I have a new phone. Let me tell you the story.
I’d been trying to spend some part of my £35 Phone Fund with Orange to get myself a new phone for some time. I don’t buy new mobile phones in high street shops, because if you buy a phone in the shop they will activate it for you immediately and this means you cannot return it if it turns out that out of the box it’s not what you wanted. But if you order a phone and it’s delivered by post, you have a statutory right to return goods within 10 days for a full refund if not satisfied.
So I wanted to buy my phone via their website shop. There was not a clue how to do with Phone Fund though. There was no information about that on the www.orange.co.uk website – The Chat window that kept popping up obscuring perfectly useful bits of website, turned out to be a service they offered strictly to non-Orange customers – they weren’t interested in Chatting with you if you already had an Orange phone
and knew how evil they are. The autobot responsible for answering customer emails didn’t know how to use Phone Fund. The sales assistants in my local Orange shop had no idea unless I wanted to buy a phone there and then, which I didn’t (see above for statutory rights, and the shop didn’t have the phone I wanted, anyway). Finally I gave in, resigned myself to an annoying sales talk, and called the 0800 number.
…To find that the only way I could use the Phone Fund to buy myself a new phone was to do so on the phone. Orange will only tell you this if you actually phone them, though.
Never mind. As it happened, I was going to be working from home the next day, apart from a morning appointment, so I was happy to take the afternoon delivery slot of 2:30-4:30. I got a text confirming this the next morning from UKMail, who Orange use as their partners in evil.
The sales guy on the phone did try a pitch, but he quit when I pointed out to him that I knew the phone I wanted, I knew I wanted a PAYGO Canary plan, and I’d tried to buy it on the site just to avoid the sales talk. So he gets points for that.
I got back from my appointment well before noon. On the offchance they’d be early, I planned just to settle in and do some work. At 4:35, I rang Orange. They looked up my order. “No, it’s still in transit,” they said.
“But I was told a delivery slot of 2:30-4:30.”
“Yes, but we don’t guarantee that. It could be any time today. They’d have left a slip if they had tried to deliver, so you didn’t miss them this morning. They’ll deliver before six.”
Okay. I settled down to wait some more. A few minutes after six, I rang Orange again.
“Well, it could be any time up to 10pm. All I can do is check your Consignment Number on their website. They say it’s still in transit, so it’ll be there eventually.”
Okay. I settled down to wait some more. This time I knew I could look it up on the UK Mail website. Every so often, I checked it: always in transit.
As soon as 10pm rolled around, and the phone had not been delivered, I rang Orange. Their phone walked me through the pushbutton menu to the very end, where instead of saying “Our advisers are busy right now, please check the orange.co.uk website” I got a recorded message saying “Ha ha on you, our offices are closed!”
So I checked UK Mail again.
Now it said that Consignment Status was “Delivered” not the “In Transit” it had been monotonously saying for the past five or six hours (the first couple of times, Orange checked for me, and the earliest I rang them to ask was 4:30pm).
Now it claimed Date & Time of delivery was today… at 13:45.
Reader, I was in at 13:45. No one attempted to deliver anything. There was not a knock at the door, a text on the phone, a ring on the line. At about half past three, someone came round from the local community centre, with a flyer about a dance they were having this Friday, and I raced to the front door thinking this was phone delivery people time at last.
So I thought, okay: it is possible that UK Mail have stupidly delivered the phone to the wrong address. Of course they then failed to update their website until after the Orange helplines were closed. I will not despair! I will take the rubbish out to the wheelie-bin, and look up at the starry sky, and reflect on the hugeness of the universe and the infinite number of possible places in it for my new phone to be. And then I will despair, but at least the rubbish bin in the kitchen will have been emptied.
So I did that. And on the way back up the stairs, I saw a small plastic-wrapped packet lurking on the front step. It would probably have been visible when the lodger came home, and she would have picked it up, so it almost certainly wasn’t there at seven (when UKMail were still reporting it “in transit”, I know because I checked). It would definitely have been obvious when I stepped out to speak with community centre person, had it been so silently and discreetly delivered when they now claimed, at quarter to two in the afternoon. (When in any case UKMail were still claiming it was “in transit”.)
But there it was now, about quarter past ten. At some point in the last three hours, disguised by local cars entering and leaving, the UKMail van had arrived, sneaked up the steps, put the parcel quietly by the door, entirely declined to knock to let me know the phone had arrived, and failed to ask me to sign for it. Fortunately I live in a nice neighbourhood, we don’t steal each other’s phones. (Organic vegetables have occasionally gone missing. We won’t talk about that.)
So I have my new phone! Woo-hoo!
Now I can switch to O2. Because Orange sucks.