For about three days now, half of Paris has been unable to place mobile calls through our national cell phone provider, Orange. For about three days now, only a couple managers at the company, when hard pressed, end up admitting there is an issue with “calls that are not SMS” while level one support keeps sending customers back to the booklet that came with their handsets for troubleshooting information. For three days now, nobody has said a word about it.
Why, might you ask, am I bothered by the situation? Well, maybe this requires some perspective for the (great many) non-French among you: a few months ago, the third national provider experienced a similar network outage that made the headlines. Every blog, website and newspaper was on the spot, outraged at the poor quality service subscribers had to endure. Many talked about the golden age of telephony when only one company, France Telecom, was controlling the network, ensuring everybody in our country had flawless access to information. Yet, when dear old FT — that’s how they were called before the Orange name came in for mobile devices — has a similar problem, everybody stays mum.
Once again, this reminds us of a fundamental rule of opinion-stirring: when a company owns your telephony network, your web access and your mobile device, you don’t criticize it. Never. The little outsider you owe nothing to however is quickly shot under a fire of accusations at the first glitch.
Sure, I’m caricaturing here and the bigger guys constantly attract criticism but they do have ways to deflect it. The computer and IT industries are actually a prime example of this power. We in the “geek sphere”, so to speak, read comments and reports on both the large and the small companies. Component failures, warranty extensions, outages rarely go unnoticed. The general public however almost never hears of them. Ironically, events that affect the devices and, hence, the lives, of million of people, slip under the radar daily.
Am I the only one to find it strange yesterday’s news talked about museum hours but didn’t mention many people wouldn’t even be able to set up a time to meet?