Cellular Agony

Dealing with Phone Companies

The Day This Goes to Court

Posted by Paula on February 10, 2011

I keep imagining having to explain this whole situation with Orange in court.

“So what happened?” the judge asks.

“Well, we decided to move to Orange. We had 16 Cellcom lines and when the smoke had cleared, we had 74.”

“I’m sorry,” the judge says, “I didn’t hear you. Could you repeat that?”

And so I explain again, that which we cannot understand ourselves. The judge sits there for a moment staring at us. He turns to the lawyers for Orange, sitting there looking so serious with their stacks of paper and their black suits.

“Do you have something to say to this?” the judge asks.

“Your Honor,” says the Orange lawyer, “they signed the contract. Surely they must know what they signed.”

The judge looks at the Orange lawyer. Having signed his own share of these ridiculous contracts, he says, “have you ever read one of these contracts? No one can read them. Did your client take an order for 16 lines and turn them into 74?”

“Well, your honor, there does seem to be 74 lines on the bill and it could be…”

But the judge cuts him off and turns back to us. “How many lines do you have?”

“Well, we have 8 lines and my parents have two lines and a former employee of ours has 5 lines and we have one spare. So 16 lines. And we got phones for all of them – but they are charging us for 49 pieces of equipment.”

“FORTY-NINE?” the judge shouts. Already he turns to the Orange lawyers. “FORTY-NINE? For 16 lines?”

“Your honor,” the Orange lawyer starts again but the judge has already turned to us and instructed us to continue.

“Then there’s the line that was billed thousands of shekels but we never even got it. We don’t have that number. And we agreed to 27 agurot per minute and they charged us 70 agurot.”

The judge looks to the lawyer but before they can say anything, the judge holds up his hand and turns back to us. “go on.”

“And we signed up for a virtual network so there would be limited free calls for everyone within our group, but they never gave us credit for that.

“And they told us we could have 10 free numbers – that would be included in the virtual network and we gave them the numbers, but they never credited us for those calls.

“And they billed us for machines we never got – the proof is that in 16 months, we never used them.

“Oh, and they took my husband’s signature, the electronic one, and they cut and pasted it onto more than 40 pages of a contract without telling us.”

The judge looks at the lawyers as he speaks to me, “they did?”

“Yes, your honor,” I respond. “And they signed my name for me.”

“Really?” says the judge.

“Oh yes, just look at the papers, it’s so obvious even a child can see the obvious fraud,” I continue. “And when we tried to settle it, they shut our phones without any warning.”

By now, the entire courtroom is staring at the Orange lawyers. “No warning?” the judge echoes.

“None – not to our son who is a soldier!” I hear a collective gasp from the people in the room; even the judge looks angry.

“And my elderly parents were cut off and my youngest daughter.

“And my older son is an ambulance volunteer and they need to call him if there is an emergency.

“And my youngest son learns away from home and I couldn’t call him.”

“What did you do?” the judge asked.

“What could I do? I asked Orange to at least open the phones for incoming calls so that we could call the person from another line. Or if my father got separated from my mother, we could call him. But they refused. So we went out and bought new phones for the most critical lines. Then we found these amazing guys who convinced Orange to open a few lines for two weeks while they figured out the accounting and we sent them a letter from a lawyer telling them exactly how much damage they were causing our business and our family – but Orange never even bothered to answer that letter. Finally, we got someone on the line and they agreed they’d open those few lines in 30 minutes. Of course, they messed that up too.”

“Of course they did,” agrees the judge. “What did they do?”

“Well,” I say with my first smile of the day, “they opened one line completely by mistake – in and out calls; and the other lines it took them 3 hours to open for incoming only. But they shut them again after two weeks even to that.

“Oh, and when they didn’t even answer our letter, we did what we said we would – we moved the critical lines to Pelephone and demanded Orange open our phones to other SIM cards. That IS the law,” I told the judge.

“Yes, it is. Can I assume they did not do that?” the judge will ask me.

“Well, it took them days. First they said “maybe tomorrow or Sunday. Then on Sunday they said they meant the NEXT Sunday. Then they opened most of the phones, but not mine.

“So my son had to call them almost every day. They said they wouldn’t open my phone unless I paid what we owe them. I tried to explain that we don’t even OWE them money and about those 74 lines but they didn’t care. So my son really yelled and finally, after three weeks, my phone was unlocked.”

“So,” says the judge as he turns to the Orange lawyers, “we’ve got fraud, forgery, over-billing, lying. Failing to follow Ministry of Communications laws regarding unlocking phones and apparently a representative who doesn’t know how to count,” he says as he turns to Gal, sitting there next to the lawyers. Gal’s face is all red and for once, he isn’t charming and smiling at all.

I could continue this fantasy, but there’s no reason. Soon enough, Orange will hear all of this and more and though I don’t expect any judge in Israel to act as this one does in my story; I have no doubt that the judge will be as disgusted as so many others have been.

The law in Israel requires everyone to do their best to minimize damages – Orange did everything that they could, in spite and malice, to increase the damages. This is true in how they cut our phones; this is true in how they took three weeks to unlock my iPhone.

“Did your client take an order for 16 lines and turn them into 74?” – oh yes, they did. That…and so much more.

I am confident that when this comes to court, a competent judge will see the fraud, the forgery, the lies.

And I am confident that Orange will be stupid enough to let this go to court without offering us a reasonable settlement.

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