Orange, you have got to be joking!

Last month I went back to Orange from Free. New phone, Livebox, TV, the top domestic package in fact. For some reason the order failed to go through due to an error on the part of the shop assistant. I called Orange and they said I had to go back to the shop as they couldn’t do anything about it on the phone, and when I get there to call them back, whatever. I go to the shop tell the guy the order hasn’t worked, he say yes it has etc etc. After some to and fro he must decide that I have better things to to than make crap up to waste his time and believes me. I get on the phone back to Orange customer services as requested. I wait 20 minutes in a queue for the call to be answered, different guy, no idea what you’re talking about. 5 minutes later he decides I may have a point and agrees to be put on the phone with the shop guy. Some progress at last.

Shop guy and phone guy argue it out for another 20 minutes and eventually I'm told that my presence is no longer required and I can go. No 'sorry for wasting your time' of course.

Some days later (not the three days I was told but whatever) the internet comes on, good. Mobile stops working, go back to shop to get told that I have obviously messed with some setting so it's my fault, eventually guy from previously sees me and realises I won't stand for much more of this, comes over and fixes it.

I leave the shop and actually have all of the services that I am paying for working at the same time. Good.

Except there is no signal in the house, that's ok, there never was. I know I can get a gizmo from Orange which will improve matters, it's called a Femtocell. That's ok too, I need another mobile anyway so I'll arrange that when I go to the Orange shop again.

Arrive at Orange shop, sign in, told it will be at least 20 minutes. Go to buy a sandwich eat it and I'm back at the shop in ten. Wait a further 20 minutes (I now have a wheelchair having had a foot operation since the beginning of the story so at least I'm seated) and having watched a number of people get served in front of me I ask why am I not being served despite the fact that you can see me sitting here waiting? That is because we called you and you weren't here. Breathe.

Finally I'm getting served, as I am an existing customer I think this will be a doddle, they have all of my details already...

No, it doesn't work like that, we even want a copy of your bank details (I can see the last one I sent them ON THE SCREEN!). That one won't do apparently. They say can you get your bank to fax one? Yes I say 'what is your fax number' and call the bank, they agree and I hang up. She then tells me that their fax machine doesn't work and I have to call the bank again and get them to email it. She's still not sure that will work as they are having email problems today! Thankfully it does. We have now been in the shop for 90 minutes! We're in no particular hurry today so that's ok too, she fills out all the rest of the stuff online and submits the file. Computer says no... As I have recently taken out a new contract with them I am deemed to be a bloody brilliant customer and they want to offer me a free bottle of champagne for my loyalty potential criminal. I signed a contract with them last month you see, two contracts in as many months? Clearly there is a master criminal mind at work.

No worries, that's ok she says, we can continue, there is a way around this (2 hours in). All we have to do is fill out all of the paperwork again, but this time by hand, with a pen. I ask if they need my grandparents DNA too.

Another 20 minutes on and it looks like we may leave the store with our liberty intact and a phone to boot, so I go for the hat trick. Bearing in mind that I'm now paying way over a hundred euros a month for a couple of phones and a splash of internet etc. they still won't work in the house. Orange don't see that as a fault of theirs though so instead of giving you the thing that will make the service that your'e paying through the nose for actually work, they're going to charge you for it. It's 79 euros she says, I give her my best 'I am going to place your terminal somewhere the sun don't shine' look. She appreciates that visual cue and disappears for a conflab. Wait! As you are an existing customer you are entitled to the gadget that makes the expensive service that you've already paid for work for the bargain bend over and insert price of just 40 euros!

I take her hand off at this sterling news, yes give it to me and let me get out of here. There are punters in the shop who have visibly aged since our arrival.

Can't do that sir, you have to call customer services on 3970. Whatever. Credit where it is due, the assistant is so appalled at their lack of service by the end of this 3 hour debacle that she throws a 30 euro headset in to our bag on the way out of the door! We all leave on good terms due in equal part to the early sandwich, the mobile wheels and the free headset and perhaps a little mutual incredulity.

I've just called 3970 and asked for the 40 euro Femtocell. Tut tut, it's 79 euros sir. Now I need another new phone to replace the one I just threw at the wall.

you wouldn’t grumble here Ley, there’s too much wifi!

use the Consumer laws - or write to their Head Office?

there was a discussion 3/4 weeks back, I think Doreen started it and a few people gave web addresses of Consumer protection associations.

I must say, after years of hassle with Orange, at the moment it seems to be working. OK, I don't have a fantastic broadband speed (around 3.5MB at best) but for €43 per month I have broadband, free calls to over 100 countries for landlines & mobiles from an IP phoneline (it does go down in a storm from time to time). So for the moment I'm quite happy. I can't believe it after an awful 15 years with them. I just called them and said "I wanted the service ended." They said "What do we have to do to make you stay with us?" So I told them what I wanted. And I more or less got it!!! And a new Livebox (black) which seems to work properly. I do hope I am not tempting providence here :-/

If only I could speed up the net :-(

The customer service I received was as good as back in the UK.

