Disposable mobile handsets from environmentally challenged Orange

 by Martin Belam, 1 February 2009

I don't suppose I should allow myself to be surprised anymore, but I'm still astonished at how badly wrong some major brands can get contact with their customers.

Take my mobile phone provider for example.

Orange logo

I woke up the other day reasonably well disposed to Orange. I've had some issues with their website in the past, and don't think I would score them highly in a net promoter test, but I was pretty happy with my phone and my tariff.

Then I got the phone call.

The operator explained she was from Orange, and that I was due an upgrade, could I confirm my security details. I did, and then she said "That's fine. Can you hold please while I bring up your account details?".

Hang on, you phoned me.

I'd love to be able to reverse the situation. Phone up a company and, when I got through to someone say "Great. I'm glad I've got your attention. Now if I could just place you on hold for 5 minutes whilst I rifle through my accounts folder to see what it is I actually wanted to talk to you about...?".

Two bland pieces of R'n'B later she came back with an offer to put me on a different tariff. It was cheaper, with more than double the amount of free minutes, plus unlimited free text messages. Well, that sounded pretty reasonable to me.

"OK, I see you've got the Nokia N95 at the moment, so we'll send you out a Nokia 6220".

Now I don't know about you, but if I'm going to change the portable device that I carry around with me all the time and use every 5 minutes when I'm out and about to check the footie scores, text Twitter, take pictures and write notes for my blog, I'm going to research which one I want. Not just accept whatever Orange happen to have piled up in the corner of the office.

So, when I said I wasn't looking for a new handset, she said "Hang on, I'll speak to my supervisor".

Two further bland pieces of R'n'B later, she explained that what she could do for me was put me on a tariff that was a better deal than the one I had now, but not as good as the one I was originally offered, and they'd send me the most basic Nokia handset they had to offer, and I could just "keep that as a spare" and carry on with my existing phone.

So just to re-cap, I had three options, thrust on me out of the blue when they called me:

  1. Retain my existing handset and continue on a tariff which Orange admitted wasn't the best they could offer.
  2. Get a slightly improved tariff, by accepting a rubbish handset which I didn't want, and just throwing it way.
  3. Get a much better tariff by accepting a more valuable, yet still free, handset, although they didn't seem to want me to actually throw that one away.


This can't be the same company who in the Corporate Responsibility section of their website say:

"Orange recognises that while we run a successful and profitable business, society holds us to account for how we do that. That's why we try to set and stick to increasingly high responsibility standards.


We want our customers, communities and business partners to have confidence in our commitment to looking after the environment."
Orange environment banner

Like knowingly sending out new handsets that your customer doesn't want, and telling them not to use them, just to get them to re-sign on the dotted line with a new contract?

Needless to say, I'm now shopping around to see what deals I could get with a new phone provider. And when I call Orange up to get my PAC code, apparently if I play my cards right they will offer me a loan to buy a pay-as-you-go iPhone and then suggest I crack it so it can still be used unsupported on their network!

1 Comment

Are you sure she's from Orange? She might have been from one of those independent mobile phone selling companies pretending to be from Orange or affiliated to them in some way?

O2 is offering 30% off line rental (including the iPhone) to BBC staff and their friends if you're interested!

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