Monday, December 27, 2010

This Thing With Orange...

"This thing with Orange is killing me" These are the words spoken by a husband in the early morning hours to his wife as they lay in bed sleepless and upset.

"How can I call you?" These are the words spoken by a young child to her mother in the first moments after she awakens. She calls me every day when she comes home from school. It is the price we pay for my being a working mother - those first minutes when a child runs in the house and tells her mother about her day usually take place in a telephone call.

"This is impossible," says Shmulik. "I have to have a phone to call S. and other officers and commanders." He was stranded today without notice when Orange suddenly closed our phone lines after months of ignoring our requests by email and phone for a meeting to explain how, how in God's name they were sending us monthly bills almost three times what it should be.

Nowadays, soldiers need their phones as a necessary part of their service. It is expected, if not required. When a soldier goes home from basic training, he needs to call his commanding officer or send him an SMS to confirm he arrived safely. If he is going to be late or has any problem - he has to call his commanding officer. Even during the Gaza War, communication that wasn't on encrypted phones was shortened enough to confuse but get the message across.

"I need you here," Elie once told his commanding officer. It was enough. It looked like something was happening on the Lebanese side of the border but Elie didn't have an encrypted phone to explain that he could see enemy forces moving nearby. It was enough - done on an unencrypted phone - our phone (no, not Orange, but Cellcom before we had the great misfortune to believe Orange could offer better service).

And when not in war, the army runs excercises - imagine, at this moment, you have just been called to war, that your unit has been mobilized. How fast can you reach your men? How fast can they be notified and ready to move? The army needs to know. And so more than once, Elie "mobilized." In the distant past before cellphones - the operatrion was not completed until the soldiers reached the base. Now, with cellphones, it is easier - pretend you've been mobilized. Call me back "as if" you'd gotten that call.

Every morning, I am the family alarm clocik. For some reason that is beyond my understanding, most of our family cannot wake up without my calling them. They go back to sleep - it can't be serious if Ima didn't call. With a family plan (at least we had one with Cellcom and arranged one even if Orange wasn't honoring it in the actual numbers and bills), it means I can gather clothes and begin dressing even as I call and wake them.

The only exception to this "Ima wakes us" rule is the soldier who must leave hours before. He will rise and leave on his own - but the rest wait for their mother. I could force the issue, but I don't. In the length of a life lived, what harm is there in these few years where I speak the first words to them each morning? "Good morning, my lovie," I say to my daughter. Why shouldn't she awaken to those words?

This morning, after Orange shut our phones without warning, I got out of bed and did it the old fashioned way. My feet are cold, for not having put on slippers and I want so much to crawl back into bed and desperately try for those last few minutes of sleep before my day begins and yet I come here to my computer.

I am angry at an insensitive phone company that forces my family, workers and friends, to face this day without the convenience of a phone. Writers are heading out to meetings - without phones. Mothers will not be able to reach their children. The alarm company cannot reach me to confirm that all is fine when the earliest to arrive in the office disarms the alarm. They may well send someone down to check the place.

An elderly couple will head up to Haifa in two hours - without phones. My mother teaches at the university there; my father enjoys the campus and wanders around until my mother calls him and tells him she is finished. Except today, she can't call him. He sometimes gets distracted with the views, or sits and ignores the time as he drinks coffee and reads a newspaper. My mother broke her hip many years ago and her leg a few years ago. She has weak bones - and today, she won't have a phone with her. |I am angry - and rightly so - you don't cut off the phone of two elderly people who don't speak Hebrew nearly well enough.

My son heads back to the army. He wants to call Pelephone today and take that deal they offered him. It is a special discount for soldiers - it includes hundreds of minutes of free time between army numbers. He is fed up and angry - and rightly so. You don't cut off a soldier's phone without warning.

My daughter will come home today - a young girl wanting to call her mother. That at least, I can solve. She was afraid yesterday when it was getting dark and she didn't have my office phone number - why should she when she has her own phone and she knows my number. But it didn't work yesterday - suddenly, without warning and so she was smart. She went to the neighbors and the neighbor sent me a note on Facebook. Today, at least, I have taken care of her. She has my office number - thanks to landlines and Bezek. She, at least, I can help.

And then there are those words my husband spoke to me a few hours ago; a whisper of a man who is sick and tired of trying to get a massive, insensitive, greedy corporation to listen. "This thing with Orange is killing me." Never more than now have I regretted signing the contract with Orange a year ago.

