Cellular Agony

Dealing with Phone Companies

Archive for the ‘Orange Harassment’ Category

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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How Long Does it Take?

Posted by Paula on February 8, 2011

How long does it take someone to unlock a phone?


Black market: 15 minutes

Cellcom: 1 hour

Orange: 2.5 weeks and counting

Of course, we have the Complaint number for the phone call in which they said they would not unlock the phone until we had paid our bill.

Of course, they would not listen when we explained, AGAIN, that we did not owe them any money.

Of course, they messed up enough to unlock ONE of the iPhones, but not the other.

Of course, of course…they are violating Israeli law by refusing to unlock the phones.

We called on a Thursday, two and a half weeks ago. They said tomorrow, or Sunday at the latest.

That Sunday, they said…no, we meant NEXT Sunday.

On Sunday, they refused unless we paid our bill. Then they reversed themselves and said they would open it…tomorrow.

Today, they said…tomorrow.

So, how long does it take to unlock a phone – at least as long as it takes to get an Orange manager to actually call you back after Orange promises they will…and we have the names of 25 or so people who have promised this and never delivered.

So, tomorrow my phone will be unlocked…or maybe not.

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One Light in a Dark Orange World

Posted by Paula on February 7, 2011

My son called Orange to report yet another problem. Once again, they transferred him around; once again he was promised they would call back. This time, by yesterday.

Today, he called again – usually it takes him about an hour to get to a manager, who then promised they will call back tomorrow. They never do.

He is currently waiting for three managers to call him back, who promised they would call him back “tomorrow”…and my son is still waiting. I think maybe the problem is that tomorrow is always a day away.

My son has a lot more energy for this than I have. I can’t stand talking to them anymore; I can’t stand the aggravation. My husband’s blood pressure is up; I’m exhausted from fighting the windmill known as Orange Customer Service (and isn’t that an absurd contradiction of terms because from what we have experienced, there is nothing at all that connects the words “Orange” and “Customer Service”), but leave it to my son. He was in the army for three years; a commander in the artillery. He learned perseverance, and so he called Orange again today.

We are still trying to get Orange to unlock my iPhone. They are still violating the law by refusing to give us the code we need. Some day, I hope, there will be justice for this too.

This time, the woman, from technical support, answered my son’s call and looked up our account. She was astounded. she was shocked. And then, she refused to transfer him to another department. She could not believe at how many “open” complaints we have. Open complaints are phone calls never returned – tell us about it! She said she used to work in the field and this was unacceptable. What can we do but agree?

She said she was going to investigate and call my son back. He said he didn’t believe she would…but amazingly enough, she did.

She called back to say she was still checking into it, but at least, miracle of miracles, she called back. My son says he understands why she is in tech support and not in sales. She’s clearly too honest and doesn’t know how to lie nearly well enough to work in Orange sales.

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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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The Sins I Won’t Forget

Posted by Paula on January 11, 2011

My father has been forgetting things lately and sometimes gets confused where he is and where he is supposed to be. This morning, he drove my mother to one location and they agreed he would pick her up a few hours later.

Around 1:00 p.m., I got a call from a woman at the place where my mother was teaching, “Can you call your mother right now? She needs to talk to you.”

Now a normal person would wonder why my mother didn’t just simply call me, rather than ask someone to have me call her. Of course, a normal person wouldn’t expect the kind of horrible treatment and customer service we have received from Orange. No, my mother can’t call me because Orange cut our ability to make outgoing calls. And even though they still – more than a week later, haven’t bothered to provide us with all the accounting reports we need and didn’t bother to answer my letter or the letter from my lawyer, still, no service.

So I called my mother – more concerned with her than with wondering, why again, a corporation would invite such bad publicity. “I don’t know where Daddy is!” My mother began.

Trying to calm her on one line, I quickly went into my contacts, found the number on my all-but-useless Orange iPhone and dialed it on my second line (thanks for nothing, Orange; thanks, Cellcom and I am SO sorry we ever moved to Orange!).

