A Moon Special Report: Non Customer Service from Orange and a fond farewell to Spotify Mobile

Prologue

A person (A) was sitting in the sun in the park on the first and last day of spring. As they got up to leave they did not notice that their old Nokia iNothing smart phone had slipped from their pocket. When A realised they tried to call the phone but it rang and went to answer phone. This was not surprising as anyone unfamiliar with the phone would find it hard to answer it when it was locked. A went back to the park but could not find it. When A called it again it went straight to answer phone so the sim card was out. A was not too bothered, a couple of photos were lost but it was only two months to the end of their contract with Orange and they were eligible for an upgrade.

Orange Upgrade

When A called Orange to enquire about an upgrade the first customer services representative (CSR) offered, with much enthusiasm, the new Sony Xperia S. When A asked how much they would have to pay they quoted over £30 per month.  A knew that they could get the Xperia Ray at no extra cost and told the CSR this and the CSR said they would check. The disappointment was palpable when they discovered A was correct. What they did not know was whether the Ray is compatible with Spotify which was A's only really essential application. The CSR mentioned that A could get Deezer, A said they would have to think about it and get back to them.

On the Spotify site none of latest Sony smart phones were listed and the Ray was not listed as supported on Deezer. A had to get a phone that would work with Spotify and could not just take the risk with Deezer. A emailed Spotify (calling is not possible) to check if the Ray would work, the auto reply said they would reply within 3 working days.

A even started to consider getting an iPhone 3GS as they do not cost too much these days and are Spotify compatible. However, A then checked the customer ratings on iTunes and the latest reviews were generally one star with tales of not working after upgrades. A search for iPhone on the Spotify Forum brings up 200 discussions generally about “App keeps crashing” and “Streaming issues”. This was a surprise as it always worked brilliantly on the old lost and lamented Nokia.

Deezer in the iTunes store brings up less but similar results about the latest version not working and users not being able to access there own MP3s.

Also even on Buymobilephones it would be £27 per month with a half decent amount of free minutes and data.


Android?

The first review for Deezer in Google Play:

“My main gripe with Spotify was their utter lack of communication to its paying customers and the appalling abandonment of their Android app. The lack of playback resume (starting from where you left off) is the most annoying missing feature, so voted with my feet and joined Deezer. Deezer is quite good, although the Android app isn't much better than the Spotify one really.”

The most recent reviews for Spotify and Deezer were in the main one star with an impression that the Apps could not keep up with the software upgrades.


How about Windows?

At Windows Market Place:

Spotify
“Has needed an update with major bug fixes for months”
“Says im stuck in offline mode when im not.”

 Deezer
“Spotify app is so much better, come an developers, give us some mango features!”
“it crashes when i plug my headphones!”
“Not stability version.”


Sticking with Symbian/Nokia?

A noticed the Nokia N8 was being offered at buymobilephones at very low prices, not long ago it was £30-40 a month but since Nokia had dumped the Symbian OS it had obviously lost its lustre. Through Buymobilephones it would cost less then £14 per month with 9 months of “redemption” which required sending back vouchers with bills to get the 9 months back, a pain but worth over £180 over two years.

A decided to call Buymobilephones to find out how it would work for an existing Orange customer. The call was answered surprisingly quickly for what A thought would be a Spotify like Internet only concern. However, when A asked how much it would cost to upgrade as an existing Orange customer they quoted £30 per month, A said they would get back to them.

After a bit of consideration A decided to get the N8 via Buymobilephones on a brand new contract with a new number, there would be an overlap of paying two contracts for six weeks but it was more than worth it in the long run. A did not want to take the risk of getting a newer phone which might have compatibility problems with Spotify and even Deezer - if Deezer was good enough. The old Nokia worked excellently with Spotify and so should the N8.  The Symbian OS is going to be supported to 2016 by which time A will hopefully be paying not a lot for a “post app” HTML5 4G connecting phone.


The Application

A went on-line to apply and it all went well. A decided not to enter their current number as it had been cut off by Orange due to the loss of the phone so A could not be contacted on it.

The next morning A received an email from Buymobilephones saying “Your application for a mobile phone contract was not approved by the Network…….We are unable to provide any information regarding this decision. Please contact the chosen network for further information regarding this issue.”

A eventually got through to a CSR from Orange and then another CSR but neither could help.  A could not understand how they could have not approved the application as they had been an Orange customer for 5 years. The CSR insisted that it was a issue for the “3rd party” - Buymobilephones.

When A had first applied for a contract directly with Orange the same thing had happened and it was only sorted out by paying for a credit check via Experian, but why on earth would that be necessary again? The reason first time round was nothing to do with the credit record of A but was very probably simply down to location of the home of A.

