Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Wanadoo Woe

Here is a typical tale of France Telecom woe.

In April, I sign up for an internet phone contract with Orange. Unfortunately, none of the three phones I have work with the Live Box, and as my life was quite busy at that time, I forget about the problem.

In May, I sign up for an unlimited telephone contract with France Telecom, so with my land line, practically all my calls are free. Lovely! It works, I'm happy.

Last week, I realise that I'm rather over-subscribed to phone contracts, and decide to end the internet phone contract as it doesn't work anyway. On Saturday morning, thus, I ring Orange who tell me to ring back later as the computers are down (they always seem to be down when I ring. What is it with them?). I thus ring back around 1pm and explain that I want to cancel the internet phone contract part of my Live Box contract.

Ooooh, can't do that, I'm signed in for a full twelve months. Oh, I didn't know? Really? Well, okay, that detail of the contract I'd forgotten as it was back in April and frankly it's not the sort of information I retain. Anyway, it doesn't work so I'd like to cancel it. It can only be canceled if there is a technical problem, otherwise I'm locked into another 7 months. Why didn't I report the problem earlier? Frankly I didn't have 5 hours to waste... at 34cts a minute.

So I call the technical department (2nd call of the day). I have a fruitless time with the technician and get cut off. I call back (3rd call of the day). The girl starts going through her routine and promises that if we get cut off she'll call me back. During her routine, she fiddles with something and my internet connection is cut, and won't reconnect. Naturally we get cut off. She doesn't ring back.

I have no internet, no technician, and no prospect of getting anywhere unless I ring back, at 34cts a minute for a fourth time. I am now in a temper. It's over two hours later and I'm wasting my Saturday afternoon which I'd scheduled for book writing.

I ring back and get a different guy. I explain the problem. He is not perturbed by my plight - the other technician who didn't ring back, my lost connection or my phone line. We sort out the physical connections of the Live Box (my cable was in Yellow and it should have been in Red), we reconfigure the numbers and hey presto it all works.

It's now 4pm and I've spent 3 hours at 34 cts a minute. Not only that, I can't cancel my phone contract and I'll have to buy a new phone if I want to use the internet phone capability (which I'm not bothered about). I'll have spent 150Eur on nothing.

What really pisses me off is that NG had almost exactly the same situation a couple of months ago. She rings Wanadoo about a problem. Wanadoo don't fix it, and destroy her internet connection while they are fiddling. They don't call back when the phone is cut and she ends up having to ring back at 34cts a minute.

Do you detect a pattern of fleecing customers here? Yes, I do too. You can be sure that I'll be writing to the director of Orange to tell him exactly what I think of his technicians and their wiley ruses to keep us on the phone and paying, and also NOT ringing back which they are supposed to do.

Phone companies are all the same. UK, France, it makes no difference. They are a band of thieves and robbers who think they have us over a barrel and treat us with contempt. I cannot advise you to avoid Wanadoo/Orange because Cegetel, Free etc. are exactly the same if not worse.

Nous sommes des couillons, des vaches à lait, des pauvres cons. We depend totally upon them, and they have us totally by the short and curlies. Beware the power of the phone companies. It can only end in tears...


  1. I had the same kind of hassle with Wanadoo, so gave them notice I would be deserting to a different ISP.

    New ISP then flicked a switch that cut off the Wanadoo connection but kept me waiting 10 days for the new modem. Result: no broadband connection for 10 days, and forced to use metered narrow band for the duration. Compensation was offered when I bent ears, but never arrived.

    We then got led a merry chase with new ISP, with frequent cut-offs requiring those premium rate phone calls.

    When the penny dropped (or rather the tens of euros) I began bombarding the parent organization in the US, claiming that the French end was deliberately milking me for those helpline calls.

    Initially they said it was out their hands, but miraculously the hassle suddenly stopped, and we've had virtually uninterruped service the last 2 or 3 years !

    You should put in a claim for refund of at least part of your phone bill, Sarah. You shouldn't have to run up a bill of that size simply to sort something that was largely admin.

  2. I definitely will, Colin!

  3. One of these days we'll all just have one iphone type machine, that allows us to blog, phone, watch tv and more (my father sent me a good video on the topic the other day). That way, we will be able to stop hassling with these bureaucratic behemoths bereft of customer service. Of course, the LUCKY ONE that has all those services bundled better be good! And, agree with colin, always worth writing. Don't forget to spice it up. Understatement and reserve not needed here!

  4. I'm getting quite good at writing to recalcitrant phone companies. I had to write a stinging letter of complaint for my parents to Utility Warehouse who slammed a back line charge of £180 without warning. Their error, their fault but they stuck to their guns and didn't give any sort of commercial gesture even though UW had made a profit of £26m in the first quarter. My folks switched to BT as a result and UW got very upset. doh...

    I wrote to the PDG and asked if he knew the ground roots were fleecing his customers. hehe.

  5. My bouts with Wanadoo have been Ubuesque for years! This time after exchanges of lettres recommandées, warning of getting in touch with 50 millions de Consommateurs to get free legal help to bounce on them, and so on and so (over 80 euros telephone calls to get help....which I did not get, and from one little problem it turned into an ENORMOUS problem with the whole lot bunked - and they just hung up upon me instead of calling back), they finally send me a smarmy letter....and offered me one month's abonnement free....the dastardly meanies! Frustrating

    However, in black and white they did amit that it was all their fault....which may come in handy later!!!!

  6. Oooohhh....this made my blood boil! I had so much trouble with phone/internet service when we first arrived in France last time. But to the credit of our company they did reimburse an erroneous charge due to a mistake by their technician...after I wrote a letter in very mediocre French.

    I hate that stuff! Still, it doesn't always work in the USA either...I just had a run in with a cell phone company yesterday that they suggested I "wait and see" if resolves in 24 hours. Hrumph!

    Good luck.

    Meilleurs voeux!!

  7. When I lived in France I was with Wanadoo/now Orange. Most of the stuff they provided at the time was not Mac friendly and I spent my time in the local Telecom shop taking stuff back, and stamping my foot in the endless queues that were permanently trailing into the street. I gave up phoning the technical support as I think they only had one Mac computer in their building and no-one seemed to know how to use it. In desperation I eventually rang a private company, who are nationwide and of course whose name escapes me now, and a great guy came out and got everything sorted out for me using a very roundabout way so the Mac would work with the totally useless Livebox. They charged €100/hour which seems expensive, but in the long run is cheaper and more efficient than phoning the un-help line with no result.

  8. Everyone has a story to tell... No wonder the British providers made a whopping £35m from their 'help' lines.


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