Hello world … this is my first blog.

I’m red – fierce red, furious at ORANGE – they HATE their disabled and deaf customers.

The Orange Shop in Telford Shopping Centre mis-sold me a HTC Touch Diamond phone on a 24 month contract last Wed (26th Aug 09).

They were rude and aggressive when I returned to cancel it – at one point I was surrounded by three staff members with the Assistant Manger 6 inches from my face (see below).

Orange Telford refused to accept the Fault Code provided by Customer Services.

They refused to contact Dealer Helpdesk, ‘I shouldn’t have contacted Customer Services’. I should have dealt directly with the store.

This is despite Orange endorsing the ‘mobile services for elderly and customers with disabiliies‘ and it publishes an Orange Code of Practice for Consumer Affairs.

Orange Customer Services were great, advising me to cancel the contract, issued a Fault Code, and told me I was sold an unsuitable mobile for my needs.

So what’s the big deal? I’m Deaf … that is the big deal;

the phone is unsuitable for me:

  • it doesn’t work with my digital hearing aids – I want to call people not hear angry bees buzzing in my ear
  • battery goes hot when you make a 3 min phone call
  • doesn’t connect to my mac – either via bluetooth or usb = no email or web access
  • doesn’t connect to my Artone bluetooth induction loop
  • doesn’t have a signal anywhere at home – home is my office
  • is completely unsuitable for my business needs – it’s not a pda, text is in in a font that makes it difficult to read; I’m dyslexic

Orange Customer Support advised that:

  • I was mis-sold the phone (it was the only mobile they showed me) + should have fully discussed my needs including showing a selection of mobiles)
  • The first time I went back to report the phone being hot I should have had full phone replacement not just the battery changed
  • The mobile phone has no signal between day 8-14 of contract – the contract is non-void + can be cancelled cos of degraded service
  • Told to cancel contract straight away with Fault Code and go to different store

I have severe hearing loss in both ears – this means I can’t hear speech without lip-reading and using powerful hearing aids, amplification gadgets etc. I told the store my needs repeatedly said ‘I’m DEAF’. I was very clear about my requirements.

Orange Telford say NO their terms and conditions state clearly they won’t cancel any upgrades under any circumstance (I was never given those Terms and Conditions).

I was told I shouldn’t have contacted Customer Services as it was nothing to do with them – under any circumstances.

Orange Telford’s attitude towards me was rude and intimidating each time I returned to the store.

During my 3rd visit in 2 days I finally had 3 assistants surrounding me (while I asked again for them to accept the Fault Code and cancel the contract). Other staff were coming out the back office to join in/watch.

By now the Assistant Manager was about 6 inches from my face waving her arms, yelling at me … I can’t lip-read someone yelling or anyone that close up, she was seriously invading my space.

I did manage to lipread her offering me a chance to look at what mobiles I could change to. By then she had moved back from me.

There was no way I was staying, in shock, unable make any rational decision about exchanging mobiles. I was scared, I left.

I’ve sent a complaint by recorded delivery to Orange Customer Services – 4 days later it’s only just been signed for.

Orange say: ‘Orange; because you can do so much more than just talk and text with your phone.

I say: ‘I can’t do anything! Orange, please sort this out?’

I’m now using the Tytan II again – it has 3G signal, the HTC Touch doesn’t. It’s now in it’s box unsuitable for my needs as a Deaf person + for my business. I’ve now lost over 2 days of valuable work time.

Right – so what do Orange policies say? They’ve endorsed an agreement in response to the Disability Discrimination Act 1996/2005.

The good practice guide is called ‘mobile services for the elderly and customers with disabilities

It outlines good practice according to the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 and 2005. It says what I should expect from Orange as a supporter of this guide.

This includes not discriminating against disabled customers, or not making reasonable adjustments to their services to facilitate access. They are also obliged to provide products that are suitable for a range of access needs.

I am stunned. Clearly Orange Telford have never read it.

Orange Code of Practice for Consumer Affairs states:

  • ‘Orange has adopted eight business principles that guide how we do business responsibly wherever we operate, five of which relate to customer service.
  • We will deliver quality, value and excellent service to you.
  • We will deliver quality and value for money, and always endeavour to put customers first.
  • We will follow responsible marketing practices.
  • We will make sure that our customers can make informed choices based on honest and straightforward information. We will provide information about health, safety and environmental aspects of our products and services.

What do I want? Orange to

  • take this mobile back;
  • honour your codes of conduct
  • cancel the contract.

Orange to:

  • ensure all your staff, shopsetc. receive Disability and Deaf awareness training (preferably led by Disabled + Deaf trainers).
  • to ensure the staff Telford Shopping Centre are trained in proper customer services and non-confrontational behaviour

If you want to read on the full story warts and all … it went like this …

I go into Orange Telford on Thurs 28th Aug, my HTC Tytan II has been not working properly for 3 months with no connection and poor performance. At this moment I feel I’ve got sucked into taking an upgrade and conned.