My father answered right away. That was the lucky break. He had gotten confused and was waiting in a parking lot 30 minutes away – another place where they often meet, rather than where they had agreed in the morning.

How humiliating for my mother to have to ask someone to call me to ask me to call her.

How incredibly dangerous it is that my father was unable to call out and so was left to stand there wondering where my mother was.

How upsetting to my mother that she had to wonder where my father was.

How incredibly like Orange to not care about the damage they are causing so many people.

Who in God’s name would ever choose to deal with a company as insensitive as this one is beyond my imagination. I long for the day I am so done with this atrocious company and their utterly horrendous customer service.


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I think he’s fighting with Orange

Posted by Paula 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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Customer Relations 101

Posted by Paula 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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This Thing With Orange

Posted by Paula on December 27, 2010

“This thing with Orange is killing me.” These are the words spoken by a husband in the early morning hours to his wife as they lay in bed sleepless and upset.

“How can I call you?” These are the words spoken by a young child to her mother in the first moments after she awakens. She calls me every day when she comes home from school. It is the price we pay for my being a working mother – those first minutes when a child runs in the house and tells her mother about her day usually take place in a telephone call.

“This is impossible,” says Shmulik. “I have to have a phone to call S. and other officers and commanders.” He was stranded today without notice when Orange suddenly closed our phone lines after months of ignoring our requests by email and phone for a meeting to explain how, how in God’s name they were sending us monthly bills almost three times what it should be.

Nowadays, soldiers need their phones as a necessary part of their service. It is expected, if not required. When a soldier goes home from basic training, he needs to call his commanding officer or send him an SMS to confirm he arrived safely. If he is going to be late or has any problem – he has to call his commanding officer. Even during the Gaza War, communication that wasn’t on encrypted phones was shortened enough to confuse but get the message across.

“I need you here,” Elie once told his commanding officer. It was enough. It looked like something was happening on the Lebanese side of the border but Elie didn’t have an encrypted phone to explain that he could see enemy forces moving nearby. It was enough – done on an unencrypted phone – our phone (no, not Orange, but Cellcom before we had the great misfortune to believe Orange could offer better service).

And when not in war, the army runs excercises – imagine, at this moment, you have just been called to war, that your unit has been mobilized. How fast can you reach your men? How fast can they be notified and ready to move? The army needs to know. And so more than once, Elie “mobilized.” In the distant past before cellphones – the operatrion was not completed until the soldiers reached the base. Now, with cellphones, it is easier – pretend you’ve been mobilized. Call me back “as if” you’d gotten that call.

Every morning, I am the family alarm clocik. For some reason that is beyond my understanding, most of our family cannot wake up without my calling them. They go back to sleep – it can’t be serious if Ima didn’t call. With a family plan (at least we had one with Cellcom and arranged one even if Orange wasn’t honoring it in the actual numbers and bills), it means I can gather clothes and begin dressing even as I call and wake them.

The only exception to this “Ima wakes us” rule is the soldier who must leave hours before. He will rise and leave on his own – but the rest wait for their mother. I could force the issue, but I don’t. In the length of a life lived, what harm is there in these few years where I speak the first words to them each morning? “Good morning, my lovie,” I say to my daughter. Why shouldn’t she awaken to those words?

This morning, after Orange shut our phones without warning, I got out of bed and did it the old fashioned way. My feet are cold, for not having put on slippers and I want so much to crawl back into bed and desperately try for those last few minutes of sleep before my day begins and yet I come here to my computer.

I am angry at an insensitive phone company that forces my family, workers and friends, to face this day without the convenience of a phone. Writers are heading out to meetings – without phones. Mothers will not be able to reach their children. The alarm company cannot reach me to confirm that all is fine when the earliest to arrive in the office disarms the alarm. They may well send someone down to check the place.

