Monday, 17 December 2012

The future's no longer bright

'The future's bright, the future's Orange.' This was an old advertising slogan of the mobile phone operator Orange. There was a time when I would have agreed with it, but the slogan is a few years old and that time appears to have long since gone.

The text below is an email I sent today (December 17th 2012) to Orange's CEO Olaf Swantee. It will be very interesting to see if I get a reply and, if I do, what it will say.

"I am writing this email to complain about the unacceptable level of service I have received from Orange over the past few weeks. I contacted you earlier in the year regarding an issue which never got a satisfactory resolution. However, the incompetence of Orange over the last few weeks have caused the earlier issue to pale into insignificance. Below is a timeline and explanation of the problems I have been having.

August 14th 2012
I contacted you about a fault with my Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc and to express my disappointment at either having to pay a £25.00 excess charge to replace the handset, or a £100.00+ early upgrade fee. I sent the email following a conversation with a customer service representative who told me there was no possibility of the early upgrade fee being waived or reduced. This was not true - more of that later.

August 21st 2012
I contacted you again regarding the unsatisfactory resolution I had been offered, which was waiving the £25.00 excess fee. As I was close to the end of my contract I didn't wish to get a replacement handset only to then upgrade again in a couple of months' time.

Shortly after this the handset fault resolved itself so I let the matter drop until I decided to contact Orange again to discuss the possibility of upgrading earlier than my due date. This is where the new problems started.

November 30th 2012
I called the upgrade team to discuss upgrading my handset earlier. My chosen upgrade was to a Samsung Galaxy S3. I was quoted an early upgrade fee of around £40.00 and was told the handset would be free on a £36 a month contract. This was not true, the second time I'd been given false information. I agreed to pay the fee and the agent tried to process the payment but was unable to do so. She said she'd try on her line manager's PC and call me to let me know when it had gone through.

Later in the day, as I had not yet received a call, I contacted your call centre again. The agent I spoke to this time tried to process the upgrade but also could not. He explained this was due to an issue with my account and that he'd have to notify your IT Support. He offered me a free month's line rental for the inconvenience and said he'd be back in touch when the issue had been resolved.

I called and contacted the @OrangeHelpers Twitter account a number of times during the following week but was never given an ETA for the fault to be resolved, until I finally received a direct message from @OrangeHelpers on Friday 7th December advising that the issue had been sorted and I could process the upgrade.

December 7th 2012
I called your call centre and the agent processed my upgrade. However, he said that, because I was upgrading early there would be a charge of £39.99 for the handset, as well as the early upgrade fee. I explained to him that I'd been told otherwise and, after consulting with his line manager, he agreed to process the upgrade without the handset charge or early upgrade fee. Whilst this was an appreciable gesture, it rendered false what I had been told in August by one of your agents who was adamant that it was impossible to waive early upgrade fees and that directive had come down from the highest levels of management. The upgrade was processed correctly and delivery scheduled for Monday 10th.

December 10th 2012
I received the new handset and tried to carry out the SIM swap online. This failed so I then tried to call the automated helpline to do this. This also failed and I was transferred to an agent who said he'd processed the SIM swap for me and advised me to wait between 2 and 24 hours for it to go through. At the end of December 10th it still had not been processed.

December 11th 2012
The SIM swap had still not gone through so I contacted your call centre again. This time I was advised to turn the handset off for two hours as it this was necessary for the SIM swap to register. I did this but still nothing happened so I called again. On this occasion I was told that the SIM was faulty and that a new one would be sent out to me. However, I was also told that I could get a replacement SIM from an Orange retail store. This was the third piece of incorrect information.

I visited the Orange store on the Strand and received a replacement SIM, which the agent called through to activate while I was there. Not once did he say this wouldn't work. Presuming everything was OK I left the handset turned off overnight.

December 12th 2012
Upon turning the handset back on the replacement SIM had still not been activated. I contacted your call centre again and the agent could see that the new SIM activation had been requested, but couldn't understand why it hadn't gone through.

December 13th 2012
The replacement SIM had still not been activated. Following a series of tweets to @OrangeHelpers, one of the Social Media agents - Alison - called me directly. She explained that I had been misinformed about getting a replacement SIM from a retail store, which was why it could not be activated. She said to contact her directly on Twitter once I had received my new SIM from Orange (the one posted on December 11th) and she would activate it for me. Alison was the only one of your agents that took any real ownership of my issues.

December 14th 2012 
New SIM not yet received.

December 15th 2012
Despite me not having received my new SIM yet, Orange saw fit to deactivate the old one, leaving me completely without service. I contacted your faults team and the agent said that his system was saying the SIM swap had been completed, which was strange as I hadn't received the new SIM yet. He tried to reactivate the old SIM and advised me to wait a couple of hours, and if it still didn't work then to wait overnight. Needless to say, neither of these worked.

December 16th 2012
My old SIM was still inactive so I contacted your call centre again. The agent advised me to factory reset my old handset, which I did, but still the old SIM hadn't been reactivated.

December 17th 2012
As I type this email I have finally received the SIM sent on December 11th. I have tweeted @OrangeHelpers to inform them of this and provided the SIM and mobile numbers as requested. As yet they have not replied (around 2 hours later). I have also tried to activate the SIM myself both online and over the telephone. Both these attempts failed.

So, I have currently had a new phone for one week which I haven't been able to use, and have been totally without service for approaching two days. I'm hoping this will be resolved today, but am not holding my breath.

I find this level of service totally and utterly unacceptable. Not only have I been misinformed on three separate occasions, but also, with the exception of Alison in your Social Media team, not once has an agent taken real ownership of my issue. I did not receive one update on how my queries have been progressing and was only dealt with when I contacted Orange myself, never proactively - again with the exception of Alison.

At this moment in time I'm wishing I had never bothered upgrading, if this is the level of service which is now the norm within Orange, with agents misinforming customers, SLAs constantly being missed and general apathy towards customer satisfaction.

My cooling off period of 14 days from upgrading expires on Friday 21st. Be assured that if this issue isn't resolved by then I shall be cancelling my contract and informing everybody I know about the issues I've had and advising them as strongly as possible to have nothing to do with your organisation.

I await your reply to this with interest."

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