Beware the “free” email account. Especially if it is an account set up with your mobile telephone number.
Some extremely important lessons have been learned about them – and (lack of) customer service – in the past week.
I concede this posting might make me appear totally naive when it comes to the ways and wherefores of the interweb, but so be it. I know there are more people like me than there are superhighway aficionados.
Some of the blame might lie at my feet, but Orange has an awful lot to learn about customer service and its procucedures after what happened to me recently.
I set up an orange.net account in September last year when I knew I was going to be made redundant and would be attempting to scratch a living at freelance journalism. It was chosen because I had an Orange mobile phone.
But when I decided to upgrade from pay as you go to a monthly contract last week, Orange committed the offences of serious lack of customer care and appallingly stupid procedures.
Within three hours of my new mobile phone being activated (I kept the same telephone number), my email account disappeared.
Not only had it disappeared, I was informed that no such account had ever existed. Confused? Well, I’m afraid I was. Trouble was, I couldn’t get through to Orange to get an answer. It took three attempts – I was on hold for at least 20 minutes each time – before I actually got through to a human being.
Yes, said the “customer service representative”, my account had gone. It was in the terms and conditions that I’d obviously read and digested when setting up the account all those months. It stated that if I changed my contract, the email account would be wiped from its server.
No, there was nothing he could do about it. It was tough. Read the small print, idiot, was pretty much how it was summed up (yes, I was abusive back. I was angry at the lack of information imparted by Orange representatives in the store where I bought my phone; furious that there was no warning about my email account being wiped; and in shock that my work contacts, folders, work-related paraphernalia had gone).
Another call made the following day and there was a glimmer of hope: I argued there must be back-up, that my emails must be somewhere. This time, the representative said he thought so, too, and promised to look into it and try and get my account address out of quarantine.
I heard nothing.
A posting on complaintcommunity.com produced better results. A woman from Orange’s executive office took my complaint seriously. My address was retrieved from quarantine, but nothing could be done about getting back my emails. She was told that as it was a free account, there is no back up, no help offered in these cases.
She was shocked by the lack of thought on the part of Orange, that no procedures were put in place to warn customers what would happen. “I’ve never read terms and conditions in my life,” she said. “It’s not a customer-friendly system, is it?”
She has recommended procedures should be put in place so that customers are warned about what will happen if they make changes to their accounts; ensure that customers have 24-48 hours’ notice so that important emails, addresses etc can be backed up; and offering a system whereby customers can pay to ensure their account is backed up if something goes wrong with the server.
Will it happen? No idea, but I’m making sure that every important email I receive is copied onto my hard drive. If I had more technical nous I’d probably set up a forwarding account, too. I’ll look into that later (if it’s not too late).
Anything else I could do? Please post any advice!