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Nothing's ever simple, is it? (^_^)

Had to go back to town yesterday evening. The dozy salesperson at Orange had omitted to check that I had signed all the paperwork. He didn't actually watch me, just said "sign this" and walked off. Evidently he was more concerned with why the printer ("pecari"? weird name for a printer) didn't work. He phoned mom and said I neglected to sign the contract. I left a feedback on Orange's customer satisfaction survey to say that he neglected to check the basics resulting in my going out of my way for something - please better educate your sales people. [hint: like how to insert the SIM card into their own product, huh?]


In a related gripe, I phoned the customer support number to notify them of my cancellation of the existing contract (it runs out today). I spoke to a man, gave my details, and was put on hold. After around 90 seconds, I was disconnected. Three further attempts at calling that number proved unsuccessful - an automatic woman asked me to hold the line if I was calling for <my number> and then disconnected.
I wrote notice of my contract termination, included the calls made and their result (plus they will be logged by the phone) and stated that I think it rather unprofessional to not provide some sort of reply, if even by SMS or email to confirm my request of cancelation. I did not explicitly state it in the letter, however as far as I am cncerned, Orange was notified of this just after half eight in the morning on the 14th of January. If they don't receive my letter until tomorrow (when I think it should arrive), too bad. Apparently customer support calls are "recorded", so they can go listen to the recording...
I also included in the letter that I am not quitting Orange, just cancelling this contract and taking out an Orange Open contract (read between the lines: drop the attitude dickwad, you're a big company so don't get huffy if a client wants to cancel a contract).

At least, given that I had my phone activated in an Orange shop, it was working as I walked out the door. The previous two times I got my phone from a reseller and needed to wait several days for it to be "activated".


The contract in more detail

In response to my last entry, Joe (and happy 2013 to you and yours too Joe!) wrote as a comment:
I think, you've been short changed by Orange, my mobile broadband is at least 4 times faster than your adsl, on the other hand my adsl 2+ was only 2 times faster, at night dropping below your speed, 4km from exchange. I had to change modem settings to ADSL, only because of constant disconnections, gave up at the end.
I have changed to cable, download speed 19 - 25 Mbps.
Cable and landline (200 GB and unlimited local calls) - $100.00 a month, mobile broadband 12 GB a year $180.00
In Australia, landline users are charged per phone call, not per minute.

For reference, AU$100 is about €78 or £66.

I think, Joe, the truth is in the fact that you can get cable. You are a place that really ought not suffer from poor ADSL; I guess that the infrastructure is poor? Alternatively, you may be on a cable with numerous joins (each join adds approximately 0.5dB drop in the signal; over a certain length and you're essentially cutting the speed in half each time).

I do not feel I am being short-changed. When I can get a 3G+ signal in the field, I had (on the previous phone) run a speed test showing that I can get around 2.5mbit down and about 2mbit up. It is funny-tragic that using a cheap Android phone while standing in the middle of a muddy field on a foggy day, I can get better connectivity there than with a wired connection.
In the cities (Paris, Lyon, Nantes, Toulouse, etc) they are rolling out a service that will run at up to 42mbit on a mobile connection. I won't hold my breath waiting for it around here, I'm surprised a farming community even has 3G!

The caveat, unfortunately, is that my mobile data package is capped at 500MiB. This might not seem like a lot, but when I was doing night shift work I used to listen to "The World Tonight" on RadioFour every night; plus all the checking of mail, reading TheRegister and RISC OS Open forums, plus Google Map navigation... A few times I got close to maxing out my 500MiB, but I never actually did.
These days, I'm consuming around 240MiB/month, and that is including the obligatory "cute kittens on youtube".

So, here's what I get for my fifty five euros a month (Joe, that's about AU$70):

  • Internet
    • Up to 20 mbit. I'm not happy about the 1.8mbit down/700kbit up; but it is roughly consistent with the signal levels on the line. Orange might be able to improve this by stringing new wire (it is overhead lines) but the chances of that are about nil given Mr. Hollande (the President) is busy working on rolling out superfast broadband.
      Truth be told, my primary downloads are fansubbed animé and most of the 'free' file providers automatically restrict their speeds. When I can, on a line rate as low-end as mine, run two or three in parallel and have capacity to spare, you know something sucks. Therefore, for the majority of my use, a faster connection wouldn't make anything faster. This is perhaps why my line speed tests at 1.49mbit (just tested it, 0.83mbit up) and I didn't really notice the drop from 2mbit!
    • No specific capping or FUP I would imagine that the people on high speed connections that download everything in sight would be put on a special pipe that is shared amongst themselves. For me? Well, I fail to see how 2mbit (ahem, one and a half these days!) would saturate anything. I do like ShoutCast and JPopSuki, so streaming will add it all up. I would imagine I would be on anything from 3-9GiB/month depending on what I do and how bored I am. ;-) Sometimes if I can't be bothered to poke my secondary LNB, I'll watch NHK World via the internet as well.

