Attack of the Orange Mist

Posted on October 16, 2012. Filed under: Customer Service |

Also known as: just how hard can it be to become a customer of Orange?

Saturday 29th September 2012:
Placed an order for a SIM-free iPhone 5 from CarPhone Warehouse web site.
Placed an order for a matching iPhone 15.50 Pay-Monthly SIM from the Orange web site (12 months, 300 minutes, 500MB, £10.50 online price).
That was easy: except order-receipt confirmation came straight away from CPW, nothing from Orange.  I can live with that I decided, but it should have set alarm bells ringing.

Monday 1st October 2012:
Notified that phone on its way!
Nothing from Orange, so phoned up to ask about status of the order, to be told it had been received, but “often” confirmation emails don’t get sent out(!).  It’s sent 2nd class, so should be with me in a couple of days.

Tuesday 2nd October 2012:
Phone arrived!

Friday 5th October 2012:
After 3 days of idly stroking my new phone, I get home from work to find that the Orange SIM has been delivered.
Insert into phone.  No signal. Go to orange.co.uk/activate as instructed in the accompanying instruction booklet, but it says it couldn’t activate this SIM and could I kindly phone Orange. So I do. After 3 hours of being cut off, of being passed around several different departments in India, of being asked my name to which I reply “Marlon” and then in reply they say “Hello Simon”, I’m passed to someone in the UK who explains that the number/SIM I’ve been sent is registered to someone else (presumably called Simon), but the guy will sort it, and get back to me.  He never does.

Sunday 7th October 2012:
Go into a local Orange store to ask for assistance.  Am fobbed off with claims that “it’s not the sort of thing we can do in-store, because the Orange business is split into 2, and it’s in the other half”.  The assistant does though phone up someone who he thought could help, and I pass on the details to someone very apologetic.
He questions me on how on earth I have this SIM card because it belongs to someone else – why was it sent to me in the first place then????  He says it will take a couple of hours to sort, but he’ll do it and get back to me.  He never does.
In the interim, I go into CarPhone Warehouse to talk through the problem, and am told that because I’d inserted an Orange SIM card into the phone in the first place, whether it works or not, the phone is now locked to Orange!!  I was advised that I could unlock it by going to some backstreet operation that would in the process invalidate the warranty.  On my brand new iPhone 5.  That passes for sensible professional advice these days?

Monday 8th October 2012:
Phone Orange during the day to ask why I was not called back yesterday, but of course there is no record of my case or of anyone looking into it.  I go through the same routine again of repeating the details, of being quizzed about how on earth I’d managed to obtain that particular SIM, and basically what was I messing about at. Me. My fault.

Tuesday 9th October 2012:
Another 2 hours in the evening of being on the phone to Orange, of being cut off, of being quizzed, of being treated with suspicion.
I was eventually put on to “Tony” with a Geordie accent, who claimed to not believe what had happened, couldn’t believe the trials I was having to simply become an Orange customer, and vowed to resolve it. He came back to report the basis of the problem: the SIM in question was apparently one that should get sent to businesses when they want to evaluate Orange on iPhone, and hence it belonged to Someone Else.  He had no explanation for why it had been sent to me in the first place. He’d been trying to look at getting it reregistered, at which point I “suggested” that it might be a lot easier if  I was just sent a new SIM instead?  Good idea, he said, and got onto Post Sales immediately who simply popped one in the post.  Apparently. First class, or second? If it’s a new SIM it’ll be first. Definitely. Nothing to worry about. A day or two.

Monday 16th October 2012:
My priority, important package is delivered 6 days later.  2nd Class, or did Orange manage to find a third class?
Still, not to worry, it’s here, Orange have it sorted.  This is it. Nothing can go wrong.
I put the SIM in the phone, and power on. No network signal.
I try to register the SIM on orange.co.uk/activate.  “An unexpected error occured” it helpfully informs me, and could I please phone the same number I called, what was it, 11 days ago.
I supply my details. I’m told I need to “walk into an Orange shop and they’ll sort it”.  I point out that the booklet that came with the SIM says the SIM should either already be activated or else I should activate it on-line, that is, traipsing into a store that had previously said they couldn’t help me wasn’t something I should be expected to do.  The chap then immediately declares he’ll work on activating it straight away, and that the SIM will be activated within 24 hours.  No question, it will be done. I note the time, 17:25.

