An Open Letter to Orange & EE

Dear Orange & EE

Having spectacularly failed so far to address my billing issue, which has been going on now since March 26 2014, I’ve decided to try a different tack. Your customer service, while generally pleasant, has proved astoundingly inefficient – and amusingly, via social media, advised us that customer service complaints should be directed to….customer services. But I digress.

On March 4 2014 I travelled to Turkey. Knowing I’d be staying several weeks, and that I’d need to access the internet via my phone for work purposes, I bought a couple of your Roaming Bundles. One gave me cheaper calls and texts; the other gave me 150MB of data for £75. When it expired, I bought another one. I tracked it daily via your own Roaming Angel app, so I could see how much data I was using. It reassured me that I HAD USED NO DATA THAT WOULD INCUR STANDARD ROAMING CHARGES. (See pic – click to enlarge it.)

The first screenshot emailed to Orange/EE that shows no standard roaming charges are due.

The first screenshot emailed to Orange/EE on 26.03.14 that shows no standard roaming charges are due.

Sorted – or so I thought.

I was rather surprised, while I was away, to receive a text telling me I was exceeding my usage allowance. I was completely shocked when I called the customer service line – from Turkey, at some exorbitant charge – to be told my bill stood at around £2,000. Yes, folks, you read that right – around £2,000.

I spoke to a lovely lady called Deborah who asked me to email her a screenshot showing the app was applying the roaming bundle and was telling me no standard roaming charges were due. She agreed on seeing it that there was an issue; it couldn’t be addressed until my next billing date, on April 15th, but she’d make a note in her diary to call me and help me sort it out. In the meantime, she said, she’d unblock my phone and I should continue to use it and monitor activity via the app as I had been doing. This was March 26.

So I did. My phone was blocked again a few days later but, as I was travelling home on April 1, I decided to wait until I got back to sort it out. On Wednesday, April 2 I called the customer service line and was assured by the young girl I spoke to that it was not physically possible to unblock my phone unless I paid nearly £1,000 of the amount I owed. Well, that wasn’t going to happen….. I took to Twitter and also emailed the lovely Deborah, who unblocked it again. She also reiterated that she’d call me on April 15 and sort it out. (Side note – Orange and EE, you really shouldn’t encourage your customer service staff to lie to your customers. It clearly was possible to unblock my phone without me paying a penny.)

Time passed.

EE say no recalculation had been requested.

EE say no recalculation had been requested.

On April 15, there was no phone call. Two days later, however, there was a bill for £2,129.50. I – perhaps naively – trusted it was being sorted out so, although anxious, did nothing until April 23. Back to Twitter and another email to Deborah. There was no response from her, but the social media bods said that no bill recalculation had been requested. They’d do it, though, and somebody would be in touch.

On April 30, when I still hadn’t heard anything, I tried again and called both the customer service line and went back to Twitter. Both said the bill recalculation hadn’t been done yet and advised me to cancel my direct debit, which I did. I don’t like not paying my bills, but I couldn’t risk that kind of money disappearing – especially when I don’t owe it. Did I mention that the app said I’D USED NO DATA THAT WOULD INCUR STANDARD ROAMING CHARGES?

EE advise me to cancel my direct debit.

EE advise me to cancel my direct debit.

This is getting tediously long now, so let’s skip forward to yesterday, Monday May 5 2014. I missed the call, but picked up a voicemail from a cheery-sounding north-eastern chap who said the bill recalculation had been done and £2,129.50 was the correct amount. Hang on – no, it isn’t. What about the packages, the fact they showed on the app if not the Orange/EE system, and that there was clearly a problem that needed sorting out?

Ok, let’s call the customer service centre again. I didn’t catch the girl’s name but she was lovely. Apparently I’d been sent a text saying my attempt to buy a bundle had failed – this was the first I’d heard of that, and I certainly never saw the text. It also doesn’t explain why the app applied the bundle to my account. I explained the story to date and the conversations I’d had with Deborah; the girl said Deborah was working – yes, on a bank holiday – but was on another call so she’d speak to her, find out what was going on and call me back. You guessed it – I haven’t heard a dicky-bird since.

I don’t know what to do, Orange & EE. I am not paying you a ridiculous sum of money that I do not owe you. You might say the data roaming bundle wasn’t purchased, but I have screenshots that showed it was being applied to my account and, let’s say it one more time – THAT THERE WERE NO STANDARD DATA ROAMING CHARGES DUE. If I’d used the amount of data shown – 230.7MB – at your usual rates (£8 per MB) then yes, I’d owe you. But the tracking app says I didn’t.

I want to sort this out. I have no problem with paying what I owe, although this whole episode has been so stressful that to be honest I think YOU should be paying ME something.

I intend to ask people to share this and I’ll be asking the BBC’s Watchdog programme if they’re interested too, seeing as a new series is about to start. It’s the only way I can think of that might see some action and resolution.

If you’d like to contact me, you have my number.

Rebecca Parsley

NB To everyone else who follows this blog – I know it’s not technically a post about moving, but given it’s occurred as a result of our plans I think it’s valid to include it. I also hope it will serve as a warning to other people and customers of EE/Orange. If you buy bundles, track any usage and take screenshots. Make notes of calls, emails and anything else. This happens far too often to far too many people. It’s time it stopped.

 

Advertisements

4 thoughts on “An Open Letter to Orange & EE

  1. Ethan

    Hi Rebecca,

    Someone may have got there before me but I checked on the OFCOM website (OFCOM.org.uk). Here’s the bit I think you need to follow:

    Contact your provider’s customer services department and explain your problem. (Which you’ve done).

    If this doesn’t resolve the issue, make a formal complaint to the company. You should find details of how to do this on the back of your bill, on their website or ask their customer services.

    If your provider is unable to resolve your complaint, ask for a deadlock letter. This enables you to take your complaint to an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) scheme.

    Hope this helps in some way!

    Ethan

    Reply
    1. theparsleys Post author

      Thanks Ethan, and hopefully that will help other people too. According to the back of my bill, the way to complain is by calling the same customer services number I’ve called every time so far. It does say that if they haven’t resolved my complaint within 8 weeks I may be able to refer it to an independent dispute resolution scheme for free – http://www.cisas.org.uk. I have a feeling I may be checking that out before long. 😦

      Reply
  2. Pingback: Excrutiatingly Evasive | a photogenic world

  3. theparsleys Post author

    AN UPDATE: I was contacted by someone in the Exec Office on Monday, May 12 2014 who said he would be looking into this for me. True to his word, he also got in touch on Tuesday to update me and say the matter was nearly resolved. Yesterday (May 14) he called to say the charges were being cancelled and my next bill (due in the next couple of days) would reflect this.
    Obviously I won’t be completely happy until I’ve seen it for myself in black and white, but I have no reason to think it won’t be the case. This chap did what he said he would do, when he said it would be done, so credit where it’s due.
    He said he had had my complaint, emails etc passed to him from a number of colleagues in different areas of Orange/EE, so it just goes to show it pays to be persistent.
    If anyone else is in a similar situation, don’t give up – keep calling and emailing, send everything to the top of command chain, make a noise on social media.
    I also had a call yesterday afternoon from the BBC’s Watchdog programme who were considering featuring my case, so they are worth keeping in mind too.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s