Friday, 16 March 2007

Every Orange cloud has... another Orange cloud attached to it.

Checked my bank account today to see if the Orange refund promised on the 16th February had materialised and was disappointed but not surprised to find it conspicuous by it's absence.

I contacted Orange billing support and spoke to a friendly lady named Catherine but, sadly, before she could conclude the call we were disconnected. Before the disconnection she revealed that the notes contained no record of the promised £9.99 refund and my account also did not show this refund. The £3.99 refund for the second outage was recorded in the notes but had not been applied to my account. The upshot of this was I was not going to get either refund. We were disconnected while I was on hold while Catherine went to consult her Team Leader.

After the disconnection, I called right back and got a guy called Bain (pronounced Ba-in). I explained to him the call I had just made and he confirmed for himself what Catherine had stated earlier. When he consulted his Team Leader he came back with the news that they would not be refunding me £9.99 as promised for the first outage but £3.74. He has stated that the combined refund (of just under £8) has now been applied to my account and is not just languishing in my notes. This refund should be part of my April 16th bill meaning that I will not be able to confirm the refund in my bank account until that Direct Debit goes through. As an example of how long that takes, an Orange Direct Debit was collected on March 2nd, over two weeks after the billing date. Therefore, I will not be able to see this refund in my bank account until the beginning of May.

There was no apology for not processing my refund. Bain refused to give me the name of the person I talked to on the 16th February (I wish I'd made a note of that aswell, now) mis-citing the Data Protection Act. There was no goodwill gesture toward the phone calls I had to make today which were caused not by technical gremlins but by someone's incompetence or negligence.

The real quality of a company is when things go wrong. Orange hasn't been dreadful but they haven't been good. Both outages were fixed within a week which, by all accounts, is positively gazelle-like for an ISP. The outage was fixed by capping my line speed to a lower rate than before I 'upgraded' my account (I was very happy at 2Mb speed, now I am at 1Mb speed). The promised refunds were not applied immediately and required further phone calls from me to get them.

My contract with Orange lasts until November this year but the ISP market is such ("up to 8Mb connection", they might as well say up to eleventy mcbillion squeegy-bytes) that switching may be a case of out of the frying pan...

Here endeth the moan.

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