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Orange agrees to resolve router snafu

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Orange has said it will resolve the case of a customer forced to honour a 12-month broadband contract, despite being downgraded to dial-up after a software update crippled her wireless router.

The saga began in May when the customer was knocked offline during the roll-out of a firmware update to her Livebox router.

The mandatory update enthused about access to "new products and services", but appears to have been mostly about rebranding as Orange absorbed Wanadoo.

Following countless calls to Orange's national rate helpline, the customer was finally sent a rescue CD but instructed not to use it until she could talk to someone in upper-tier support.

After a week without internet access and no luck getting through to Orange's techies, the customer threatened to switch to a different provider.But Orange ruled this out, saying a MAC (Migration Authorisation Code) could not be provided as the customer was locked in to a contract until November.

Compromise from Orange came in the form of downgrading the customer to dial-up. She was offered one free month, a somewhat hollow gesture as she was still expected to pay the more expensive monthly broadband fee.

Crawling along on dial-up as July rolled around, with no further word from Orange and no resolution in sight, the customer contacted The Register.

An Orange spokeswoman acknowledged that some surfers had been booted offline by the May firmware update, but insisted that it was a minor issue, with affected customers "numbering in the tens".

"All faults have now been dealt with, either by CSA (customer service agents), with the installation CD, or a replacement Livebox. There are none outstanding."

But an internal three-day investigation later confirmed that one customer had indeed slipped through the cracks, although it was claimed that a BT fault was partially to blame.

Orange has now offered the customer a two-month refund and has arranged to resolve the situation at its own expense. We're assured that the customer's Livebox will be either fixed or replaced.

Quizzed on the refusal to grant the customer a MAC so she could move to a different provider, Orange explained: "We only allow customers to break their contract in extreme circumstances." ®

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