Cellular Agony

Dealing with Phone Companies

Comparing Cellular Services

Posted by Paula on February 22, 2011

They say you should never compare your children. Luckily, the same is not true of your cellular phone companies and the services they offer. Case and point: reception.

Where we live, by far, Orange reception was the worst; Cellcom was better. Pelephone reception was unknown to us when we closed the deal to move eight lines away from Orange – it was enough to just escape the agony of having to deal with Orange. Almost immediately after opening the service with Orange in January of 2010 (despite their beginning to charge us in September, 2010 for phones that were not activated), we realized that my husband was virtually unreachable in the apartment downstairs at ground level. Reception was non-existent. We asked Orange to do something and right away, they told us there was an easy fix – that was yet another of Gal’s pathetic lies.

We have emails promising to bring in a repeater; we have a recording of Eliron promising to fix the problem quickly. Well, as you probably know by now, Orange’s idea of quick service is about equal to the amount of time it would take a dead turtle to crawl a mile…as in – it isn’t going to happen.

We waited almost a full year, repeatedly asking for the repeater – and nothing. All they could offer was to redirect the phone calls from my husband’s phone to the house line when he was in the office – gee, that’s great service. Why bother having a mobile phone if all you do is redirect to the land line?

So, with a bit of concern, we mentioned this bad reception to Pelephone. They promised a repeater and my husband and I looked on skeptically. We wondered how we would get thTwo weeks later, they came today to install a repeater that has less radiation than a standard phone, and increases the reception dramatically. Not only did they install it; not only did they make sure it looked esthetically pleasing, they even stuck around to do tests to make sure it works.

Man, Orange – they sure made you look pathetic today!

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Posted in To Pelephone | 2 Comments »

The Lawyer

Posted by Paula on February 12, 2011

We went to our first meeting with the lawyer on Friday. It was a good meeting. He listened, he saw, and the evidence is so amazingly clear. He feels confident that we can easily win on the financial damages, the over-charging, the ridiculous claims of lines we never got, equipment we never received, etc.

That was the easier part. The harder part will be showing the tremendous damage this has done to our family, to our business. That is what the lawyer will now check and do research on and then get back to us.

How do you put value on the agony we have suffered?

The lawyer feels this is so obvious, we could likely get Orange to compensate us for the monetary issues that Gal caused by forgery and fraud, by manipulation and falsehoods. But he also is sure that Orange will never pay for the time they have stolen from us, the endless hours of phone calls begging them to listen, the damages to business and clients. This is not something they will recognize without it going to court.

But it is something that the courts will likely pay attention to – if the judge has elderly parents, she will be infuriated at the dangers of cutting elderly people off without means of communication.

If the judge has a son in the army, the situation in which our son found himself and our inability to call him, will resonate there.

Further, a simple look at the emails and lists of phone calls will be enough to show what Orange has done – in malice, in spite, in indifference.

Before we started this, in the first meeting with the wonder workers, they asked us what we wanted. As I wrote here – all we wanted was for Orange to just release us. Take their stupid phones and their stupid billing and just end our agony. As the Orange manager so eloquently put it, that deal is gone; water under the bridge; ended, over, not on the table.

Now, we told the lawyer, now we go for the damages they caused, for the agony of having made the huge mistake of dealing with them.

No longer towards resolution, now we go for justice.

Posted in Lawsuit, Towards Justice | 1 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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I Was Wrong

Posted by Paula on February 9, 2011

It is with deep astonishment that I admit I have been wrong about Orange all along. I thought they had taken 16 Cellcom lines and somehow miraculously converted them to 66 lines.

I was mistaken and I acknowledge it publicly.

We have the spreadsheet of numbers and there it is…

We have 74 lines, not 66.

Orange, you amaze me. Your miraculous deceit has reached new heights. Not 66 lines – 74. Oh, and for these 74 lines, Gal has claimed we have 49 machines.

49 machines…for 16 people. Amazing.

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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?

Answer:

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.

Posted in Orange Harassment, Orange Partner Agony | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

A Message for Gal

Posted by Paula on February 7, 2011

It was so interesting to meet you. You are so charming, so helpful. You were helpful when you promised that Orange would not bill us until we had completed our dealings with Cellcom. You lied.

You were so helpful when I told you months later that Orange was taking money and I didn’t know why. You said they shouldn’t have, and you would check it out. You lied then too.

You told my husband that he needed to sign the contract and he gave you his electronic signature. You were so helpful when you put it on another 40+ pages that he didn’t sign. That’s apparently called fraud.

You were so helpful when you stamped my corporate stamp on the places you wanted me to sign. Except the one that you must have missed. But it’s okay, apparently “someone” signed the page with my signature anyway – of course, that’s called forgery.

You were so helpful when you offered to give us new SIM cards to replace the confusion of which phones went with what SIM card. Of course, you then activated both sets and helped Orange to charge us for 66 lines as compared to the 16 we had ordered. That’s called deceit.

Yes, you were so charming and so dishonest. And now we find you’ve done the same thing to others. And we’ve told Orange this…and yet, you still work there. Isn’t that proof that Orange rewards dishonesty?

I wonder if you cheated anyone else today; if you took someone’s account and began someone else’s cellular agony today as you created mine a bit over a year ago.

I wish you could read English. I wish you could understand this blog or that someone would read it to you. I wish, truly wish we never had the misfortune of meeting you or the company you work with.

The good news, I keep telling myself, is that soon the lawyer will deal with this. Soon, I think, very soon, you’ll have to appear in court and explain yourself. That will be interesting. I wonder if you will be charming; I wonder if you’ll smile. More…I wonder if you’ll lie.

Probably.

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Adi’s Latest Lies

Posted by Paula on February 7, 2011

We spoke to Itzik – someone new – at Orange. He is the manager of the Customer Connections division (whatever that is). He’s a manager. He’s got little time, but he wants to solve this. No, just kidding.

He says that Adi, God knows what her position is, offered to cancel all the unused lines a while back. “What does that mean?” my son asks. “Does it mean you will refund the money you took for those lines?” My son explained to Itzik that we didn’t order these lines. This was Orange’s incompetence at best – outright fraud at worst.

“No, it doesn’t mean that,” Itzik counters, “and anyway, it doesn’t matter. That deal is off the table.”

That deal, that Adi supposedly offered to us, was never on the table. It was never offered to us. Adi lied about that – what a surprise.

Itzik has no solution for us and no, he doesn’t want to resolve this. He understands that there is no where to go but court. “If you want to go to court,” Itzik says, “go ahead.”

Gee, Itzik – what in God’s name makes you think we need your permission?

And so – we look forward to our meeting with the lawyer later this week. Our wonder workers will be there at the meeting to explain to the lawyer all that they have discovered.

Orange was offered, time and time again, to resolve this. They leave us no choice and with that realization comes relief so grand. I wonder how a judge will respond when he hears of all that Orange has done to us; all we have suffered.

At some point, I hope he will turn to the Orange lawyers and say quite simply, “you are idiots.”

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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.

Posted in Orange Harassment, Orange Partner Agony, Towards Resolution | Leave a Comment »

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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