Since we now have access to an excellent Fibre WiFi service throughout the entire apartment, and even out on the terrace, you might imagine that everything was tickety boo. Sadly, that’s not the case. We’re still suffering from one small problem, the billing. Specifically the billing of a once-dormant line that was accidentally activated by an over enthusiastic assistant at our local Orange shop. That’s right, almost a year after the event, we’re still trying to get Orange to correct an error that one of their staff made which is turning into my very own Groundhog Day hell.
You may have read that late last year the former CEO and other executives of France’s Orange internet provider and telecoms firm were found guilty of a string of employee suicides at the company. The trial marked the first time that a big company had been tried on a charge of “collective moral harassment” – France is one of only a few countries in the world where an institution or a company can be prosecuted for such an offense. No mention was made of whether the CEO and other executives had been held responsible for the suicides of any of their customers!
I recently received a very politely worded reminder from the Head of Customer Services at Orange enquiring whether I had overlooked payment of an outstanding invoice. Now, I appreciate that such correspondence is automatically generated. No, I had not simply forgotten to pay the invoice. I have no intention of paying it. Let me explain why.
In April of last year, we switched over from Broadband to Fibre. Unbeknown to us, our assistant at Orange in Cap 3000 reanimated our old facsimile number, cancelled more than 10 years ago. We most certainly did not ask him to do this.
The first we knew of this error was when we received an invoice in the mail – all our invoices are received via email – in early October of last year for the period April – October. I firstly approached the same assistant at Orange Cap 3000 who advised me that there was nothing he could do and that I should write to Customer Services. At this point, I did not know that it was he who had made the mistake. I duly wrote and received a reply advising I should ring their Customer Services Help Desk, a number which can only be rung from inside France.
Due to our respective travel commitments outside of France, I rang them at the first opportunity and finally spoke to one of their call centre staff. This was after spending some time going through the usual rigmarole of pressing various buttons and responding to certain automated questions. This process can take as little as 10 minutes but woe betide if you give the wrong response. It’s a case of “Do not Pass Go, Do Not Collect €200 and Go Straight Back to the Start.”
At this point, I did not know why the number had been reanimated so, as a precaution, I paid the invoice having been advised that if it was an error I would receive a refund. I wanted to check with the team at Parnasse (the part of Orange that had fitted our Fibre service) to check that they had not used the line in some way to facilitate our access to Fibre.
We continued to receive invoices and meanwhile, Parnasse confirmed that they had not used or reanimated the line in any way. In November, I once again contacted Customer Services. The person I eventually spoke with confirmed that the line had not been used at all and that it had been .reanimated by the chap at Orange Cap 3000. He was immediately struck off my Xmas card list. The line would be cancelled forthwith and a telephonic rendez vous organised whereby someone from Customer Refunds would call me on a given day and time to organise a refund and the cancellation of the outstanding invoices. No one, but no one from Orange telephoned us!
On receipt of January’s invoice, I rang again and spoke to yet another helpful call centre operator and she confirmed that the line (and invoicing) had now been cancelled. Once again, a date was established whereby Customer Refunds would telephone me. Once again, no one from Orange contacted us.
You can therefore perhaps appreciate my frustration when we received yet another invoice swiftly followed by the reminder from the Head of Customer Relations to which I have responded in some detail. I am hoping (possibly in vain) that my letter explaining the situation will finally resolve this long-standing issue which stems from an error on the part of one of Orange’s own employees. I am not holding my breath – watch this space!