Below is an email I have sent to Orange UK this evening. I shall add any responses I receive.
Dear Orange PLC,
I’m writing in order to place a complaint as I currently have two problems which I expect Orange to respond to in a timely manner.
Problem 1: Spam Text Messages
For the last few months I have been receiving spam text messages periodically. Having not subscribed to any kind of text message service I have deleted these messages and ignored them. Until that is, I went through my itemised bill in detail (which I do every 3-4 months) and found that I am being charged £5 per message for these messages.
As soon as discovered these charges I rang the Orange billing dept and spoke to a customer services representative who told me “not much we can do – try texting ‘STOP ALL’ or doing a Google search”. When I asked what could be done if this method didn’t stop the messages I was told “I don’t know, there’s nothing we can do about this”. I also enquired about Orange’s efforts to block these type of spam services and was told, “Don’t know, don’t think there’s anything we can do”. I then enquired what procedure Orange had in place for reporting these spam services “I’m not sure”.
I therefore have several questions I would like answering:
1. Why is there “nothing” Orange can do about this? If you can block a standard mobile or landline number (which I know for a fact you can do, having known someone who received nuisance calls), why can’t you block an sms shortcode?
2. If Orange is aware of these sms scams (which clearly you are having spoken to the representative on the phone who told me “we get loads of people calling about these”), why are you not doing more to block these services?
3. Why does Orange not have a spam blacklist or subscribe to/set up an industry wide list which spam numbers are added to? If ISPs and email providers can supply this kind of protection, why can’t Orange?
Whilst I appreciate sms shortcodes can be bought easily, I expect a company who takes almost £100 per month from me and with whom I have been a customer for over 10 years now to take this matter more seriously and to protect me from unsolicited spam that I have not subscribed to and may now not be able to unsubscribe from.
The fact that Orange is profiting from this spam whilst their customers are being ripped off does not escape me either. As your “terms of conduct” published on your website state: “….Orange is both the originating and terminating communications provider, because we have the relationship with the service provider. This can be a direct contractual relationship or an indirect relationship via an aggregator or connectivity partner. We therefore retain a larger part of the price that you pay, which is once again shared with the service provider.”
So, not only is Orange doing nothing to protect me from spammers, but you are also profiting from my misfortune? I have to say that I am astounded by Orange’s lack of care for customers in this instance.
Seeing as I have not subscribed to this sms service and neither Orange or myself have any documentation indicating otherwise, I would like to know what the procedure is to reclaim the costs of these messages from Orange?
I have so far found 9 messages that I have received over a period of 6 months (a potential loss of £45) and expect to be compensated for these costs in full. I can provide both the dates the messages were received and copies of the messages themselves, which fortunately have been backed up to my PC.
Please let me know how I can begin the process of reclaiming these costs.
Problem 2: Customer Support Representative
I phoned Orange at 21:49 BST on 13/07/10 to report this issue. As stated above, the representative I spoke to was very unhelpful and what made matters worse was the uninterested tone with which my enquiry was dealt with. Before I was even able to finish explaining my issue I was interrupted with “yes, sms spam messages, yes, you need to text ‘stop all’ to stop them”. I then asked how I was receiving these messages and why I was being billed for them when I hadn’t subscribed to any email service? “I don’t know, it happens a lot” was the response I got.
No matter what I asked, I was given an uninterested, rushed response, almost as if the representative didn’t have time to deal with my enquiry and had something better to be doing. It wasn’t until I made it clear that I wasn’t impressed with the manner in which my enquiry was being dealt with that the representative stopped rushing and worryingly apologised for his tone.
Whilst I’m not an unreasonable person and I realise that at ten minutes to 10pm in the evening someone who is clocking off at 10pm may want to get out of work ASAP, I do still expect my enquiry to be dealt with in a polite manner. The way I was treated left me feeling as if Orange didn’t care about my problem and weren’t interested in doing anything whatsoever to help me. It wasn’t until I mentioned the ‘how to stop/report sms spam’ page I had found on the Orange website that I was made aware of any way of reporting or stopping the kind of spam I am receiving by your representative.
If spam messages are such a common problem (and a quick Google search suggests that they are – to consumers anyway) why are Orange’s customer support representatives not trained to deal with enquiries of this nature? I would also like to know what Orange plans to do in the future to protect customers such as myself from the growing problem of sms spam?
Finally, I hope that someone at Orange who does have the time to help a customer in need responds to this complaint and provides me with a desirable outcome.
I shall be contacting Ofcom and the Information Commissioner’s Office over this matter and have also decided to publish this email in full on my personal blog to highlight Orange’s lack of customer care and to warn other customers (including my family and friends) of these issues. The post can be found here:
Posted via email from James D Clarke