Tuesday, November 17, 2009

France Télécon Orange / mobicarte fraud

I spent about 19 years in France. Thus, I should have known better than to walk into an agence France Télécom, 189 avenue Daumesnil, 75012 Paris, on September 8, 2009 to purchase a SIM card with Internet service for my Android cell phone (T-Mobile G1).

The sales person sold me service called Mobicarte, for 15 euros, plus a 25 euro "refill" which was needed to activate the "Internet Imax illimitée" option, which cost 12 euros a month. At least that's the name and price of the option that the sales person wrote on the back of my invoice, and told me to activate over the phone.

When I tried to activate this option over the phone, however, I was told it no longer existed as of August 20th. The new rate was 6 euros for daytime, and 3 euros for night time. Or 9 euros per day ! Since I was going to be there for 14 days, that meant the Internet access would cost me 133 euros, instead of the 12 advertised. On top of that, there was the need to constantly reactivate the service. I was not interested in the service at all at this price. I asked for a refund. But I was denied, on the grounds that the Mobicarte had already refilled. This refill had been activated not by me, but by the salesperson, in order to allow the Internet option to be activated. It was "against France Télécom's policy" to provide any refunds for Mobicartes that were already refilled.

I spent half an hour arguing with the store manager, Mme "Rochai B", who kept arguing it was not in her power to refund - they can only take money, even though the sales person was clearly in error and not aware of the option change ! She agreed to take back the Mobicarte, and write a letter to corporate to request a refund.

The refund, of course, never came. I was also unable to obtain satisfaction by disputing the France Télécom charge on my credit card with American Express, even though the charge was clearly fraudulent, as to this day, France Télécom is still in possession of the Mobicarte, and still has my money.

If I didn't live all the way in California, I would have taken the store to court. As it is, my only recourse is to share my experience with this very shady company, which is unethical and uses deceptive sales tactics, and warn all its potential customers that France Télécom does not keep their promises, even when they are in writing.


  1. why didn't AMEX honor your claim? - that's the usual way I avoid these kinds of scams - I rely on AMEX - in this case, I would simply say I never received promised services, i.e., no internet connection and I returned the card when the price changed - I can't imagine AMEX not agreeing to credit me and debit the merchant.

    P.S. I just saw your listings of CD4 and VL and was wondering if you have been tested for the CR5 protein.

    Best to you,

  2. Dave,

    Amex requested proof that the merchant was going to issue a credit. And of course the merchant did no such thing. Unfortunately, the laws in other countries protect the merchants, not consumers, and I have no recourse. The consumer laws in the US only apply to transactions made in the US.

    I have not been tested for the CR5 protein. But I was tested for CCR5 delta 32, and I don't have the protective mutation.

  3. Similar happened to me, although they say it was 12 euros/month, afterwards they charged me by the minute of using email and said it was not included. Of course nobody was kind enough to mention. Also I believe they charge different the use of GPS, downloading material, etc. They wont tell u at the store they just try to see how can u be ripped off. I spent 100 euros in 10 days, afterwards they give u a french number if u want to complain.