  • Television
    • Up to 160 channels Orange supply a box that goes alongside the Livebox and reads programming/pricing (for pay per view) information from the Internet while receiving the channels from a satellite dish. This would bring me all of the regular French channels, plus lots of other stuff. This is apparently now available to me for "free" (I'm not sure if a one-off payment of €50 for the receiver is still required) - however I have declined on numerous occasions as not only is my French unlikely to be up to following television broadcasts, but also my dish points to 28.2°E for the British channels. Essentially, I don't need this. But it is there if I want it.

  • Telephone (land line via VoIP)
    • Up to an hour per month calling any mobile phone in France - not so generous really, however see below.
    • Free "unlimited" calls to landlines in over 100 destinations worldwide - The UK (excluding premium rate), America, Sweden, Italy, Japan, Australia... I put "unlimited" in quotes as each call will disconnect after three hours, you can't call special tariff numbers for free, and you are restricted in only being able to call 250 different numbers per month. These aren't restrictions that will affect normal people, it's more Fair Use then anything else, so...
      ...Joe, you get unlimited local calls. For me, "local" is a large part of planet Earth. ☺

  • Mobile (calls)
    • 2h plus some unlimited Pay attention, this gets complicated. I get 2h a month of free calls to landlines. I have also an option of unlimited calls to landlines, plus unlimited calls to three mobiles (any network). So for the mobiles, a French person I talk to from time to time (hi Nikko!), mom's mobile, and...I'm such a sad git I don't have a third person.
      Now, Orange decided to allocate me 44 minutes of free time to landlines (because I started my contract near to the billing period) and I have spoken to mom on the house phone (landline) three times (15m54s, 23m40s, and 14m0s - I speak to her while I'm on break at work) and the outstanding balance is still 44 minutes. Would it have been so hard just to say "unlimited"? It is a bit daft to even have a limit when you then don't! Not that I'm complaining, mind you. I wanted to do this from day one as our mobile reception is very dependent upon the phase of the moon and spectral inclinations and [insert nerdy-sounding excuse]. At least the landline "just works" (most of the time, which is more than can be said for the mobile!).

  • Mobile (SMS/MMS)
    • Unlimited. Unfortunately, aside from mom, the person who I'd choose to send texts to lives in London. They aren't quite kind enough to say "unlimited to other countries". This is probably in response to all the teenage girls ditching text messages for Blackberry Instant Messenger, however even when texts were a pay-for item and Orange OFFERED me something silly like a hundred texts, I went through about fifteen writing stuff like "I'm bored" and "100 free messages and nothing to say" and "gee, maybe this is how twitter started?"...

  • Mobile (data)
    • Up to 500MiB/month - but you can buy/subscribe to a further 200MiB (as a one off or monthly).
    • P2P and Usenet forbidden - it sucks if you want to read comp.sys.acorn.* on your mobile, however it makes sense that Orange block peer-to-peer and usenet, given their...other...purpose.
Not so bad, really, is it? I feel I get more (the unlimited landline calling is great, even if it only translates to 15-30 minutes a day to the same number) for a smaller price. Before, I paid €40+€35 so it's already cheaper! The caveat is that I am signed for the next two years. I don't like doing stuff like that as the future is about as predictable as the weather; however I am a quarter of the way through four years for the car...and the last car's loan? That's been and gone. A year ago. It's no wonder my hair is turning grey!


Just for Joe

The top level Open (ADSL+mobile) contract costs €90/month - about AU$115/month. This offers the above plus free "unlimited" (3hr/call, 250numbers/month) to all landlines and mobiles in France; plus unlimited landline calls to all those countries; plus unlimited calls to landlines from the mobile to most of Europe and America (and French overseas departements); plus 3GiB/month data allocation with VoIP and modem/tethering permitted. Good God, that's 36GiB/year! Plus they'll throw in Deezer (music service, which I ignored for several months when it came as a freebie on my first contract, until I discovered a lot of '80s tracks plus the Deezer app could download 'em all to listen as I wanted offline - sweet!).

If I lived in an area with faster broadband and I had a better paid job, I'd seriously look at this.

Details here (in French):


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