How do Orange suck? Let me count the ways…
Way back when I first returned to Oxford and had no UK addresses to my name to prove that I wasn’t some fly-by-night, I got a cell phone by virtue of my good friend S adding me to her account. I paid hard cash money for a new, 32gb iPhone 4 and signed up for a 2-year contract. The staff in the Orange shop said breezily, ‘Oh, loads of people do it, and in three months’ time you just put the account in your own name and it’ll be fine.’
That was 26 months, 4? 5? store visits and innumerable conversations with the people laughingly known as ‘Orange Customer Service’ ago. There is a reason they are not UK based, and that is because no one with the level of rage they can generate would be allowed on a ‘plane en route to wreak severe physical havoc on their persons.
From my non-exhaustive survey, the idea of a store or other service providing what the customer actually wants kicked off with Zola’s Au Bonheur des Dames. That’s roughly 100 years of at least basic understanding of customer service, which I’m sure has become increasingly sophisticated and well documented over the years. In response to which, Orange have apparently taken the unusual, but straightforward approach: ‘It’s all bollocks, innit?’
To be fair, some of the employees in the Oxford Orange store have done their damnedest to be helpful. The problem lies with the fact that when they call Customer Service, they get the same useless muppets as anyone else. As the account holder, my friend S is always the one lumbered with the explanations, and she is both intelligent and articulate. Not so her interlocutors, who combine an inability to comprehend plain English with an absolutely breathtaking lack of knowledge about Orange services and accounts. In 23 months of trying, we have managed to get me set up as the person who actually pays for my phone. But the account is still in S’s name, so she has to inaugurate any changes, such as when I’m traveling and don’t want to be gouged for data costs. It’s tedious for both of us. I’ve complained via the website, but guess what? Same Customer Service department, same devastating incompetence.
Most recently, Orange have been calling me to offer me an upgrade. This is hilarious, even more so when the person calling then blatantly lies to me by telling me that they’ll sort out the existing situation so that I might consider upgrading. The upgrade team is just a bunch of cold callers, they don’t have access to account information and they are powerless.
Obviously, the next step is to bin Orange, although I could be in my dotage by the time they figure that one out. And part of me wonders: what basic part of their job will they fail to do next? It’s like watching an horrendous accident in slow motion, appallingly fascinating and bound to end in wreckage.