Thursday, April 1, 2010

My experience with Orange UK customer services

OK, so I know I have already blogged about this, but wanted to get it all into one entry. Reason being is, I want to copy it and send it to any organisation, governing body, or media body that wants to read it. As a whole I feel the way Orange have dealt with this matter is ridiculous, so it deserves as much attention as it can get. So here goes.

On Thursday 25th March I awoke to find my Blackberry was not sending or receiving data. Its not the first time it has happened, but usually a battery pull or re-registering it on the network solves the problem. However on this occasion it didn't.
After doing all the usual things I decided to call Orange and report it as a fault. I called them at about 11am, and spoke to the handset faults team, who after running some basic diagnostics were unable to resolve the issue. The matter was then escalated to the next level, and I spoke to someone else who ran me through a whole host of diagnostics, including deleting settings, resending things etc. None of which worked. At this point he suggested purging me from the network was the last resort, and set about getting this done. Sadly this didn't work either. He then said he had exhausted all the options and needed to speak with someone about replacing the handset, and he would call be back..... The call back never came.

I made a couple more calls to Orange, that day, but nothing was resolved. I spoke to another guy that evening, who again ran through some ideas, but was unable to resolve it either. He too said replacement would be the best call on the matter. Just wanting to be sure it was a handset fault and not a network fault, I asked if he could call me back once I was at home, so I could try and alternative SIM in the handset. 30 mins later he called back, and I tried the SIM..... Nothing.

The strange part in all this is, both my BIS SIM's work fine in my other Blackberry (8520) Full BIS service, no issues. But when put in the 9700 neither can use the data service. Giving him this information he too was satisfied that it was the handset, and requested a replacement be issued. To my surprise the request was denied, and the matter was passed to networks as that is where is was now believe the fault lay. Quite how this could be the case, with both SIM's operating fine in another handset, I do not know, but then who am I?

I was told it could take a couple of days, so left it until Saturday afternoon to call back. When I called back I was told network were aware of the issue, but had not finished with the matter yet, and I would have to wait until they have made their decision on the matter until it could progress any further. Over the weekend I was told networks work normal hours, networks work limited hours, networks run a skeleton crew, and finally networks don't work at all over the weekend, so nothing will be done with the case til Monday.

Sunday comes around, I call Orange to ask what the outcome is with network. They tell me that its just being looked at now, and hopefully I will get a call back that afternoon, but to give them til late, as they work til 10. 10pm comes and goes, no call back. By this time it is about the 4th time I have been promised a call back, and it has not come. Monday now rolls around and to my shock I get a call. A voice says "hi I'm from customer relations, I have someone on the line who can help with your faulty Blackberry", seconds later I am connected.... To level 1 tech support, in what sounded like India. I don't make that assumption from the fact I am speaking to an Indian guy, but more to do with the loud native chatter in the background drowning out his voice as he tries to speak to me.
Now at this point again I get a little wound up. Firstly, I have been through level 1 over and over with numerous people over the last few days. And secondly that the instructions he is giving me (screen prompted of course) are wrong. Telling me to "press the trackball" errrm, the 9700 has a pad, not a ball. Eventually, as expected he admits defeat and passes me to the next level.
I am now connected to a guy who says he hopes he can help me, as its his first day. GREAT!
After a few mins of explaining that the SIM's work fine in other handsets he also states that its not a network issue, but a handset issue. However they cannot replace it at this point.
I ask for an escalation and a call back as its now getting stupid.

Somewhere along the line, I forget where now) the matter is passed to RIM themselves. As it is now believe this is where the real issue lays. (I will come back to this in a bit)

(at this point, forgive me if I contradict myself with dates etc, with the hours of calls I have honestly lost track of time)

On Tuesday, its now been 6 days, no data, no replacement handset, no sign of an answer to it all. I am getting fed up now, so I place another call to see what is going on. I also ask for the matter to be escalated to a manager or team leader the day before. This is the second time I have done this, and for the second time, surprise surprise the call back never comes. I also called retentions to see how much it would cost me to leave Orange. By this point I am really starting to get fed up of messing about with a broken phone, pulling the battery out etc to satisfy the curiosity of a tech support guy who is sure he can fix it.
The guy at retentions was very nice and polite, disappointed the Orange have dealt with it so badly and says he wants to make some calls and get back in touch with me and hopefully he can speed things up for me. No shocks, but no calls back, no resolution, nothing. Yet another department full of empty promises.

Tuesday afternoon rolls around and I am searching the web to find a way to speak to someone more senior, who can maybe just over ride the ongoing stupidity, and agree to replace the handset. I find a complaint site about Orange (seems there are a few of these now) with the email address so I give it a go.
I fire off an email of annoyance, explaining the situation in a much detail as I can, and cross my fingers. An hour later I get a call from the executive office who want to discuss the matter further. My hopes rise for the first time in a week.