I opened a special blog to keep this issue away from this one. But who wants to read about how yet another large corporation is cheating yet another person? A Soldier's Mother has been going now for more than 3 years and I wanted to keep this blog about that and not about this...until yesterday when that and this collided.

We have been suffering with Orange for more than a year since we signed that contract and have been fighting ever since. The issues are complex - broken promises, over-billing, equipment not received, lines not opened. The simplest solution would have been a meeting with Orange to explain the bills. We tried that once with the head of the Jerusalem Business office - he came for a few hours - sat talking to his office on the phone making adjustments to the bill and decided, on his own, without explanations, what we were entitled to.

He canceled 17 lines and offered a compromise amount of 10,000 NIS credit if we'd forget the whole mess and just move on. Move on to what? How did you get to 10,000 NIS? Why can't you go phone by phone and discuss it? We asked him. He was in a rush to leave to his next appointment.

"After you pay," he said.

"Pay what?" we asked him.

He could not or would not answer. How do you pay a bill when you don't know what you are paying for? When even the company can't unravel the lies. The most honest truth was the one that one Orange representative gave us, "If we gave you what Gal promised, the company would lose money." But Gal was their representative, set on making the deal, giving us the SIM cards and getting his commission. Gal has long since been removed from the picture - if only we were so lucky.

This thing with Orange is killing my husband, leaves my daughter without a convenient way to contact her mother, leaves a soldier without a phone and a way to contact his family, his fiancĂ©e, his commanding officer. This thing with Orange leave two elderly people without communication for the next few hours. This thing with Orange is an outrage.

10 comments:

ProphetJoe said...

I feel great sympathy for you, Paula. Years ago, my wife and I had a provider called Nextel (before they were purchased by Sprint). Nextel was famous for the "push to talk" feature which was, essentially, a 2 way radio feature that many tradesmen used on work sites. The technology was excellent, but the company's customer service and billing was painfully bad! We were over-billed, which we paid in order to maintain our service. It dragged on until our contracts were up and we switched providers. I wrote several letters to their home office demanding, and documenting, our refund only to be ignored. Six months AFTER we had left their service, they sent us to collections claiming we hadn't paid all of our bills. I had my attorney send the collection agency a letter with our documentation and no only did they apologize for the situation, but they contacted Nextel on our behalf and Nextel finally issued a refund (although it took 2 more months for the check to come).

Cellular companies are typically bad (IMHO). They come up with plans and contracts which force consumers into long term obligations and keeping phones way too long. Why don't they try great customer service, low prices and being cutting edge on the technology instead??

Good luck to you, Paula. I hope this is resolved ASAP!

PJ

jan said...

Paula, I too sympathize with your situation....is there any way to go in person and meet ONLY with a top manager or supervisor? This should not be eating at you like this, it is ruining the quality of your life by the sound of it. Gather your family, and go to the headquarters. Demand to see someone other than a flunkie, and bring all of your paperwork. You could even contact a TV station, surely they don't want the negative publicity. I wish you luck. Jan

A Soldier's Mother said...

Thanks for your support, ProphetJoe - always, always appreciated.

Jan - my husband and Elie were told that if they wanted an explanation of the bills, they could go to the Service Center in Givat Shaul, in Jerusalem. They went there - and as we have heard many times over the last few months, they were told the account is too complicated for them to understand and we have to deal with the Jerusalem Business department (the ones who sent us to the Service Center). My husband insisted on speaking to a manager - the manager told him that if he and Elie didn't leave, they would call the police. My husband said he was told to come to the Service Center. He took time off work to do this - and now he wanted service.

The manager called the police. The police came, listened to my husband and agreed we should be suing Orange and/or filing criminal charges for all sorts of fraud. Orange reps told us the fraud department was looking at our account and they were very aware that we had been cheated. They even expressed sympathy to us and to others who called on our behalf...at the individual level. At the corporate level - they refuse to even allow us incoming phone calls while we struggle to do their work and figure out the accounting.

You are right that this has taken a toll on our family, as I wrote about here. The good news is that we have finally decided this account is too big for us and have handed it over to an agency that we believe can help us resolve our cellular agony with Orange. Thanks for your concern...I really hope we are nearing the end of this.

Anonymous said...

