TV service to use for gites, can't block purchases on Orange

Hi All,

We have Orange Liveboxes for our landline, wifi and television for gites clients only.

Unfortunately, with Orange you can only restrict access to adult content and put parental controls on the TV. All other services such as various paying sports, special interest, family, foreign channels as well as films can be purchased without needing any of the codes that are supposed to protect us. Ergo, anyone with kids over the age of one, for example, who can touch the TV controller, can make purchases wihout limit.

Generally clients are very respectful but occasionally people abuse this and purchase TV channels during their stay. They generally show up as only being €1 for the first month or so, so the people obviously don’t think that’s its very costly for us and never mention their purchase. However, when we get an email to say that a purchase has been made, we go straight to the ‘cancellation’ button to stop it from costing any more. However, recently, the cost for cancelling these non-authorised purchases has been exceeding the cost of the initial purchase. Last one at €1/month cost us €6 when the bill came in just the following week. Orange’s explanation: if you want to cancel it, you no longer benefit from the original ‘special price’.

Having read Orange and 60 Million Consommateurs forums, this has been an ongoing issue for years with Orange and many have moved to other internet and TV providers because of it.

As a move to another provider would cause a huge headache with changes of email addresses, marketing maeterials etc. although I am loath to continue paying Orange exorbitant monthly amounts for their terrible service (I won’t go into the wasted hours spent on their “Customer services”!!), does anyone have alternative suggestions for the best way to block / impede visitors, particularly gites customers, from buying paying services on the TV?

If I were to decide to move to another provider, who do you suggest for “not too terrible service” and do you have a provider who requires a code every time to make these kinds of purchases?

In the meantime, we are going to reinforce our signage politely asking people not to do so, reiterate this verbally upon arrival and eventually state that a €10 flat fee will be charged for all infractions to cover cancellation costs.

Thanks in advance for your thoughts and/or expériences!

Surely in this day and age your guests arrive with their own gadgets for using the internet, do you really have to provide a TV for them?

Do you ask for a damage deposit? You could include that it would cover cancellation fees.

We do have a damage deposit in our contract that should be paid on arrival, but rarely bother these days as we have had so little trouble. The exception is when people have dogs we ask for a 50€ cheque, or cash, which we hand straight back on departure if all is in order and no dog s*** in the garden. You could do something similar and ask if people plan to use the TV and if so ask for an extra deposit?

That’s probably the best way assuming that you wish your clients to be able to use the Orange TV service, if Orange allow purchases with no authentication/authorisation then I suspect it will be impossible to block without preventing the whole thing from working.

Alternatively if you have decent TV reception, take the TV decoder out of the gite.

I’m surprised that it is impossible to set a code for purchases though. Pretty poor showing if that is the case.

Hi Jane, we have a damage deposit held for Airbnb guests as it is simple to implement via their platform and charge to if required - however, I would have to check their policy as to using this for charging ‘extra services’.

We don’t do the same on Booking.com or for direct bookings because deposit actually has to be collected and returned by Paypal, bank virement or similar and with 650 guests last year (predicting more this year), it becomes impossible in time management and accounting terms.

We also have had generally very little trouble beyond the odd broken glass and find that damage déposits are very off-putting to many modern-day guests. Particularly our one-nighters, who would have to stump up as much as the room cost them again for the deposit to be worthwhile.

Hi there, I’m not sure I understand what you are proposing technically here? The TV has to be connected to the box to work and they can just make the purchases via the remote control anyway, no?

Does the property have a TV aerial?

We used to be guardians for a house rental.
The owners (UK resident) did not provide a TV for guests on the basis that their annual sojourn would benefit greatly from a TV free environment leaving them time to do all that is relaxing and stress free.
We didn’t have a single complaint - even from families with multiple kids.

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I think that’s down to different profiles, we are very much a short-stay destination (mariages, family event overspill, workers/business stopovers, people doing local courses…) and one-nighters particularly expect all that you would find in a hotel room plus home comforts. The mariage attendees are typrically the only clients who don’t use anything except the iron, beds, coffee machine and shower (and often, not even the shower… for another thread!)

Yes, one that dates from the 1950s I think - wouldn’t that be obsolete these days?

Great, that’s how it should be !
I am amazed at the number of people who cannot manage a week or two without a television whilst on holiday.
If kids are along then spend some precious time with them discovering what’s around, play with them, read to them but don’t just ‘plonk’ them down in front of a TV!

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This is probably completely besides the point but spend 10 pounds a year on getting your own domain name and email hosted so that a change of provider doesn’t mean you change email address and all the related materials.

Outside of that, I don’t think any other provider will provide you (heh) with better options, considering that these connections are “residential” so the assumption is that if you put parental controls on things that whatever else happens is, well, intentional. Even if it isn’t.

Personally I’d just remove the TV altogether, since there’s WIFI, if people want to watch things they can just fire up Netflix or whatever other streaming service they have.

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If it really is that old - possibly, however, if it was in service in the last 20-30 years it might well be fine given that the current digital TV services use the same frequencies as the analogue channels which preceded them.

If we removed the TV, we would lose our 3* rating (required equipment) plus all the benefits that go with that. I would estimate that less than 2% of our guests bring a laptop and it’s not much of a group activity trying to watch TV around a smartphone, for those that have them… (I don’t, except for work imposed by my day job).

The attached SFR offers found on a comparison site look interesting (need to check that they do total blocking of purchases but this is mentioned by someone in a blog). MUCH cheaper than Orange, no commitment period and speeds even on the lowest package are double what we’re currently getting (for about half the price). Anyone got experience of SFR or chosen one of these packages please?

Why did people with TNT boxes have to replace them when HD was introduced a few years ago?

I don’t understand why anyone who needed to provide a TV to gain a particular star rating for their gite would need any more than a TNT box and a rooftop aerial. What else does the Orange TV package offer?

It is certainly one option that we are currently looking at. We only provided Orange TV because it came as part of our existing telephone and internet package at no extra cost and therefore was the simplest option at the time. We could certainly switch to TNT but would probably opt for an interior digigal aerial.

I’ve tried using these before… not very efficient at acquiring a signal through thick stone walls!

Good to know! Also, thinking about it, we are in a very shallow valley also… not relishing getting up on these old roofs though! We interfere with them as little as possible to prolong the time until it becomes necessary to partially or fully replace them! The existing aerial on one of the gites is particularly high up and hard to access.

Because the standards changed from the old DVB-T to the newer DVB-T2 and old sets/set top boxes could not decode (some of) the new signals.