Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Orange vs. L'Étrangère Americaine

I’ve had a love hate relationship with Orange, my cellphone carrier here in France, ever since moving here. Initially I opted for a prepaid plan because I didn’t want to be tied to a contract and I didn’t want to deal with exorbitant cancellation fees either. The start of my new job coincided with the release of the new iPhone and that was enough to make me decide to commit to a monthly plan with Orange. The first few hours of our new relationship was wonderful but the reality of our new commitment quickly set in. I’ll spare you the details but let’s just say that there were multiple trips to the Orange store on the Champs Elysees, one neck rolling incident coupled with a screaming match in poor French served up with a teary breakdown on top.

Since those initial dark days in our relationship things had improved and we were on a solid ground, that is until I decided to change my calling plan (again) to include calls to the US and Canada. I tried to make this change in the store but for reasons I will never understand I was unable to. My only option was to cal their customer service line. Normally, I would outsource such a task to native French speakers but for some reason I decided to make the call on my own. It wasn't until a few days later and 30 euros in extra charges did I realize what a bad idea that was.

Surprisingly, when I called Orange back to them to discuss the problem (I had outsourcing issues that day and was stuck making the call myself) the woman on the other end of the line was fairly nice and helpful. I didn’t understand exactly what she was saying but I think she said that she would credit my account and that the my plan would change the beginning of next month. Not ideal but not horrible either. Today I get a call on my cellphone and it’s Pamela from Orange on the line speaking in rapid fire French. While I was able to catch some of what she was saying I wanted to be 100% sure so I passed the phone over to my colleague. Turns out my plan will be changed as of tomorrow instead of having to wait 3 weeks and my account will be credited accordingly sweet.

Who said the French were lacking in customer service?


Justin said...

Yeah I always had decent luck with Orange customer service. Although I am no longer a customer, my decision was based solely on price. Orange was always good to me, even once the CSR passed the phone to an English speaking colleague to make it easier for me... I was so surprise, but her English was worse than my French so we quickly reverted to a Franglish mix. But I appreciated the effort. I am now on SFR and just go to the store for all issues... the person there knows me as "The American" so she always goes out of her way to help me out. Some advantages of being in a small town.

I am proud of you for your effort... I never speak to customer service on the phone since I always fail!

Amy said...


I'm glad everything worked out for you. And that in your plan, along with the US, you can call Canada too!!

L'Étrangère Americaine said...

Hi Amy,

Yes EVEN Canada!!! Miss you,

Starman said...

If you had gone with that threefer deal with Free (TV, Internet, Phone) you could call the US for free.