12 Jan 2007
PO Box 486
Ref. from your last communiqué: FS/Campbell/514813/IAP
I am writing to you today, very calmly and very collectively, only because I promised the Lord that I would wait at least two weeks before venting my spleen towards your company and the deplorable way in which you have treated my account. Had I written nearer the time of the blameworthy incident then you would have received a crumpled manuscript scrawled in thick red marker included in which would have been every known insult and swear-word known to man in four different languages, as well as several stick-figure depictions of what I intend to do to whomever I can get my hands on at Orange hierarchy. I hear you ask yourself as you sit in your office, ”What could we have done to force the change from such a normally erudite and polite chap into this raging, seething, still erudite, force of vengeance?” Hah! Like you don’t already know! Hah! I shall elucidate the circumstances for you none the less, as three out of four of my anger management therapists suggest such a process to be cathartic. (Incidentally, the fourth has given up on me and instead slipped me the name and contact details of an eminent Bulgarian hitman who, since the New Year, can move about Europe with impunity. And he’s cheap.)
I returned from holiday at the beginning of November to find waiting for me what I thought to be a particularly badly-phrased, unclear and very rude and threatening letter from your company (hence to be referred to as ‘you’ because it makes me feel better to target something that can be easily crushed) informing me that due to my large bandwidth usage my account was shortly to be cancelled. I was flabbergasted. I have had an uninterrupted account with what is now Orange ISP since back when it was Freeserve, through the period of time when it was Wannadoo, with no problems whatsoever. May I now make a small point, one which is little but of large and repercussive relevance: at no time since the original sign-up with Freeserve have I received any form of contract, be it hard or electronic copy. Bare that in mind Ian. So, in the face of this alarming letter from you I immediately contacted your Customer Service Call Centre. If you reference my last letter to you, dated 15 November 2006, you will see that the matter of my account had been handled in, what I thought at the time to be, a professional and courteous way. The problem with my £17.99 per month contract and the limited bandwidth usage it entailed was dealt with by your Customer Service Representative by upgrading me to the £19.99 per month Unlimited Usage account. Incidentally Ian, for your perusal and education:
unlimited adj. 1. Without limits or bounds: unlimited knowledge. 2. Not restricted, limited, or qualified: unlimited power.
Hence – ‘Unlimited Usage’ – being not restricted, not limited, not qualified in any way. Can it be any clearer than that? I think not.
Things went ahead well. My O2 phone contract was coming up for renewal and I was intent on taking advantage of your company’s combined account for phone and internet access, for myself and strands of the family. That was until one day shortly before Christmas when my username and/or password were apparently incorrect and I cold not gain access to your server. As I mention above, I have had the same account since the days of Freeserve and was in no doubt that I had made no error with my sign-in. I called the Technical Assistance department at Orange only to be told that, not only had my account been unceremoniously and without notification cancelled, but that I owed you around £190.00 due to said cancellation. In my normal polite and well-brought-up manner I apologised in advance to the technical care agent and then proceeded to swear profusely at him. The refined version went a little something like this:
“You what? Cancelled? How can you cancel my account? Why?”
Due to overusage.
“Overusage? Overusage? Overusage! But the account is Unlimited! How can you over use something without limits? This is not complicated semantics! Explain! No wait! Explain first why I owe you near enough two hundred notes!”
Due to outstanding subscription fee on cancelled contract.
“What? Insane dribble! Get me your supervisor now!”
No problem sir. I’ve put a few of these calls through to him today. Don’t worry, I think we drop the charge.
“Good Lord man, what sort of slip-shod operation is being run there? Eh?”
“Right, good, explain.”
Well sir, because you downloaded around 80gig last month you have broken the contract with us.
“Would that be the ‘unlimited’ contract?”
Well, the contract does carry the ‘Fair Usage’ caveat.
“The what? ‘Fair Usage’ caveat? What’s that then? No, don’t tell me, it’s small print isn’t it?”
Yes sir. It means you have to respect other Orange internet users.
“What! I paid for the ‘Unlimited’ account exactly so I wouldn’t have to worry about my usage at all! What are you lot playing at?”
All ISP’s have a fair usage clause sir.
“So what? I didn’t know about it and now my account is cancelled, I can’t access my work emails nor can I communicate visually with my brother overseas during Christmas. You are having a bath, surely?”
No sir. The fair usage clause clearly states….
“Where does it state? At no point during the phone conversation I had to upgrade my account to expressly avoid this exact problem was I informed that I might have my account cancelled if I used it too much. Perhaps the agent couldn’t get their head around the clear contradiction of terms involved? I have received no information about this through the mail or email. How do you expect me to follow a contract I do not have? I demand you get me on-line immediately!”
Sorry sir, but since the account was cancelled BT has flagged the line and it is unusable for a period of at least ten working days.
(N.B. At this point Ian, I informed the supervisor that I was a solicitor and spent portions of my time dealing with Contractual Disagreements. He went quiet and then said there was nothing he could do, he understood my point, he was sorry, there really was nothing he could do, sorry again, happy Christmas. I returned the good will adding that I hoped he enjoyed particularly unpleasant stuffing over the seasonal hiatus.)
So there you are; a detailed account, from my point of view, of the despicable and hugely regretful incident that you put me through. I write this letter for your information only. I do not want nor expect any form of apology or reparation from you. I have no intention of having anything to do with Orange ever again, even if you offer me ‘Free Communications for Life!’ as, and I think you’ll appreciate my point here Ian, that could mean no comms. for a month and a thousand pound fine for even daring to believe that the title of the offer might have some truth about it, somewhere, somehow. I am sure you will not mourn the loss of several customers. Despite the fact that I fully intend to bad mouth you wherever I go in the world, I doubt that the loss of maybe thirty potential customers will keep you awake at night or hit your stock much. I can but try. I would just like you to know that presently the internet aspect of your company is to be found wanting. The fact that I was informed that this problem had happened with other customers before me clearly shows that your service infrastructure is weak, crumbling and, at this time, taking on more than it can handle. A very poor show indeed.
I am still off-line, still angry, still upset and still wishing karmic retribution to be visited upon you.
Don’t mention it.
Yours Utterly Sincerely,
P.S. I'm just kidding about the hitman. Ha ha. Just my little joke.
P.P.S. Or am I?