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Beat Your Telecom Provider into Submission (Balkans Version)

One of the best things about living in Romania is that in certain situations I feel like somebody who's come from the future. One of the reasons for this is that whereas the majority of Romanians are raised with the notion that they should 'keep their heads down' in front of adversity and that they should adhere to a certain code of propriety which is often totally unwarranted, I tend to do or say as I think regardless of who's around. Basically, I have no shame.

Today I will tell you about how I took on my cellular company, Orange, and won.

Without going into specifics, suffice to say that the 7 Euro credit I put in was wasted in a matter of days after I had agreed to their automatic plan renewal option for the month. I felt ill informed and cheated, and to make matters worse, when I called them to explain they tried to tell me I didn't pay enough attention to the small print. The actual case was that they didn't bother making that small print unambiguous. I was one mad customer and vowed they weren't getting away with it. 7 euros be damned, this was principle!

The few people to whom I explained the situation said, "well, this is Romania, you're not going to get anywhere with it." I half believed it but didn't really care, I was going to be a pain in their wireless ass for days on end if I had to.

I visited a store where they told me they could do nothing for me, I insisted they give me a contact phone number where they could do something. The number they gave me didn't work. I wrote an email via the contact page on their website but it wouldn't go through even though I tried sending it on two different browsers. I just got more angry. Then I went to Bucharest to their headquarters (okay, I didn't go to Buc. specifically for that, but couldn't pass up the opportunity.) I waited for half an hour to talk to a 'customer care specialist' who again tried to tell me that even if the text message regarding the automatic renewal might be ambiguous due to space constraints, the entire terms are clearly stated on their website. He also gave me the number that didn't work and an email address.

I read their website and didn't find any items clearly stating how I fucked up and wasted the 7 euro credit by not paying attention to the terms. So I wrote an email to the address provided by the Bucharest guy. It went something like this (but in Romanian):

"I'd like to bring to your attention so and so on such and such a date regarding automatic renewal policy. Your terms as stated here (their own URL) do not describe what's happened in my case. I was clearly misinformed by your messages and the definition of your service is misleading.
I would like the following from Orange:
   1. 7 Euro credited to my account.
   2. Contact details for your legal department.
Good day"

In two days I received a call from Orange. The guy was speaking English at first but then I told him we can speak in Romanian. He told me they decided that they would credit my account as I asked although they believe that their messages and terms are sufficient in their current form. I begged to differ but since I got what I wanted I didn't press the issue.

I took on a telecom giant and I won. It was a good day.




  1. AnonymousJuly 11, 2012

    Oddly enough, I live in England, and this seems to be common practice here: read the small print carefully, or else you loose your money. Not sure how things are going in Canada, but I'm pretty sure you still have to read the fine print.

    In Romania you also have a service called "Consumer Protection". Make sure you call them next time, and stop whining. You are not really Canadian, as I can see, you are in fact Romanian raised in Canada.

  2. Anon, I was trying to illustrate that with the Romanian "can't do" mentality, few people here try fighting it out with a corporation even if for the average West-ern citizen it's common practice to do just that.
    Why call consumer protection when I can handle it myself? I'd rather get escalated to the CEO before letting an uninterested functionary fight my battles.

    I'm actually really Canadian and really Romanian, too :)


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