Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Internet Access

It is with gritted teeth that this Rambler puts finger to screen (ie writes blog on iPhone). You see it is all a problem with the following, in combination:

1. My iPhone,
2. Orange (the mobile phone/Internet provider),
3. Me (a little bit),
4. Orange personnel (not all of them),
5. Orange and (mostly)
6. Orange.

I may have blogged on a previous occasion about the hassle I had obtaining phone/internet access using a prepaid method (as disinct from contract) that is available in most civilised countries in the Known World. Not so in France. Australia? - no problem. Great Britain? - no problem. France? - have another think about it.

It seems that using Internet on your iPhone is very expensive if you access it with ordinary phone credit. Unless you obtain specific Internet access, any amount of credit will quickly disappear if you open a map on your iPhone, or download (without meaning to) your emails. This is the sound that 25-euro amounts make when they are sucked out of your phone, nanoseconds after paying your money across with your Amex card: "wwwhhhooooooosssh". It happened wwwhhhooooooosssh". It happened when we were in Paris: "wwwhhhooooooosssh".

In Paris, after many trips to the Orange shop across town, and at least one, and maybe two "wwhhhooooooosssh"es. I eventually found an Orange employee who possesed the two charcteristics necessary for a total Internet provider assistance package, viz. 1. A willingness to render assistance to a foreigner, 2. A sufficient command of both French and English and 3. An adequate understanding of the services (especially Internet provision) provided by Orange. Surprisingly, it is the last of these that remain the greatest stumbling blocks.

It seems that the Internet access via iPhone can only be obtained by telephone. Think about it. You need someone in the Orange shop to phone on your behalf. THIS THEY WILL NOT DO! They refuse!

Once yesterday I found a person who would do it for me. Yes, a real live Helpful Harry. A really great bloke! He sold me a 25-euro credit pack which "Of course", he said was just what I wanted. Unlimited Internet access for 2 months! No problems! I tried it and it worked!
Of course it worked, but because it was only phone, and not Internet "wwwhhhooooooosssh", off went the 25 euros out into the ethersphere: "wwwhhhooooooosssh"!

I was not daunted. No way. Back I went today to find the Helpful Harry. HH would realise the error immediately, phone Orange for me, retrieve the 25 euros for me and arrange Internet access with another 25 euros - all in a trice! Back I went to the Orange shop in Antibes. Straight there. I knew its exact location.

On entering the shop I quickly noted the total absence of HH. In his stead stood GB - Grumpy Bumpy. No help here. Lots of shrugging as I told my sad tale. No, he would not phone Orange on my behalf. Not his job. My spirits, by this time dragging my chin down past my knees and bound for my ankles, lifted when GB handed me a phone number for a Help Line for English speakers. Great news! I dialled the number on my iPhone, only to hear the (by now well recognised French-speaking recorded voice informing me that I was out of credit! "Why do I need credit to phone the company I wish to buy credit from" (totally forgetting good grammar), I blurted/babbled, infriated, to GB. This time he shrugged again, turning at the same time to talk to his colleague about France's chances tonight in the World Cup opening round ...

I am not daunted. No way. I bought another 5 euro's worth of credit and tried to get through on the English-speaking line while Jude and Susan visited the Picasso Museum. My call would be answered within 8 minutes, the English-speaking French-accented recorded voice assured me. With about 30 second of wait time (by my calculation) to go, three beeps sounded in my ear and a familiar French voice informed me that I was out of credit. Yup, seems that calls to Orange for technical assistance are TIMED CALLS!

I'll leave it there. I have to. I'm working myself into a lather just writing about it. I'm do it eventually. I'll succeed. I just hope that I will not leave France having finally achieved successful Internet iPhone hook-up only to realise that the credit I have purchased covers a vast amount of time that will gradually expire after I have left the country.

Enough moaning, I'm off to bed.



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