Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Racoon Rant

Reader Advisory - this Racoon is in rant mode...

Back in June 2005 I took out a new 12 month contract on my mobile phone. When Orange wouldn’t match their ‘new customer’ deal for me (a long term customer), I threatened to leave. Strangely at that point they offered me a really good deal. So good that before confirming I ran through the details again with them not once, not twice, but three times, just to be sure.

Next thing I know they're trying to charge me an extra £10 a month.

After kicking up, they eventually admitted that they’d had some problems with their computer system that meant it had allowed their staff to offer deals that didn’t really exist.

I’m afraid my reaction was one of ‘well you have my sympathy, but that changes nothing, you made a 12 month legally binding contract with me and just as you wouldn’t let me back out, I’m afraid what’s good for the goose is good for the gander’.

We then hit the ‘computer says no’ syndrome, whereby the Customer Ambassador(!) I’d eventually been transferred up to, claimed that whilst I might be right it was physically impossible for the deal to be honoured.

Thing is just as it’s not my problem if their computer system screws up in the first place, it’s equally not my problem if their stupid computer system doesn’t enable them to meet their legal obligations. Let’s be clear that’s very much their problem.

Send me a £10 cheque each month if you like, I suggest, I really don’t care how you make it happen, but let’s be clear I will only be paying the agreed amount for the agreed service.

Accordingly she eventually agreed to fix the situation by giving me two £60 credits. The first of which would be credited to my account that month, the second in December.

I honestly can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to ring up to chase that second payment. The ritual is this, I ring Orange, get put in a queue for between 5 and 20 minutes, eventually get to speak to someone, explain the problem, the party at the other end confirms that there is a note on my account stating the second £60 was to have been made in December, they agree it hasn’t been paid, they can’t personally resolve that so they put me on hold, I get cut off, ring back go through the whole thing again and eventually get the solid, absolute promise that the credit will be on the next month’s bill.

The next bill arrives, no sign of any credit, start the whole sorry cycle again.

So come early August when I’m thinking of upgrading phone and contract, you’ll understand why given the credit still hasn’t happened, I’m not exactly feeling totally loyal to Orange. Mind you, if I leave will I ever see that money?

Plus the Orange shop wants to charge me £99 to upgrade phone, despite the fact that as a new customer going onto the plan in question I’d get it free (which I could effectively do by cancelling my current account and starting again, but I’d lose my number...even though I wouldn't if I move to a different provider).

So I head into Carphone Warehouse and enquire about other networks. A really helpful guy goes through the options and yes I can get a good deal and the phone free with various other networks. O2 are looking good, but given my particular pattern of usage the Orange call plan does suit me slightly better. So he asks why I’m wanting to change from Orange, so I explain that I’ve had problems but also that they say they’ll charge me for the upgrade. He doesn’t think that’s correct and suggests he rings them himself, which he does and bingo apparently I can actually get the phone free.

A little reluctantly I get convinced to give Orange one last chance and I sign up for the Racoon £35 contract for 18 months, giving me 500 cross network minutes, 200 texts and 250 landline minutes.


Then my next bill arrives.

Lo and behold they have at long last sorted the £60 credit. Only 9 months late.

But what’s this? Racoon 35 plan – correct so far. 12 month plan incorporating 250 cross network minutes, 50 texts and 125 fixed line minutes.


Oh and it gets even better they’re also charging me £6 for an additional 100 text bundle and £1.50 for an itemised bill, despite having opted out months ago.

So basically I agreed £35 for 500 cross network minutes, 200 texts and 250 landline minutes and what I’ve got is £42.50 for 250 cross network minutes, 150 texts and 125 fixed line minutes. Or even more simply I’m paying £7.50 more than agreed for roughly 50% less than was agreed.

So I ring them, listen to music for 10 minutes, then speak to someone who politely tells me that unfortunately all their computer systems are down, but he absolutely promises that someone will ring me back later or worst case the next day.

All I get the next day is a text asking me to ring them to provide feedback on how my experience of their customer services was.

There doesn’t appear to be an option for “very polite, but as much use as a chocolate fireguard”.

So I phone yet again and once through, a very helpful guy goes through it all and though I have to be really firm again and again about “this is the contract I signed, this is the contract I need you to honour”, it seems we’ve got there. He promises me all will be put right from next month’s bill and he’ll credit back 50% of the last month’s charges to compensate for this month. He can’t send a new bill confirming that, but he will send a letter.

I’m still waiting…

I’ll let you know.

Yeah right like anyone will have read all this, can’t say I blame you, but it made me feel better venting my spleen. And as someone who was once desperate enough for employment that I took a telesales job, I always try not to take out my frustrations with the wider organisation on the poor schmo at the end of the line; so better I take out my frustrations on the blog than Sanjev in Pune or Jason in Gateshead or wherever…

Plus in 18 months if someone could please remind me to reread this liturgy of pain when I’m deciding ‘should I stay or should I go’…


Dave said...

It seems the only time you can ever get anywhere with mobile phone companies is when you decide to leave. I wanted to upgrade to an N80 but was going to cost £135 with Vodafone. So I rang up and asked for the transfer code for my phone. Instead of being told it I get passed to a sales advisor who is clearly desperate to retain me. Bottom line was I got the phone for free and 500 free texts a month. But now I've started using the internet on the phone - it shows up as free on my bill but when I ring to find out how much free mb I have each month they simply say I have no allowance and that I will be charged. So for now I just have to keep watching my bill online to see if and when I go over the "non-existent" allowance.

Martyn said...

Don't talk to me about phone companies!!! I came to upgrade with T-mobile, and wanted an MDA3. I ended up cancelling my original contract and taking out a different contract with T-Mobile cos they couldn't match the price they offer new punters in my upgrade offer!! Once you're in their "caring" hands, they lose all interest. And don't even mention customer services...

sally said...

sadly, none of the others are any the years dicne they invented anonymous customer 'service' call centres, all we get is crap..tyring to get hold of anyone from Yorkshire Bank the other day, re work, either by e-mail or phone was impossible......they just would never get my business,,mainly because you can't contact them!!!!

Anonymous said...

I have been intrigued as to why our website at has been getting hits (about 200+ a month) from your blog and having read through the month of September I was able to find nothing that related to us.

However, it appears that you have accessed our site "right clicked" the Orange Racoon gif file and then inserted it in your blog. (The image has now disappeared as we have removed the page it was shown on).

Given the trauma which you experienced with Orange what a pity you did not call us and we could have saved you a trip to CPW and resolved your issues. Maybe next time!