Thursday, 27 May 2010

There’s no such thing as a free ….. gift from Orange!

When first we came to Galicia we spent a good deal of time in internet cafés checking our email and so on. Initially we stayed in a hotel with a free wifi connection, which was convenient, but we obviously needed another more permanent solution when we found a place of our own. After making several phone calls and visits to internet providers we finally settled for Orange’s mobile dongle, taking out an 18 month contract.

From time to time I have moaned and groaned about problems with this system but on the whole it has served us well and has the advantage of our being able to visit other parts of Spain and use it there. We will not talk any more about the occasion when we accidentally used it across the border in Portugal: an expensive mistake!

When we returned from our recent visit to London we found a letter from Orange awaiting us. It contained what looked like an excellent idea. Apparently during the time that we have been using our delightful Orange dongle (actually a small black device which goes into a USB port) we have been accumulating points. The more frequently you log on, the more points you accumulate. And, as we all know, points mean prizes!

With our points we could purchase a mini-portátil (i.e. a netbook) for a ridiculously low price, receive free a Mifi (some kind of multi-connection modem which gives you wifi all over your house), a mobile phone, a new more modern version of our existing modem or opt for a 20% discount on our next 12 months' Orange internet connection payments.

We thought about it, decided that 20% off next year’s bills would be good if we planned to keep up our modem but as we don’t plan to do that it was not a lot of use. So finally we opted to buy a netbook. We have a granddaughter who would happily make use of it even if we decided we didn’t really need it.

So, decision taken, I phoned the free number, explained that I was speaking on behalf of the account holder who does not much like speaking Spanish on the phone (my husband) and told the brisk, efficient, fast-speaking lady at Orange what we wanted. She went through all the details, checked our address, organised delivery dates, took an email address for us, and gave us details of the after sales service and a million other things. Then she told me that she needed to speak to the account holder so that she could finalise things.

That was when the fun started. What she had not mentioned to me was that in order to receive our very good value netbook or indeed any of the free items in their offer we needed to sign ourselves up for another 18 month contract. Now, that was a bit of a surprise. There certainly didn’t seem to be any mention of that in the promotional material. I’ve been through it again and cannot find any small print that says such a thing. Well, in fact, right down at the bottom of the accompanying letter there is a little note about it. So no freebie from Orange!

When I collect sufficient points from Waterstone's Bookshop in the UK, I get a free book, without being obliged to buy another one to go with it. The same applies to my Boots Advantage points. The points on my Nectar Card for Sainsbury’s get me money off my bill. All these things have no strings attached.

It was a good job they gave us a free phone number to call otherwise I might by now be a very angry blogger!!

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