Friday, June 18, 2004

The futures not bright at all...

As you may have read in an earlier blog, im a bit of a techno phobe. Although im sometimes not helped by the incompetence of others. Take Orange for example.

After much ridicule about my brick-esque mobile phone i took the plunge and upgraded to a phone with Camera and Video messaging. 'Upgrades are easy' i was mis-informed, 'you dont need to do anything' they lied, 'its all done for you' they sniggered.

Being an Orange customer of at least 5 years standing, I have never encountered any problems at all with the service I have received from Orange. Which is an achievement in itself in this age of appalling service given to British consumers. My recent experience leads me to realise that the only reason ive never had any problems is because ive never had the cause to speak to anyone at Orange. For thats when the problems begin.

I upgraded my phone very early May 2004, I was amazed to receive my phone the following day, but less surprised to note there was no SIM card in the package. I rang Orange to tell them this. The pleasant gentleman let me know that sometimes the SIM card is sent separately and advised me to wait a few more days. A few more days passed and still no SIM card, I rang again and was told by an equally pleasant lady that a SIM card for an upgrade would never be sent separately and another one would be sent in the post. She spoke to me as if i should know this. I should have seen the early warning signs. Two contacts, two versions of events.

Here followed a few rounds of telephone tennis lasting a few weeks, where I would ring enquiring about the whereabouts of the SIM card only to be told it was on its way. One day i awoke, saw the light and it dawned that it was coming no more. So I rang and demanded a new one was sent. One was, and I received it pretty soon after.

It wasn’t till early June that I registered the SIM card, mainly because i couldnt fathom out how to change phones and SIM cards without losing all my numbers, but I looked forward to using the facilities on my new phone like a child on Boxing Day morning wanting to play with his Christmas presents. The phone didn’t reciprocate my advances though. I rang a few days later to find out why my photo and video messaging wasn’t working. Apparently the reason was that someone had neglected to change my account details when doing the upgrade. Orange in classic 'right arm not speaking to left arm' shock. So I was told that it was now rectified.

I again tried to use the new facilities, again no response, again another phone call, again another promise, again another let down. This circle of frustration happened a few more times but I cant really be bothered to go into the details as my therapist says I should relax more. I keep having nightmares that phones are breaking into my house and laughing at me in the shower.

Then a bizarre thing happened, Orange texted me saying 'call us free by dialling 249'. I wasnt sure whether the Customer Service number had changed, whether they wanted me to ring them for any particular reason or maybe they just fancied a bit of a chinwag. So i waited a few days until temptation got the better of me and i rang the number. It was someone wanting me to answer a questionnaire about Orange Customer Service. I thought I was being set up. I had a field day. It was carnage.

The top and bottom of this sorry episode is that nothing about my upgrade is an upgrade; the phone is all but a downgrade and calling the service a downgrade would be complimenting it. Its about 8 weeks since i had my phone and i still cant use it properly. I still dont know if the problem is phone related, network related, SIM card related or the bookies favourite: plain old Watski related. It could be Weapons of Mass Destruction related though for all Orange are bothered.

Im currently waiting for a phonecall back from Orange 'technical support'. I rang 2 days ago and was told i would be called back straight away, i rang again today and was told the same thing. Their units of measuring time must be different to the rest of the human race. Maybe their 'straight away' means exactly the opposite of the meaning on Earth.

The Orange Customer Service people are very nice, very knowledgeable and probably smile very sweetly but they are equally clueless. In these days of dog eat dog in the business world how many times should a customer need to speak to an organisation that relies on the business of its customers before a problem is solved? I must have called Orange about 10 times.

The shame of the situation is that i would threaten them with moving my business, but they know as well as i do that the industry customer service standard, like the standard of Customer Service in general, is no better. So id be worse off in the long run. And they probably wouldnt give a monkeys anyway as im a very small rat in a very large global sewer. Maybe i should just be thankful ive had no problems before.

I fired off a letter to the Head of Orange UK today, lets see how long it takes them to get back. I hope its not straight away. Stand by for updates.