The first time I use it the battery goes boiling hot (phoning Customer services no 150), I’ve no signal indoors so I’m outside in my car in the street and it’s raining). Customer support said take it back.

It costs me another £1.60 in parking and another 2 hours of my time wasted. I’m treated like dirt I tell the sales assistant at the counter I’m Deaf and is there anywhere quieter to talk. He scroffs, points to the seats and tells me I’d be lucky.

Eventually, the same guy who sold me the phone comes out, he doesn’t believe me, he tests it by dialling out. 20 mins later he says it was bit warm. Nothing is wrong with it, he glares as he says it.

I leave and make another phone call (minus hearing aid – not easy) – it goes really hot again during a 3 min call so I go back. Only one assistant in store serving a customer (there’s no-one else around). I interrupt, hand her the phone. She believes me.

Eventually assistant who sold me the phone comes back – now he tests it + chats with friend for a minute (on my talk time) – it’s getting hot again.

Then he says that he’s ‘got one of these and the battery gets hot – just use the loudspeaker’.

I tell him (again) – ‘I’m Deaf I can’t use loudspeaker’. He doesn’t reply.

He reluctantly changes the battery and continues to glare at me as he does it.

It’s nearly 2 hours I’ve been in the shopping centre (and the shop).

I’m just leaving (the shop) when the manager’s standing at the door, he tells me aggressively ‘Its your phone, your contract, your responsibility … don’t you think you should’ve checked it worked with your hearing aids? I WOULD’VE’.

He has his arms crossed like he’s in a Clint Eastwood film dominating the exit.

Stunned, I go home – no signal it goes 1 bar, 2 bar, zero, no 3G.

Find out I can’t use it with my hearing aids at all. I get hope – 1 bar, it disappears each time I try to dial out.

The next day after major conversations with Customer Support (they phone me back because connection is so bad), I’m armed with a Fault Code and knowledge that they have to accept it. Both Business Support and Technical Support say degraded service … faulty phone … not suitable for my needs … cancel contract … I’ve got rights. Right?

First sales assistant looks at me in annoyance, she takes my bit of paper with Fault Code number on it. Ten mins later I’m still waiting (she’s ‘checking the code is on my account’. She asks me again what I’m wanting (to cancel the contract I say – I’m returning the phone).

I’m still waiting been 40 mins now. Staff go in and out the back of the shop like yoyos. It’s making me dizzy.

Store is emptying; I’ve witnessed guy behind the counter being rude to customers and refusing requests. His body language is agressive. He says ‘No’ a lot. No apology no nothing.

It’s now an hour … a new Sales person comes out. She introduces herself as the Assistant Manager as she’s walking towards me.

She’s 6 inches from my face, she keeps talking, I can feel her breath.

I’m getting anxious and feeling my body space is being invaded. I can’t lipread so I move my head backwards, I can’t move, I’m stuck on the seat.

She’s moving around now, waving her arms telling me in no certain terms can the contract be cancelled. She’s being aggressive and shouting at me. I’m being told off.

I shouldn’t have phoned Customer Services, she refuses to phone the Dealer Help Desk when I ask.

I’m trying to keep calm. She says the mobile will work with a mac and will check even though I told her it won’t. She’s furious.

The sales assistant who originally served me is now sitting opposite me, the computer screen is in the way I can’t see his face properly. Another one is standing next to the manager, more are coming out of the back office to join in, I’m closed in.

The Manager starts asking the assistant sitting down questions like I’m not there, I’m trying to defend myself, I think it’s going to blow up into an almighty scene.

I’m repeating myself and opening and shutting my mouth like a goldfish. I just want to leave. I ask again her to accept the Fault Code.

She refuses, telling me she shouldn’t have to but she’s offering me a chance to change the phone for another one ‘more suitable’. She’s jabbing her hands towards the handsets on display. I want to leave. How can she know what is suitable for me?

I’m getting dizzy and feel sick but somehow ask for the paper on which I wrote the Fault Code back (it’s my only evidence). I ask her name and who to complain to. She yells at an assistant to get the bit of paper and the customer services details and slaps both down on the counter.

I say thank you and leave, I phone Business Support, they phone the store then call me back saying there is nothing they can do. I’m sitting shaking trying not to cry.

I pay the parking ticket – I’ve been there another 2 hours.

I go home, take ages writing the complaint letter, sleepless night. I send it recorded delivery (Fri 28th Aug), it costs me £7.15 to send.

I’m now waiting anxiously to see what happens next ..

Update: 14 July 2011 (yes 2011) I NEVER GOT A REPLY BACK FROM THAT LETTER.