A called Buymobilephones again and they answered promptly again but said that the problem was something that had to be sorted out by Orange but they did give me the name of the team at Orange I needed - the Credit Referrals Department. Unfortunately when I called Orange again none of the CSR had heard of the Credit Referrals Department. The third or fourth CSR was very forthright in saying that once the decision is taken it can’t be changed. A asked if they had let the contract expire and then reapplied a month later would they still have not been approved, he said yes. A pointed out that it had in fact been sorted by a credit check via Experian when A had first applied for a contact with Orange. On hearing this he went away and came back with an e-mail address for the Credit Referrals Department.

A then paid £14 to Experian and got another Credit Report whith a score of 99% and sent it off to the Credit Referrals Department. A also called Buymobilephones again to check if the order could be put on hold and to ask if a network had to have a valid reason to reject an application. The very helpful CSR said that yes they had to have a valid reason but also said that if the application had gone through as a request for an additional handset, then it will have probably been approved as A had been a Orange customer since 2007. She then resubmitted the application.

Later the Credit Referrals Department replied to suggest the same thing as they had “Further reviewed and found that you already have an account”. As A had stated they had been an Orange mobile customer since March 2007 along with sending all the payment history listed in the credit report it should not have needed too much reviewing. A replied that it had already been done at the suggestion of Buymobilephones and it was a shame none of the CSRs were able to suggest this and that £14 had been wasted on a Credit Report. Two days later they replied to let me know the application had been accepted for the additional line, by which time Buymobilephones had delivered the phone.

Experian were excellent, when A called to close the no longer needed account they took £5 off the original amount because it was closed straight away, so just £9 was wasted. They said the problem was probably because A was not showing up as on the electoral roll. This was odd as A had just received his voting card in the post. A said it was probably, just like last time, simply due to the location. The application was probably rejected by some automated system, if A had entered the old mobile number online it might not have happened or if A had simply called and told them about the existing Orange account then it would have been ok.

So the Moon would recommend http://www.buymobilephones.net. The N8 is no longer available but there are great deals on Nokia Windows phones. It is obviously best to go for a new additional number and do it over the phone. If you are sticking with your current network give them your account number. You will have the hassle of a new number but these days your contacts should be synced, so it should just require one e-mail to let everyone know, bar the non-internet users you may know.

And despite it all the Moon recommends the Orange Panther Plan – it is great for any cost conscious music fan plus you get a great deal on a reliable if not super fast broadband with good customer/technical support. Just expect a lot of sell and not much customer service from the mobile CSRs and poor a range of phones and upgrade options.


Epilogue

A reply came eventually from Spotify:

Nokia N8 and Deezer





“Right now we do not officially support your device. It is however possible that our Android app will still work on it. Unfortunately this means we can't guarantee a resolution to any issues that you might have. Though we'll be happy to keep on trying to help, at the end of the day this might just be down to incompatibility.”

A now has Deezer installed and Spotify has been uninstalled. It was sad to say goodbye to Spotify on the phone and have the ads back on the desktop app but Deezer works very well and has at least 90% of the Spotify catalogue. Spotify is still probably the best overall and it was great to be able to wirelessly sync MP3s from a PC to your phone years before the iCloud existed. It is a shame they did not do a tie up with Nokia or the Networks years ago and they need to sort out the “incompatibility” issues. Hopefully, as with Deezer, HTLM5 should sort this out.

 Deezer works the same way as iCloud, you can download your MP3s wherever you are as long as you have uploaded them to Deezer, and unlike iCloud you can access them on any PC that can access the Deezer website, no app is necessary. A has also discovered Grooveshark which fills in any Deezer gaps and more and is also great for sharing -  as long as the major labels do not get it shut down.

The Deezer swappable does not give you a full premium account, you can only stream Deezer content from your phone, however with the N8 it is easy with great a sound, a proper headphone socket and an FM receiver. So you can stream music on any FM radio in the kitchen, the car etc. You can create and organise your albums and playlists using the website and though it is not as user friendly as the Spotify app, it does tell you of upcoming releases by artists you have as favourites which is great. You do not have to have a Facebook account to login but A could really do without being asked if they want to sign up to the Facebook social app every time they go to the site.

 For the N8 there is also a DAB radio app which requires this £25 headset Nokia CU-17a DAB Radio Headset - White: : Electronics »

Again you can turn any FM radio into a DAB radio and as most networks do not allow you to stream live BBC iPlayer etc over 3G it is great for radio when out and about. It may not be so necessary with the onset of 4G but that is while off yet in the UK.

 In the end it means A will just pay £14 per month for 2 years as long as the bills are sent to Buymobilephones correctly, less than half the price that was being paid to Orange and Spotify. For this A has got a very smart smartphone, that you will not see very often on a bus or a train and at the bottom it says “Made in Finland”.



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