Orange is constantly categorized as one of the leading brands in Israel and as one of the best service oriented companies by well known financial papers in this country. The problem is that the people writing these things have absolutely no idea what a brand is and that Orange is running itself into the ground.

I have rarely been more upset at a service provider in my life and that includes Bezeq who is the much hated Israeli telecom monopoly  who we all despise for holding back the market at our expense. What Orange doesn't get about branding is that while branding has a lot to do with "messages" and "colors" it has more to do with actually listening and going towards what your customers are REALLY asking. Orange doesn't make the slightest effort to help customers or get things done yet their arrogant service helpdesk has its nose in the sky from "winning" all these awards and seems to mistakenly think Orange is "better". It is not, while their service personnel are dressed better and sometimes more polite (not so much as they used to) they do not help at all and when you complain they attack as if the customer is obviously always at fault. Several Orange personnel have specifically said to me that I must be wrong with my claim that their service is bad since they won so many awards… Stupid, these awards are given based on objective parameters such as how fast it takes them to answer the phone. Sometimes they are given based on a survey but this is mostly crap since the survey doesn't know who to ask (yes statistics are complicated when it comes to disgruntled customers).

So far I only spoke in general and didn't give specifics on how terrible their service is, but I have quite a few examples just off the top of my head:

  1. They lie – a sales rep from Orange promised me in front of witnesses that once our companies plan ends our billing will revert to zero. Today they deny that any such guarantee was made, did you get that in writing? I have a huge unreadable contract I had to  sign with Orange and I will not go and track former employees to talk this over with.
  2. They bully – We are an LTD company. So Orange needs a form from a lawyer/accountant that indicates that I'm allowed to sign in the name of the company. Fair enough. So does our bank. However, Orange demanded I update the form (which is good enough for a bank) and started disconnecting our phones and sending threatening SMS messages. This has nothing to do with payment I gave them updated credit card details and it is my own personal credit card! This is just their stick up their ass, no law requires that they have these forms they are NOT a bank!
  3. They are impersonal – Because of this whole "signing form" issue an automated system called all the phones in the company letting all employees know that they may be disconnected. Since we are a small company and I have a good relationship with most of the people working with me this was not a problem. Also because of previous issues I had with Orange I disconnected all the other lines I had given other employees (lucky call by me!), so the damage was minor. I shudder to think about what would have happened if our company had hundreds of employees who suddenly get a voice mail stating that I had "billing problems"! When I complained to an Orange representative about that he claimed that: "That's the situation and it won't change".
  4. They try to block you from using the network in your own way – I buy my own devices, I bought a 3G phone and they refused to replace my SIM since I didn't buy the phone from them. Just by yelling and threatening it was "suddenly" possible… This is a story I heared from lots of people, why do I need to yell at them and then be blocked from their 3G systems such as OBOX (which sucks anyway).
  5. They are ignorant – They don't know anything about phones… A representative told me that if I put my 3G sim into a 2G phone I might ruin the phone! He also claimed that I should still have GPRS with my account (this was a data connectivity expert mind you) which I was obviously disconnected from. Having talked with many of their representatives they don't know shit.
  6. They steal – After finishing my first 3 year contract with Orange I got a nice letter offering me to upgrade my phone. I had bought a phone for my mother and wanted to upgrade it so I went with that letter to the Orange center and they convinced me that I should pay 800NIS for a phone upgrade (the lowest end Nokia). A day later I walked in the mall and I saw a brand new Nokia phone that was technically better for 600NIS with a SIM card! When asking the representative they admitted that I could have bought that BETTER PHONE for LESS! They would not reimburse me or apologize for that, they did stop this practice though, but they still steal in different ways.
  7. They make claims they can't keep – they always promise that they will have newer devices that just never arrive. Their availability of devices is just terrible.
  8. They send you around – I talked over the phone with a representative who told me that Orange can fix my Treo device which I bought on my own. So I went to the Orange center and they were very rude and claimed that no such thing exists… Just sending me around without an apology or anything!

This is just the tip of the iceberg trust me when I say there is much more and these guys REALLY SUCK! 

Before I go on I'd like to mention that I'm still an Orange customer, there is one other GSM provider which is pretty bad too. I don't want to switch phone numbers just to go to another company whose just as bad!

Why Orange will collapse… Skype and Google will evolve to allow true VoIP over wireless lan. I don't need coverage everywhere, I just need some reasonable access and most places I go to already have a wireless lan around. With the evolution of these technologies things are starting to emerge and the cellular providers will need to compete with a very competitive market. With WiMax and AdHoc networking/billing solutions offered by communications giants anyone will be able to become a part of a global network and start making money. The way I see it, within 10 years the communication market will change completely and these guys will actually have to compete! Fuck them!