Licentious corporate freedom offers the same flawed citizen service as indolent State provision: a lack of legally punitive regulation to control egotistical behaviour. The Slog looks at the truly unpardonable attitude of Orange in France.
Here are a few random examples of the arrogant, mafiaesque monopolism of Orange France:
- To get any service, you have to create an espace client. If you can’t give them your espace address and password, you can’t even begin the process of getting any service at all – even if you’ve already paid for a service which is not working.
- In order to create an espace client, you have to create an Orange email address and keep it active. If you do not obey these rules, this panel greets you after scrolling through endless pages in a vain attempt to obtain some service:
- The internet at large offers you numerous Orange numbers for service you can dial. If you don’t use an Orange phone (landline or mobile) to do that, the numbers simply give out a blocked ‘engaged’ tone.
- If your internet router is not Orange-made, they will pressure you day and night to change to one. They do not supply any technical support for other makes.
- One of the phone numbers offers a service in English. It is staffed by East Europeans who speak a language using Anglo-Saxon phonetics, but it isn’t English. I got through to a lady called Dorsa (Romanian) with the emotional intelligence of a dorsal fin and an attitude problem to make Attila the Hun seem benign by comparison. She patronised, interrupted, contradicted and ignored all the relevant information I gave her. She told me to buy an Orange router by visiting an Orange shop, and then hung up…having solved nothing.
- At the Orange shop, a queue of 19 people (all looking bored, some reading books to pass the time) were packed into the tiny reception. Of the four technicians there, two were on the phone (both laughing), the other two were dealing with customers but without looking at them. One guy was on reception, dealing with each new customer arrival in a zero eye-contact, truculent manner….and then barking at them to join the queue.
- The average French internet star rating of Orange shop service is 1.5 out of 5.
- After a few minutes I left, crossed the road, and walked into SFR. There I waited under two minutes before being served. I was able to cancel my Orange contract for landline and internet, get and sign an SFR contract at €20 per month cheaper, get a firm delivery date for the new router, and receive a promise that any problems would be solved by talking to the named assistant at the shop, or going there for a timed appointment. I’ve been told the new line and internet connection will be completed in 5-10 days.
- When I returned home, my girlfriend and I had lunch – after which I tried to use the existing Orange landline. There was no dialling tone. My better half tried to ring the number, and an automated message said “this number has been removed from service”. I asked some informed acquaintances what they thought had happened. The universally expressed view was that Orange had received digital notice of my decision to quit, and cut me off.
I am old enough to remember the UK under the old GPO telephone system, whereby one waited for hours to get a service number answered, waited in all day for Bolshie service engineers to arrive, and suffered generally from centrally-planned socialist supply that took little or no notice of demand….the lunacy being exacerbated by trade union working practices that produced the highest possible hourly worker rate at the lowest possible productivity level.
But there was a dimension missing from all that: viz, the desire to lie, confuse, overcharge, exploit, blackmail and then vindictively screw over every human shred of consumption cannon-fodder that dared to demand something better. In the 1970s, the driving motive was apathy. In 2017, this has been replaced by fascist enthusiasm. I am many light years from seeing either “alternative” as acceptable.
I wrote recently that I do not see Corbynism as the solution to neoliberalism. Equally, it has been obvious for at least twenty years that corporate monopolism is even worse than State socialism. Both are systemic (not anthropological) approaches based on ideologies long ago ago overtaken by historical change. The idea that either represents any kind of best practice is so risible as to render any intelligent person incontinent with laughter.
This is my oft-stated view about what has happened in the forty or so years since Reaganite Thatcherism replaced engorged socialism with gluttonous neoliberalism: we have traded zero-choice trade union dinosaurs squashing progress for false-choice corporate centaurs trampling on rights. Both collectivism and fascism deny access to the average citizen in favour of the privileged élites. In that sense, they are twins.
Orange has swallowed an old unreformed State brand called France Telecom, and is now shitting out shiny new turds at the other end.
Small, nimble, creative honesty is vastly superior to big, steamroller, dictatorial hypocrisy. It is the lesson that Far Left and Far Right will never learn.