The Kewl Doodz 'n' Chyx

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Orange Home Broadband unbelievably sucks

Posted by Martin Poulter on 22 March 2008

I’ve learnt at great expense in time and money that Orange Home Broadband is not to be touched with a bargepole. Not because of some glitch that was specific to my case: as Gid found with their mobile phone service, there’s something broken about the whole culture of the company.

Orange, once known for good customer service, has given up on its customers. It enthusiastically sends out marketing and sets up payments, but shows little interest in providing the products and services they’re advertising, and their inability to provide what they’ve been paid for is treated as the customer’s fault.

A couple of years ago, I had repeated mailings inviting me to renew my mobile phone contract at a much more expensive rate to get “free Broadband”. On the face of it, it was a worthwhile offer, but the crap I’ve had to put up with includes:

  • Never getting the broadband upgrade. For a whole year, it was going to happen “soon”.
  • Being told that my problem would be sorted out, that an order had been put through and details recorded, only to find out next time I called that they had no record at all of that previous call and no action had been taken. This happened a few times.
  • Being told, after signing up to the mobile phone contract and being assured that the broadband was a formality, that the free broadband deal was no longer available.
  • After being on hold for ages, speaking to someone who could not help with my query because he only seemed to know a few phrases of English.
  • Navigating through the menus to get to the number for a specific problem, to be told “we don’t deal with that here: you need to call this number…” then being given the exact number I’d just dialled.
  • Talking to five different customer service people in the course of an hour, only getting to the fifth person by threatening to become irate.
  • Being assured that by calling a particular number I could arrange a refund, only to be told, “No we can’t do that here”.
  • Being allocated a high-priority customer service person to monitor my case week by week, who told me week after week that nothing was happening, that “it had been escalated to Head Office”, that Head Office hadn’t done anything…
  • Being promised a refund for the internet account I’d continued to pay for, then months later being told that’s impossible, then being promised a refund again, then finding it’s only partial because they “forgot” to make the full payment.
  • After putting in a request to close the account, receiving a letter telling me to make the same request again because one of the codes in their database was wrong (as though that’s my fault).
  • Getting the “we are busy at the moment – call back at a less busy time” message no matter what time of the day I called.
  • Being assured that my broadband would not be cut off without my agreement, then finding out later that day that it had already been cut off.
  • Being absolutely, emphatically assured that information about closing my account was being sent to me and there would be no need for me to call up again, even though I’d been misled on the previous calls.
  • Having a sales call to try to get me to renew my mobile phone contract again. I said I was going to research my options, and then had to deal with the sales person getting angry at me for not immediately agreeing to her offer. Nice way to reward customer loyalty!

I know I should report this to OFTWAT or whoever regulates them, but I can’t be bothered and instead look to this blog for instant consumer power. It’s no surprise that Orange have been rated the worst broadband provider. I see that they sponsor a prize for fiction: surely it should be won by their own marketing.

Update 7th April: Last night I noticed on my bank statement that payments were taken by Orange from my account in February and March, despite my having ceased to be a customer in November (in fact I’m now a customer of a rival service provider). Argh!

So I called this morning. The first person I talk to says it’s my fault because this is an “illegal transfer”. No, what’s probably illegal is abusing the direct debit system to take money for a service which your company refuses to provide. I know I didn’t use a MAC number to transfer my line to the new service provider, but that’s because it proved impossible to get the number off Orange, and anyway the new provider didn’t need the number.

The second person I talk to says she can arrange for my account to be cancelled in 30 days’ time, claims there is no record of me previously giving notice. Hence I can’t get a refund for the two months, and what’s more there is another payment going to be taken this month.

The third and last person I talk to is in the Escalations department. He admits that there is a record of me severing my account last year, and promises both a refund and that no more money will be taken out of my account. I’ll also take this up with the bank.

What I’ve learnt, and should have cottoned on to months ago, is that when you sever your relationship with Orange, sever it completely: cancel your direct debits and get out of any financial arrangement with the company. Then take off and nuke the site from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure.

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One Response to “Orange Home Broadband unbelievably sucks”

  1. Tom Gidden said

    Sorry to hear that, MLP… IIRC, Orange Broadband was Wanadoo which was Freeserve, and I guess things can’t have changed that much since then.

    Saying that, most broadband providers in the UK suck. They have the attitude that they’re doing you a favour selling you service.

    I think the lesson is to just not be loyal to a company: as soon as they start pissing you off, threaten to leave, and be prepared to have your bluff called. After switching away from Orange (mobile), I decided I’d been a bit naïve to stay with them out of loyalty/longevity. They all treat potential new customers better than existing customers these days.

    Incidentally, the NHS works in a similar way, in my experience. Contrary to what you’d hope, the louder, more complainy patients get dealt with faster. A real shame desirable traits like loyalty, civility and politeness are so undervalued nowadays.

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