Tuesday 17th October 2012:
I’ve given it the full 24 hours, and phone again. I ask why the SIM is not active, I’m asked for the phone number which I supply, and am then told “no, that number belongs to someone else.  It’s not yours, you must have told me it wrong”. I explain again how I came by it.  He goes away, and comes back to claim that the number must have been stamped wrong on the packaging.  I calmly explain again, that this is a new SIM, sent to me yesterday.  I calmly explain that the number that I’ve read out is printed on the packet that contained the SIM, that it is printed on the SIM card, that when I look on the phone itself it’s registered in the phone and indeed that the SIM number itself is reported within the phone and that therefore, logically, the details on the packaging MUST be the same as on the SIM itself”. He goes away for 20 minutes, to come back to say that the number is that of an Orange store and can’t possibly be mine. I now start to doubt my own sanity, but the chap declares that he will now work personally on getting this sorted and will call me back on my landline sometime later.  I am not holding my breath, but while waiting I try calling the number, expecting to get through to some Orange store, but get an automated message saying the “number is not active”.
Yet again, there is a discrepancy between reality and the information coming through from Orange.  I am left with a VERY expensive phone that can not be used, I am left with a network whose “Support” services appear to have no intention of resolving my issue or of allowing me to become a customer, and I am left with the suspicion that I have been fobbed off yet again, that my “case” continues to go unlogged, and that when I call again tomorrow that I will have to repeat all of my details again, be told that I shouldn’t have that SIM, that I can’t read, and start the whole thing again.
My ideal solution now will be that Orange decide that I’m destined to not be a customer of theirs, that they and I can not exist in the same Universe, and that they bring all of their faculties to bear to unlock my phone immediately, so that I can then get my phone working on a network that is prepared to take me on as a customer. But in trying to make that happen I will have to dodge several airborne pigs and probably get to stroke a few unicorns in passing.
This had been a bad two and a half weeks to try to cut down on my wine intake.

Wednesday 18th October 2012:

It’s Groundhog Day, people!

12:30am, have been on the phone for another half hour.  This time, the patter went:

Automated message: … Orange prides itself on its customer service, so this call may be recorded (I really hope so!).

Assstant: Good morning, could you tell me your number and your name

Me: *read out number stamped on SIM card*, my name is Marlon

Assistant: *looks number up on her abaqus*, hello Anthony.

So this isn’t my number either, why I am I trying to use it, it’s the number of an Orange store!  But, but, but, none of this is MY FAULT!!!!

I’m advised again that I need to walk into an Orange store to get a replacement SIM card.  I explicitly ask if there’s any trace on Oranges system of my “case”, and receive the answer I’m expecting.

In the interim, @orangehelpers have contacted me via Twitter, I wonder if they’ll be friends (if they call me back that is)…

… So I’ve been into the nearest Orange store (Westfield, Derby), with a copy of this blog for “reference”:  I was met by a smiling Samantha, whose smile gradually faded as she read through the blog! However, she investigated, and discovered that someone in Orange had deactivated my whole account on the 13th for some reason, and so there wasn’t an account to transfer this SIM over to in the first place! So we set about creating a new account, dug out a new SIM for me, and by the time I’d come home and put it in the phone it was active, and the phone no longer took on the appearance of a very expensive door-stop.  So, for that, and for the attention and determination of Samantha, I must be grateful.

Is there a moral to this story? Maybe the nearest thing to one is that as it turns out I could have just gone into the store and set this all up in the first place, instead of trusting to this Interweb contraption: I had access to the same deal in-store as on-line, so maybe it’s a lesson in not taking the more lazy and seemingly “easier” option.

Or maybe I should just stop craving the latest “shiny”.

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