Seeing red because of Orange

I just cannot believe it. Orange, a large French mobile operator, is advertising its "Internet Everywhere" (3g USB modem) with "reasonable" rates that are not available once you connect.

I spend quite some time in Europe every year. Locating Internet cafes or hotspots that actually work is no fun so I was very pleased when 3G USB modems were aggressively promoted by various operators. So far the best deal that I know of is in Italy where iWind offers 50 hours, unlimited bandwith, for just 9 euros (must be used within a month).

Last Spring, Orange offered prepaid rates that were much higher, but still quite reasonable. You could get as much as 12 hours for 35 euros. While these rates are still advertised today (see here; archived copy here). I've purchased a stick last week and when I connect all I can find are 1h passes for 8 euros of 1+1 for 10 euros. Notice that the limited time offer (24h for 10 euros, valid for a single day) is expired since last March.

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I've waited half an hour in an Orange shop. Nobody knows where I can buy a 12h/35 euros pass. It is impossible to find a way to get in touch with customer service online — you need to subscript to a monthly plan to have the privilege of sending a webform. A salesperson at the FNAC, a large and well respected department store for books, CDs, DVDs and consumer electronics, seemed to know about this bait and switch but added that there is little we can do. Little we can do!! Am I dreaming of there would obvious cause for  a class action if not immediate action taken by the regulators if such practice were happening in Canada?

I have never seen such abysmal marketing by a large scale organization. 

On the positive side, Orange's network does deliver Internet everywhere. If only they could get their act together…

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