Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Orange is a Lemon

In the good old days, before there was any choice, the only mobile provider in this remote corner of Britain was Vodafone, so everyone who could afford a cellphone used it.  Steadily, that situation changed, with other companies falling over each other to cash in on the vast West Ardnamurchan market.  One of these was Orange, which also supports T-Mobile and Three.

On 21st June, the Orange network went down, as did T-Mobile and Three.  Since many local businesses use one or other of these, they were soon calling their help lines - and received no satisfaction.  Many have now, at considerable expense to themselves (and to Orange/T-Mobile/Three's benefit) changed their contracts to other providers.

What follows is one customer's saga, though his story doesn't much differ from other businessmen to whom the Diary has spoken.

"I was away when the network when down so, as I understood it was being widely reported and that the last outage took them over a week to fix, I did not get involved until early morning Saturday 28th while at Salen - the signal there comes from a mast on the 'northern constabulary building' which does not reach Kilchoan. I phoned Orange, eventually getting through to Technical, who stated they had NO reports of a problem.  They checked the mast (it appears they have some remote way to do so ) and STATED THERE WAS NO PROBLEM. As I continued to insist there was, I was told they could help no further as I was T-Mobile and I should contact T-Mobile. My distinct impression was this was their way of getting rid of me!

"I phoned T-Mobile and eventually got through to Technical, a man called Jim. He eventually understood that the only way my phone worked was by 'roaming on the Orange network' as the mast is on Glengorm (on Mull, see pictures), clearly visible from us. While keeping me on hold for a considerable period of time and asking odd questions, Jim spoke to Orange Technical. The outcome was that they could see a problem - there are eight connections from the mast 'cell' serving Kilchoan, one is for Emergency, one for data, the six remaining for calls - and although the mast was operating, the data from the six connections had had NO throughput since 21st June. He later, as promised, phoned me on my landline. The one cell concerned, HGH 0018, was the only one to point in our direction, all the rest were working hence no problems for users on Mull. He had spoken to Orange and raised a 'ticket', but due to the remote nature and various permissions that were needed (land owners, etc.) it would take some time for a engineer to visit. I was promised a text when the repair was completed and a landline call to confirm I had received it.

"Thursday 4th July. Again early, while I was at Salen, I called Orange to look for progress.
I got through to Orange Technical, and they stated there was no problem, no engineer booked to visit - and again tested the mast. When I was more insistent and said that I knew of the eight connections and no throughput, they very abruptly ended the call by referring me to T-Mobile.  At T-Mobile I spoke to a lady who could see the issued 'ticket' from the 28th - but had no idea why no action has been taken.  She issued another 'ticket' and explained about the probable delays.

"Thursday 11th July. Again, while I was at Salen, I called Orange.  On taking my number and details I was immediately refereed to T-Mobile. There I spoke to a different lady, part of Jim's team, who told me there was no information on any progress, and that she would call me later on my landline.  However, she also explained that, sometimes, as the engineers do not carry all the parts, a second visit would be required to the site and, being remote,.... etc, etc. NO CALL CAME.

"Friday 12th July.  While at the Corran Ferry I called T-Mobile, and spoke to a different lady.  She apologised that I was not called the previous day, there was no information on any progress, and she would call me later on my landline, etc, etc.  NO CALL CAME.

"Saturday 13th July.  Early, while I was at Salen, I called T-Mobile and spoke to Alan. He was a bit unclear but a problem had been found: there was no power getting to the 'module' on cell HGH 0018.  This, he stated, could be that just that cell or the whole mast....  I cut in to explain why it had to be just that one cell....  There was a silence of embarrassment.

"I further explained that my phone was now showing 'No network' not, as before, 'Emergency calls only', and I was concerned about heath and safety, our area being remote, rural, lots of visitors walking, etc. He agreed that this did change things, and he promised to push the matter further, and hoped to call me on my landline within two hours.  I did get the reference numbers for the 'tickets' - EEIM 016347 and 012937.  Guess what - NO CALL CAME.

"Monday 15th July.  I spoke with T- Mobile Technical, a gentleman called Martin. He could not help, it was down to Orange. If he had any news he would call me on my landline.  NO CALL HAS COME."

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Jon, although I'm O2, you've probably explained why I couldn't get a signal at Portuairk, and could only manage at the top of the hill at Ormsaigbeg. Yet almost as soon as the ferry left the jetty at Kilchoan the darn thing was pinging away merrily.