Good luck everyone. I DO commiserate.

..but under NO CIRCUMSTANCES to SFR, they are equally bad.

Thanks for a good read. I commiserate.

Orange have had me too...

Mind if I use your story as an example of Oranges incompetence in my fight with them over services they are charging me for that I never used? €2000 + of charges!

In fact I would be more than delighted if others had Orange incompetence stories to share with me so I can record them to use in my interchange with them!

Please let me know if you have a story, if you give me permission to use it, and if I can use your name or not. Cheers

Ah, so it isn't just me. It is grammatically incorrect to place "Orange" and "service clients" in the same sentence. Last week, our Livebox service was interrupted 4 times for periods between 5 and 24 hours. On 3970 they ask [or at least, a robot does], amongst other things, whether I'd like a text sending to my mobile when we're back online. Yes, I say. Does it ever happen? Does it b***cks.

Has anyone any idea how to lodge an official complaint with Orange? And would it work, anyway?

Hello James,

I was with France Telecom/Orange for over 25 years, started with dialup, moved forward as technology progressed, etc. had a professional contract with them for my business..."rapid" restoration of services etc. etc. BUT it cost, too much.

Then I cancelled my contract and moved to OVH Telecom ( . NO LINE RENTAL as such, just 24.99 HT per month for and unbridled internet connection, two fixed phone lines with free calls to 40 odd countries, various services attached to the phone line(s) including email notification of any voice messages with an attached audio file. They took care of number transfer from Orange to OVH, all very simple. For my mobile service, I have two phones - one is the Lelingo hotline destined to RECEIVE calls only, I opted for Bouygues. 2.99 per month and 19.99 month which includes free calls many countries AND some mobiles...the USA for instance where I can call my stepson in LA, on his mobile, FREE talk for 1 hour at a time.

Take a look. I really recommend OVH, and Bouygues.

Hope all is well with you and Catherine.

Best, Tim

I realise this is an old post, but ongoing as we all still suffer from the idiosyncrasies of telco providers here.

On another expat site this week was an enquiry about the best package to get and someone posted this reply:

Hi and welcome to the Riviera. I have used NUMERICABLE for years , personally and really like their service in their boutiques and on the phone. Excellent service. Boutiques are reassuring. They have TV, FREE INTERNATIONAL CALLING AND WIFI or FIBRE OPTIC INTERNET SERVICE. Their packages are great. Many shows with English language capability.

You still have to acquire a mobile phone from somewhere, but it seems to be quite an interesting package?

And on the subject of mobiles, why can't these companies offer a decent upgrade system? It appears to cost more to upgrade than to start anew...

I purchased the 'Nikrans MA-450GW' from

They do several different models depending the size of your property etc. I called them and they were very helpfull indead making sure I selected the correct one.

Delivery took about a week which was also very good.

Can you post a link to said device please Terry?

Anyone who does not want all the fun that James has had with Orange trying to get the Femtocell, there are other options. I purchased a GSM amplifier where you put a small aerial on the roof or where you can get 'some' signal and the amplifier inside. We have a very old thick stone house (say house... more like piles of stone lumped together to make rooms!) and this amplifier has made it possible to use any mobile (not only Orange) throughout the property. In addition, IF the landline/internet goes down due to a fault on the line - which never happens in France :0) then we still have phone and 3G coverage.

If anyone wants to know where I got mine from, please drop me a note..... and no, I do not work for them or get commission - just a great phone signal in my property !

We had a complete nightmare with Orange,Your experience is almost the same as ours. Bit of advice change company asap!!

I have Orange fibre-optic internet in my flat and it works like a dream, along with 4G on the Iphone.

I would echo though, that their customer service is about as useful as a chocolate fireguard.

The worst is when you go into the shop - they are just so bloomin' slow!

Or more like 'lack of service'.

Hey babe, where you been all my life?
I've been waiting for some big, handsome hunk to come along and explain dégroupage to me!

Do you find that when you get chatting to people at parties, they suddenly find an urgent reason to go and talk to someone else? ;-)

Our last Orange bill was 37,44 euros for internet, tele, livebox rental & all phone calls. A relative bargain, I'd say, considering how much time my missus spends on overseas phone calls!

I suspect it is something to do with dégroupage.
Dégroupage is one of those profound mysteries, like Facebook's terms and conditions, that is beyond the understanding of mere mortals, contemplation of which can only lead to madness and despair.
Let's not go there.........