On speaking to the guy all seems well, sounds like I have someone on my side finally, and the name "executive" would kind of indicate that the matter is finally serious. At this point I should mention, I have been a loyal customer to Orange for about 6 years now. With 6 contract with them, and an average annual spend of £2000+. While I don't expect "special" treatment, I do hope that they will take the case seriously, and try and look after a good customer. Apparently this has no bearing and they don't give a toss.
The call ends with me agreeing to give Orange and RIM til Thursday afternoon to try and decide on the matter, and get my phone working again. I wait all Thursday afternoon with baited breath, hoping to see GPRS appear in upper case..... it does not happen.

I call the same guy at Orange back, and tell him the bad news. Now at this point its day 8 (yes EIGHT) of this charade, so surely with Easter holidays looming (the next 4 days) something is going to be decided now. We start the conversation, but I can tell its going nowhere. As he continues to talk, I can tell there is NO intention of replacing the handset for me. He goes on to explain that they will use this to learn from, and will make changes if deemed necessary to the way they handle these matter in future. Now I'm all for change, and improvement, but how the hell exactly does this help my case right now. Eight days without my 9700, and I'm meant to be impressed about promises about the future?
I explain that I am frustrated beyond description now, and just want the Blackberry away from me. I am sick of being the test dummy for the tech guys asking me to go through menu's and pull the battery, and just want the phone out of my sight until they have fixed it or replaced it. The response I get to this is amazing. They refuse to take the handset back until RIM have made their decision of if the fault lays with them, just in case it can be fixed over the air. The funniest part is the reason for this... Apparently Orange would not want to cause a delay getting a working phone back with me!! Are you freakin kiddin me or what. Its been 8 days, when exactly did you start caring about that !
Then the killer blow. Now I don't expect to speak to a nerd with knowledge of every handset out there, but I don't expect to be spoken to like a complete a-hole either. He starts to tell me what they believe the fault is, and why they cannot replace the handset at this point. Its something like this.

Exec: The fault is with the account, so even if we send you a replacement handset out, it would still not fix anything.
Me: Yes it will, both accounts are working fine on my other handset, so replacing the handset clearly does work.
Exec: No it wont, the problem is with the PIN, so if we replace it the problem will remain.
Me: The PIN is tied to the handset, if the fault is with the PIN, then its a handset fault, and replacing it will solve everything.
Exec: No, the account is the problem, you wont be able to use another Blackberry on that account.
Me: I already am, I'm using my 8520 just fine. I can log into either of my Blackberry accounts, and assign them to the 8520, and they both work perfectly, data, email, BBS etc. So its nothing to do with the account, its the handset, so replace it!
Exec: The issue is with the PIN......

I give up trying to explain at this point as its becoming very frustrating now, to be insulted, to have your understanding of the way it works questioned, and to be messed about to such an extreme.

Now from what I have learned from places like Crackberry (thanks guys for all your help) the PIN could be the issue, as RIM could have a block on it for some unknown reason. Which is unfortunate, but Orange know that they CAN issue a replacement to me, to get my service back up and running, then take the issue up with RIM about why it was blocked. But instead I have to sit around for 2 weeks with a bricked phone sitting on the side, waiting for someone to finally decide I can have a new phone!

So, its Thursday night now. The end of the 8th day of no phone (thank god for keeping my 8520). The outcome is I have to wait for RIM to contact Orange to tell them what next. Then at that point Orange MAY finally decide to replace the handset. But with my luck the whole matter will turn another corner. I mentioned 2 weeks without a phone earlier as tomorrow is Good Friday, so all customer services are closed. Then its the weekend, then Easter Monday, so no services resume til Tuesday. So days 9, 10, 11, and 12 are wasted. Who will day 13 be unlucky for.... Somehow I think me!

So my sincere thanks to Orange, for taking 7 hours of my life, wasted talking on the phone to people pretending to give a damn, promising to call back, then not bothering. I am now left with a talk plan WAY over its allowance, due to the hours spent on the phone to your tech support. A seriously bitter taste in my mouth over how you treat big spending and loyal customers, and a ticking timebomb in my head about if I bother to remain with Orange or not. Although grasped by the balls due to the dates on all the contracts, I am not going to be had over a barrel and will not stop until I have told this story to anyone and everyone who will listen.

Letters have been sent now to all the appropriate bodies, as well as the customer services, and head office of Orange. I have contacted RIM directly to ask their opinion on the matter and their part in the issue, and will just keep going.

The chances are I will stay with Orange if this gets resolved soon, all my expenses are reimbursed, and we talk hardball about where we go from here.

After so many years of loyalty, and singing the network praises, I am left with just one thing to say..... Orange UK, right now YOU SUCK!

PS I have missed out lots of things here, most of which can be found in earlier entries, but I hope it gives a rough idea of the crap I have been putting up with for over a week now.

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