For the past 15 plus years I have been an Orange (now Everything Everywhere) customer. For the most part Orange mobile phone services have been good - I had good coverage almost everywhere I go in the UK and in the last few years I have rarely been disconnected from a call. Customer service, when you can actually find your way through the tone activated menu obstacles to speak to a real person, is very well organised and friendly. It always helps when their system isn't down but my expectations are not high when it comes to Orange and their systems.
My frustration with Orange started with their online customer service area for mobile customers many years ago. As a web application developer I like to create sites that work, where clients are happy with and their users have a pleasant experience. It was not always the case with the Orange customer website. When I tried to login it was often touch and go whether the site would just display the preloader aka "waiting wheel" endlessly or actually let you log in. If you did magically get past the "waiting wheel", 4 times out of 5, I would get the following:
Payment overdue??? I don't think so. Now I'm no mathematician but when you have paid your bill you would expect to be able to access your account, apparently not with Orange. It gets better, after all I was a 'bad' customer. I would not set up a direct debit for my account with Orange. I refused to do this mostly because of the surprise bills of several hundred pounds that I used to get when I would venture outside of the UK and turn on my phone. Instead, I would pay several months in advance which I thought any company would appreciate. Not Orange, by paying in advance my account ended up being in credit. As a result the online account login found I had, more often than not, a negative balance and would display something like the image above saying "You have a balance of £-136.00" and therefore you cannot have access to your account. Needless to say that when my account was overdue I would not be able to access my account either. There was the odd occasion when I could actually access my account online. Unfortunately, it was only when my account balance was 0.00 if it was a lucky day. It took around 5 years and several suggestions to Orange to resolve this technical issue of having a credit on the account and not having access. Is it possible I was the only Orange customer paying in advance for my mobile phone service?
When I did complain to Orange about my inability to access the online accounts service when my account was in credit they explained that it was not part of the service and therefore I had no right to complain about it. Hmmm, this seemed odd considering that whenever I called Orange customer service the first thing the voice would say before allowing me to make any choices was something to the tune of, "do not bother our customer service staff with any questions because you might be able to find your answers by logging into your account on the Orange website". Since I was rarely able to access my account via the website and usually unable to access their customer service team without very long waits, I gave up.
I'm pleased to say that after switching over to O2 I have already been able to login to and use my online account successfully twice. For most people that may be what they have come to expect from their suppliers but for Orange customers "it is not part of the service".
Is there a moral to the story? I suppose.... A company can only conjure up so many barriers to access customer service before the customer gives up and goes elsewhere...