It makes me very sad to live in a world where a mother thinks she is suffering because she has to go into her children's bedrooms to wake them in the morning instead of calling them on their phones. It makes me even sadder to live in a world where a child fearfully comes home after school to an empty house and both she and her absent mother think that a phone will somehow keep her safe. And don't even get me started on a grown man who cannot be trusted to look at a watch and be where he is supposed to be on time. Why have we let technology make us so mixed up in our priorities and responsibilities and the way we live our lives? Look at what you've done to yourselves. This is nuts.

jan said...

That was a very wise decision to hand this over to an agency....now you should get some much needed closure. Our daughter had a similar problem with a water company here in Texas, and actually did contact a newspaper about it. Big companies hate negative media attention...but Orange surely deserves to be exposed for the fraud and aggravation it has caused you and your family. GOOD LUCK!

A Soldier's Mother said...

What is it with those Anonymouses? Ok, Anonymous # 379:

1. I suffer from this phone company's harassment, inflated bills, fraud, mishandling of my account and cutting my business lines without notice. I do not suffer because I have to go into my kids' bedrooms to wake them.

2. Because we live in Israel - my children are free and don't come home in fear. My youngest would prefer not to be home alone and so she rarely, if ever, is. She doesn't come home to an empty house. Her father is often there; her older brother is often there; and I am sometimes there. When I am not - she calls me because we have, thankfully, a great relationship and she loves to talk and I love to listen. On those days when she can't wait two hours until I get home, she calls me and tells me about her day.

My two older sons are very responsible and get themselves where they have to be, when they have to be there. When they are coming with me in the a.m. to catch a ride with me, I call them. Sometimes, I just call them to say I love them. Technology is not the great evil - I spend my days documenting it. The great evil is what we allow technology to do. If it brings us together, allows communication where there might not have been, technology is great. Because of today's technology - hundreds of people, perhaps thousands, read about an Israeli soldier and realize he is, above all else, a son, a person, a human being. Technology allows me to meet so many of you, let you into my life and let me into yours. I have met so many people because of technology and yeah, it lets me get out of my house faster in the a.m. Sheesh.

mamma-mia said...

Paula,
You know I sympathize with your situation and agree with you.

Yes we rely on cell phone service these days, all of us do, and so do you MR Anonymous # 379...

Unfortunately, to me it sounds no different then the stupid run-around and passing the buck that J is receiving with his med treatment and army issues...

I DO FEEL YOUR PAIN...
S

A Soldier's Mother said...

Hi Mamma-Mia - I know - it is one of the less appealing sides of dealing with large bureaucracies and the people who work in or for them. Our biggest complaint is the lies an corruption (and yeah, that spreads too far too).

Pls send J. our love from here!

Anonymous said...

Paula,

Excuse my srtaying anonymous, but I have done business with you before, and hope to do business with you again, and don't want to turn this personal.

You have had a blog dedicated to complaining about Orange for months. You are obviously unhappy with their service. Why can't you just take this as an opportunity to say "good riddance" and move to pelephone, or mirs, or whatever other comapny you think you might have more success with? You wanted out: you got out.

Even when they do what you want, you have to complain?

A Soldier's Mother said...

Hey Business Colleague Anonymous,

Yes, we are miserable with Orange's so-called service (thus the name of the blog - Cellular Agony). We can't leave Orange easily because we have a 3 year contract and it was signed before the new laws in Israel went into effect (this month). When we left Cellcom, with 16 lines, we owed them 33,000 NIS - which Orange agreed to pay in full. Of course, they haven't. Can you imagine what we would owe Orange for the 66 lines, or at least the remaining 49? We haven't gotten out yet - though we want out desperately. We sent them a letter a few days ago - from ourselves and from a lawyer telling them that if they don't activate our lines (and give us the reports we need to prove how much they owe US), we would minimize further damage by leaving them and pulling our lines with them. So far - more than 96 hours later, they have ignored these letters too.

We have scoped out Pelephone already and are talking to Cellcom. We have to do this correctly so as not to be hit by even more problems.

In the meantime, we are fighting simply to get records from Orange, and they won't even give that!

I hope to keep the Orange problems on the Cellular Agony blog and return this blog to what it was meant to be...and hope to do business with you in the future as well!

Paula

Copyright Statement

Everything on this site is protected and copyrighted according to Israeli and international laws. Violators WILL be prosecuted.

For permission to use pictures or text from this site, please write to: info@paulasays.com.