Cellular Agony

Dealing with Phone Companies

Archive for the ‘Towards Resolution’ Category

Update – July, 2013 – Salvation?

Posted by Paula on July 15, 2013

It’s been almost 18 months since I posted. During that time, for the most part, two things have been happening:

1. We’ve been happy Pelephone subscribers. Once we had a problem where we found they had over-billed us. We called them to complain thinking we’d begun the slippery slope into hell with yet another cell phone company. They were polite. They apologized. They fixed the debit the following month with a credit.

2. We’ve been receiving Orange bills on and off. For what imagined service, God alone knows. I’m not even convinced that Orange knows! The bill when we left Orange was somewhere around 40,000 NIS (that’s about $12,000). By now, it’s climbed to over 85,000 NIS (over $20,000). You have to give them credit for creativity on this one. No services, no phone calls – and yet it still manages to go up thousands of NIS per month? No clue.

So every once in a while, triggered either by a comment or story I hear, or triggered by yet another bill – I’ll go on Twitter and Facebook and complain about the rotten service we got, the ridiculous bill, etc.

During this time, Orange contacted us a few times, set meetings with their lawyers – to which we usually responded…bring it on…and then a day or so before the meeting, they called to cancel it. No progress. I was waiting for them to sue us, ready to gather up the mountains of emails, mistakes, etc. ready…but not anxious.

Two weeks ago, I had another twitter flutter and once again got the innocuous response that they’re sorry we’ve had trouble and if we send them a private note with our phone number, they’ll be happy to call. So been there, done that…so don’t want to go and do it again.

But whatever…so I wrote them and Victor called me. On the one hand, I didn’t want to go through the whole story again; on the other hand, it all poured out – along with a fair amount of anger for all the suffering we have gone through.

Victor said he’d call me back. I didn’t believe him. It wouldn’t be the first time Orange said they’d call back; it wouldn’t be the tenth. Perhaps somewhere in the 30s or 40s, who knows?

A few days later, Victor called back. I was shocked. I was amazed. And then, I was even more amazed. According to Victor, the week before, Orange closed our account and canceled the invoice. I decided to be cautiously optimistic, hopeful. I would get a letter from Orange confirming this in the next few days.

Could you send this to me now? No…

I waited a few days and a letter from Orange came…it had a coupon for 70 NIS to spend in their store. I couldn’t believe it.

I posted on Twitter – you tell me you’re canceling an 85,000 NIS bill and instead you send me a coupon for 70 NIS? Seriously????

Victor called me back. He said I misunderstood. That the billing period ends on the 13th of the month and within a week after that, I should receive a credit notification. Could this be the end? After so many years of agony – could we finally be nearing the end of this misery?

Stay tuned, I guess…


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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.

Posted in Orange Harassment, Towards Justice, Towards Justice, Towards Resolution | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

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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THREE Weeks to Open a Phone

Posted by Paula on February 9, 2011

That’s right. According to Israeli law, cellular phone companies have no right to hold your phone hostage. They must now open them for free.

So, as law-abiding citizens, we approached Orange and asked them to open our phones. After weeks of procrastinating and giving us the codes a few at a time and dragging it out, they admitted the truth – they are doing this on purpose. They refused to open my iPhone until I paid my bill.

“You are breaking the law,” I told the support person. “Honestly and truly. And we don’t even OWE Orange money.”

Days later. More calls. Almost daily, my son has been calling and spending endless amounts of time trying to get my phone opened while I walk around with an old phone. I have been carrying my iPhone around for the Contacts. Carrying the new phone to call people.

Finally today, after three full weeks, we finally got my phone opened. It is a small victory but I’ll take it as the first of many to come.

When I first started this battle. All I wanted was for Orange to fix the billing and Gal’s lies. After a while and more damage, I just wanted out.

Tell them to take their stinking phones and their stinking service, I told our wonder workers. I don’t owe them; they don’t have to pay me – just end this agony.

As the manager on the phone nastily told my son the other day in yet another lie (he claimed they had offered to cancel the dozens of lines they incorrectly were charging us for) – that offer is off the table.

I have never, in 50 years of living, been so determined. What Orange has done to us is illegal. But more, it is obscene. It is an abomination, a betrayal of our trust.

It is theft of time, of money. And for once, for once, we will sue them, we will beg the courts to understand the damages they have caused to our lives, to our family, to our business.

Just today, my daughter’s teacher said – I was trying to reach you for a few weeks and couldn’t get through. Orange, I explained – but now things are fine. We are will Pelephone.

“WHAT is with your phone?” a colleague asked me. I am in the midst of planning a national conference. “How can you close your phone?” she asked.

I didn’t close it, I explained – Orange did. I told her about the blog; I told her what Orange had done. Two simple words were her response, “Sue them.”

From here to the next world and back again, I responded.

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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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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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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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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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