An elderly couple will head up to Haifa in two hours – without phones. My mother teaches at the university there; my father enjoys the campus and wanders around until my mother calls him and tells him she is finished. Except today, she can’t call him. He sometimes gets distracted with the views, or sits and ignores the time as he drinks coffee and reads a newspaper. My mother broke her hip many years ago and her leg a few years ago. She has weak bones – and today, she won’t have a phone with her. |I am angry – and rightly so – you don’t cut off the phone of two elderly people who don’t speak Hebrew nearly well enough.

My son heads back to the army. He wants to call Pelephone today and take that deal they offered him. It is a special discount for soldiers – it includes hundreds of minutes of free time between army numbers. He is fed up and angry – and rightly so. You don’t cut off a soldier’s phone without warning.

My daughter will come home today – a young girl wanting to call her mother. That at least, I can solve. She was afraid yesterday when it was getting dark and she didn’t have my office phone number – why should she when she has her own phone and she knows my number. But it didn’t work yesterday – suddenly, without warning and so she was smart. She went to the neighbors and the neighbor sent me a note on Facebook. Today, at least, I have taken care of her. She has my office number – thanks to landlines and Bezek. She, at least, I can help.

And then there are those words my husband spoke to me a few hours ago; a whisper of a man who is sick and tired of trying to get a massive, insensitive, greedy corporation to listen. “This thing with Orange is killing me.” Never more than now have I regretted signing the contract with Orange a year ago.

I opened a special blog to keep this issue away from this one. But who wants to read about how yet another large corporation is cheating yet another person? A Soldier’s Mother has been going now for more than 3 years and I wanted to keep this blog about that and not about this…until yesterday when that and this collided.

We have been suffering with Orange for more than a year since we signed that contract and have been fighting ever since. The issues are complex – broken promises, over-billing, equipment not received, lines not opened. The simplest solution would have been a meeting with Orange to explain the bills. We tried that once with the head of the Jerusalem Business office – he came for a few hours – sat talking to his office on the phone making adjustments to the bill and decided, on his own, without explanations, what we were entitled to.

He canceled 17 lines and offered a compromise amount of 10,000 NIS credit if we’d forget the whole mess and just move on. Move on to what? How did you get to 10,000 NIS? Why can’t you go phone by phone and discuss it? We asked him. He was in a rush to leave to his next appointment.

“After you pay,” he said.

“Pay what?” we asked him.

He could not or would not answer. How do you pay a bill when you don’t know what you are paying for? When even the company can’t unravel the lies. The most honest truth was the one that one Orange representative gave us, “If we gave you what Gal promised, the company would lose money.” But Gal was their representative, set on making the deal, giving us the SIM cards and getting his commission. Gal has long since been removed from the picture – if only we were so lucky.

This thing with Orange is killing my husband, leaves my daughter without a convenient way to contact her mother, leaves a soldier without a phone and a way to contact his family, his fiancée, his commanding officer. This thing with Orange leave two elderly people without communication for the next few hours. This thing with Orange is an outrage.


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Posted by Paula on December 26, 2010

Elie is on the phone with Orange. They are now offering to open ONE line so that they can talk to us. They will not open my son’s line (Orange closes a soldier’s phone). They will not open Elie’s phone (he’s a volunteer for the ambulance squad).

My son’s fiancée is calling because she can’t reach Shmulik and is worried. She’s been trying for hours to reach him. After more than three hours on the phone, Orange has offered us a compromise: pay 10,000 NIS in up to 18 payments, and we will open the lines.

That is blackmail, Elie says. Simply blackmail. We have been asking for months for a representative to come and explain the bills. We do not know who owes what. Perhaps when you factor in the huge amount they took from us in the early months, against the monies they promised from the beginning, perhaps they owe us money.

Certainly, they have no idea – and there is no reason, until we meet, that we should have to pay this – other than blackmail – and that is what this is.

They told us if we pay them their blood money, they will open the lines until mid-January and within that time, they will meet us. Of course, they have been telling us that there will be a meeting for months.

Tomorrow, our fight begins. Orange has no idea of the wrath of a soldier’s mother. You do not cut off a soldier’s line without cause – and this was without cause.

Four hours on the phone, more time wasted. This is it.

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