Monday, October 11, 2010

Orange PAYG Fail

So, Caroline wanted to get an iPhone 4 to run the Hipstamatic App.

I did a bit of research and it seemed like the best way to get an iPhone 4 without being tied into a contract is to sign up for the Orange PAYG package, especially as it comes with 250MB/month free data usage for the first 12 months as standard.

What follows is the ongoing saga of our attempts to get Orange to actually provide the service they claim to offer "as standard".

Day 1 (Thursday, 23rd September 2010)

We walked over to the Orange Shop at Clifton Down Shopping Centre to pick up an iPhone 4 on a PAYG tariff (I had called the previous day to check that they actually had them in stock) and bought £10 of credit for it.

By buying the phone from the Orange Shop I thought it would all be set up to work properly at the shop and we wouldn't have any problems getting going. Boy, was I wrong about that.

Orange offer several animal based tariffs, but we wanted to go for Raccoon as that is the easiest to understand (12p/min calls, 12p/text). The assistant told us that once the phone was charged we should dial 343 to select the package.

We got an SMS message on the phone saying that "you can start using it [the phone] straight away".

OK, I tried calling 343 from the phone several times during the day, and always got an automated voice response system telling me that the request couldn't be processed due to an error in the system.

Day 2 (Friday, 24th September 2010)

I called 343 and managed to talk to a human being and get the phone set up to use the Raccoon tariff. I mentioned that I was concerned that the free data package had not been activated and they said they would attach a note to the account, but it didn't sound very convincing.

Day 4 (Sunday, 26th September 2010)

Caroline got an SMS message saying that there was only 19p credit left on the phone - despite the fact we've made no chargeable calls/texts on the phone.

OK. I'll take it back to the shop and they can sort it out. I checked on the Orange Web Site and it said that the Clifton Down Shop was open on Sunday from 11am - 4pm. However after I walked over I discovered that this information was incorrect, and the shop was not open on a Sunday.

So I got back home and tried to call Orange. However it seems that you can't call Orange Customer Services if you have no credit on your phone (they want to charge you 25p for the privilege), even if the reason there is no credit on the phone is because Orange themselves have stolen it.

I sent an email to Orange, via their web site, detailing the problems we had had so far and requested them to get them sorted out.

Day 6 (Tuesday, 28th September 2010)

Having not heard anything back from Orange, I walked over to the Orange Shop at Clifton Down Shopping Centre, to see if they could get the account sorted out.

A very helpful guy was on the phone for about 30 minutes, and said the data package was enabled and the £10 credit would be refunded in 24-48 hours.

Day 7 (Wednesday, 29th September 2010)

There was no sign of the missing credit. Someone from Orange rang back (apparently in response to the message I had sent via the web site on Sunday). They promised they would double check that the problems had been resolved and would sent me an email confirming the following day.

Day 8 (Thursday, 30th September 2010)

No sign of the missing credit. No email from Orange.

Day 14 (Wednesday, 6th October 2010)

There has been no indication that Orange have done anything. The missing credit has not shown up, and we are unable to use the phone on the Internet except via the Wi-Fi at home.

I composed another email to Orange and submitted it via their website. However this time I got a message saying "Oops, an error occurred. Try again later". A few hours later I was able to successfully submit the message.

Day 16 (Friday, 8th October 2010)

I got an email back from Orange saying they were unable to deal with the problem via email and that Caroline should call Orange Customer Services (even though you cannot do this if there is no credit showing on the phone).

While I was out walking the dog and quietly fuming about the inability of Orange to provide the standard service they have offered, a representative of Orange phoned Caroline, took the IMEI number of the phone and promised to have everything sorted out in 24 hours.

Day 17 (Saturday, 9th October 2010)

24 hours later - nothing seems to have changed.

Day 19 (Monday, 11th October 2010)

Another trip to the Orange Shop at Clifton Down Shopping Centre. A very helpful assistant listened to my woes and then spent a considerable amount of time (around 40 minutes) on the phone trying to sort it all out. He genuinely seemed to do everything he could to help, but whether he will have any luck with the people on the other end of the phone is yet to be seen - I left again with a promise that it should all be sorted out in 24 hours.

Day 20 (Tuesday, 12th October 2010)

Almost 24 hours later, and nothing seems to have happened, so it's back to the Orange Shop at Clifton Down Shopping Centre. This time they said there were going "bypass Customer Services". Almost immediately I got an SMS through saying there were new settings for the phone, followed shortly by another with the password for the 12 months BT OpenZone access (that also comes "as standard" with the iPhone package). I was also told a request had been made to re-apply the missing credit.

Day 21 (Wednesday, 13th October 2010)

At first, nothing else seemed to have happened, but at 10:00am an SMS came through saying the 12 months data access (250MB/month) had been activated.

At 3:00pm there was another SMS saying the 250MB data allowance for this month had been activated. (I'm not really sure if that is different from the last message, but I'm just pleased that something seems to be happening).

Shortly afterwards the missing £10 of credit showed up on the phone, so the phone can finally be used with all the services it comes with "as standard" after only 3 weeks of hassling Orange. Phew!