed the lines and we hit the jackpot. We met a team of amazing people who understood that what Orange was doing was wrong. More, they understand how cellular companies work.

So they began to help us. We hired them to figure out the accounting. How much we owed Orange…or, amazingly enough, how much Orange owes us.

If you ask Orange, we owe them 32,000 NIS+. But why would we ask Orange anything? When have they ever been honest with us?

So our wonder workers asked Orange to give us some time to figure it out and asked for a series of reports that they know the phone company keeps. It’s easier to manipulate the numbers and output all that we have been asking for many months. What we thought was so complicated, is actually quite simple. It was just that Orange didn’t want to bother.

It’s a matter of calculating the black, the white and the gray. The black and the white are the numbers that are easy to calculate. How much we owe Orange for phone calls (less the virtual private network credit they promised us but never activated and less the strange SIM charges on the line we never received).

The black and white includes, according to our wonder workers, what any normal, logical mind would conclude. If you haven’t used a phone line in 14 months, chances are something is wrong and likely, when the person to whom you gave the phone line says they never got it…they are likely telling the truth. So, for now, our wonder workers want to calculate the black and the white. The gray is all that Orange lied about – or promised us verbally. To our credit, they have changed the billing in our favor in a number of points so they cannot retroactively claim something else. The gray is the virtual network, the iPhones, and other gifts Gal gave us. And yet, Orange will have to go to court with something that beats our Cellcom bill, or explain why any normal person would move from one company to another after 14 years…only to have their bill multiplied by 4.

So, our wonder workers asked for reports to get this information, to do what Orange has refused to do – to determine what is black, what is white, what is gray. But Orange strikes again…

Orange is not giving us the reports we need to solve this problem. Orange has ignored repeated letters demanding they open our lines, demanding they minimize the tremendous damage they are causing our business. Orange even refuses to give us the reports we need to prove our claims.

In the meantime, we are cautiously meeting with the other cell phone companies. We no longer trust salespeople. We will explain everything, they say. We don’t believe them.

We have a great deal…yes, Gal said that too. You’ll have a personal contact at the company that you can deal with. Oh, Gal promised that to us too. So many lies. It is so hard to trust.

They are amazed by what Orange has done to us. Amazed by the lies, the corruption, the fraud.

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Still Nothing from Orange

Posted by Paula on January 20, 2011

It’s been weeks since Orange shut our phones without any notification. It’s been weeks in which we have had to dance around trying to communicate with our friends, family and most important as a business, with our clients.

I carry two phones with me – my useless iPhone from Orange; an old, unknown phone with little functionality but a SIM card from Cellcom that works. If I miss a call, I will see it on my iPhone, then call the number on the older phone.

My car has an Orange phone installed with my useless SIM card. I can receive calls, but cannot make them. If someone returns my call on the number they see (the Cellcom), I have to stop on the side of the road and call them because the Cellcom SIM won’t go into the Orange car phone.

I have, for  years now, faced a weekly commute to a client in Netanya. It’s almost a 2 hour drive in both directions, but I happen to really like the client, their employees, the work and so for more than a decade, I have made this trip.

It never bothered me before – I used the time to make all my business calls – four hours of productive conversations (and yes, catch up with my family as well). Now, I drive in silence, unless, with great embarrassment, I call someone on the Cellcom line and ask them to call me back.

Two weeks and more since Orange cut the lines – and still, they have not answered our letter, they have not given us the reports we have demanded. And still, Orange proves that Customer Service means nothing; the damage they cause is irrelevant.

Something to consider when next you shop for a phone company.

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Happy Birthday, Cellular Agony

Posted by Paula on January 17, 2011

You are a year old today – a year of suffering because of Orange’s ongoing and seemingly everlasting dedication to fail its customers.

Hard to believe it is a year…a whole year…of emails, ignored phone calls, requested meetings.

A year…who would have thought any company could still be in business after treating their customers this way.

Happy birthday, Cellular Agony – may our fight be over soon and may Orange learn that what they over-bill their customers through errors and lies and worse…will not benefit them for long.

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Reputation Management

Posted by Paula on January 12, 2011

I attended the SphinnCon conference this week in Jerusalem at the beautiful Inbal Hotel. The location was ideal, parking was quickly found nearby, the food was great. There was only one problem. The Internet connection arranged with the services of Bezek, the local carrier, kept falling.

The hotel staff worked tirelessly and by lunch, we were online and enjoying the benefit of being connected to the world while listening to some great presentations. One presentation was very appropriate for this blog.

It was a panel discussion on Reputation Management from various perspectives. One presenter, Shira Abel, spoke of how her company stays on top of its reputation and thus responds quickly, politely, and accurately to criticism…especially ones that are unfounded and based on misunderstandings.

Another excellent panelist was Sam Michaelson of Five Blocks spoke of how his company works hard to make sure that their clients’ reputation is positive on the web and how they track down unfavorable content and work to lessen its impact. The concept intrigued me, especially given my current cellular agonies with Orange. After the session ended, I made my way over to Sam (am I allowed to use first names with a person I met for all of 5 minutes?) and quickly explained about my blog, Cellular Agony, and my struggle with Orange.

What was interesting was that most of Five Blocks customers don’t seem to fall into the category in which someone is intentionally trying to damage their reputation. Of course, I can’t really say that I am trying to damage Orange. Personally, I think they are doing that themselves by the way they react…I mean DO NOT react  to their customer’s needs.

Reputation Management – what a concept. It seems that the best way to manage your reputation, not that I am trying to put Five Blocks out of business, is to simply practice logical and good business ethics.

No company is perfect. But the fact that Gal Morad continues to work at Orange long after even people at Orange admit he cheated us (off-the-record of course…well, other than the taped conversation we have of Eliron saying he would have had Gal fired), shows that Orange doesn’t care.

This blog is growing and getting more hits – I wonder if some day Orange will be smart enough to go to a company like Five Blocks and ask for their help. Then again, probably not.

In the meantime, some statistics for Orange.

When you google:

  • “Orange complaints,” you get over 4 million hits.
  • “Orange bad customer service,” you get over 3.5 million hits.
  • “Partner overbilling,” gets you almost 27 million hits.
  • And…”cellular agony” gets you 239,000 and most of the first page comes to this blog.

That’s some tremendous amount of reputation management Orange is going to have to deal with and if they don’t start soon, it seems like the trend will continue.

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The Legal Battle Begins

Posted by Paula on January 11, 2011

Not only did Orange ignore virtually all of our emails requesting meetings and resolution…

Not only did Orange ignore all of our questions and complaints about Gal and the original representatives and their lies…

Not only did Orange lie repeatedly in their endless promises to call us back…

Not only did they shut our phones without warning…

Not only did they attempt to blackmail us by demanding we pay them 10,000 NIS before they would even agree to turn a single phone back on for incoming call…

Not only do they ignore the needs of my elderly parents, my children, my workers, my business…

Not only have the continually ignored not just our demands for explanations, but our more recent requests for missing records…

They are even dumb enough to ignore letters from our lawyers.

More than 10 days since we sent our letters to Orange.

More than 7 days since they received our letters.

More than a year of cellular agony.

But now, finally, I know we are on the right path. Soon, very soon, Orange will be held accountable for:

  • The lies
  • The forgeries
  • The fraud
  • The overbilling
  • The refusal to answer our requests for meetings, phone responses, information, explanation

Soon…the legal battle begins.

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