It seems Orange, formerly Wanadoo, is still having problems with its local loop unbundling. The Register has learned that a number of Orange's Broadband customers have at best patchy access to their services, with some being cut off for literally weeks at a time.
In the most extreme case, one customer who upgraded her system from dial-up to broadband 11 weeks ago has not even had her account activated, despite numerous calls to technical support. She is, we note, still being charged her monthly subscription.
"I had the 'Anytime' dial-up," she told us. "Then I moved up to the broadband service. Orange closed the 'Anytime' account and started billing me for Broadband, but I've never had the service. I've complained, of course, and spend ages on hold, but they [customer services] won't even call you back."
Orange is providing her with a free dial up service while it tries to sort out the problem, she says, but that is hardly a long-term solution.
Kevin Ellis, an Orange customer who started the OrangeProblems.co.uk site when he was cut off from his service during unbundling earlier this year, says this is a common occurrence. He has been without broadband for the last three weeks - the second time his service has vanished this year.
"What happens is, you ring technical support and they take you through the basic checks. Then they do line tests and you have to ring them back. Inevitably, the line test couldn't be completed, or they can't conclude anything from it. It feels like they are just stalling," Ellis told us.
His site is jammed with similar tales.
One punter explains: "I've been having problems with my broadband since May 18. [It} will only display some web pages, can't send any emails out, but CAN receive emails. If I’m downloading or uploading anything, it is faster to do so on my dial-up connection.
"I’ve contacted tech support countless times, but they have been unable to solve the matter. The landline bill for all the calls since then have mounted to about 22 pounds, 8 hours spent on the line for nothing. The last time I called them was to get a MAC code. And that was 3 weeks ago."
Another details a similarly long fight with the company, after an unsolicited upgrade to the 8Mb service went wrong. Yet another is even having trouble cancelling the service after being unable to get online since mid-July.
The problems Orange, then Wanadoo, was having with its broadband migration were first highlighted back in February. At the time, the company said it was working with its suppliers to sort the problems out, but it now seems that they've been unable to do so.
As we noted at the time, somewhere between two and three million lines will be unbundled this year. Only a very small proportion of those need to fail for there to be a whole lot of stranded websurfers.
An Orange spokesman said:
"We apologise for the downtime (Name Witheld) is experiencing with regard to her broadband connection. We take our commitment to customer service extremely seriously and so are working with her to get her line back up and running as quickly as we can.
"We have already successfully migrated tens of thousands of customers to the new Orange Broadband network and only a very small number of customers have experienced any problems.
"We deal with each case on an individual basis, and, in the unfortunate event that customers experience extended problems, we will make sure they are fully compensated, and we will work with them to resolve any problems as quickly as we can."®