Reports are coming in on internet forums that Bouygues subscribers are receiving confirmation emails for a service called CellPass, which offers “each week 5 downloadable products to choose from among 50,000 ringtones, images, videos & applications.” The service, which costs an appalling 5€ per week, is even more appalling when you take into account the fact that users receiving this email are reporting en masse that they are receiving this confirmation email with no clear way to unsubscribe, having never knowingly subscribed to the service.
A simple search of “Bouygues Cellpass” brings up numerous forum posts on Bouygues’ customer service forum board – an indication already that users were unable to immediately resolve the issue themselves – asking 1) how to unsubscribe and 2) why they were signed up for the service? One particular forum post details a back and forth between two upset clients and a customer service agent, who dodges the question of why the clients were signed up to the service, and how this action was able to be done without their permission.
ISPs & Mobile Operators have always made their fortunes by selling services & extras on top of the things people really want – I got funny looks at Bouygues last year when I insisted that I didn’t want a fixed line phone, and I refused to pay for it. They told me after several minutes that it’s free and I can’t not have it; however, this is definitely scandal-worthy.
I found forum posts dating back to at least November 2012 with customers complaining to Bouygues about being subscribed to paid services without their permission – more importantly, without clear indication and simple guidelines for unsubscribing. Even worse, one version of the email has a link to a unsubscribe option that leads essentially nowhere.
Bouygues is already on the chopping block
Despite Bouygues’ recent victory in 4G, Bouygues is unquestionably the mobile operator that was hit the hardest with Free Mobile’s launch over a year ago. The chunk of the market share that Free Mobile has taken in the French mobile market was mostly taken from Bouygues, and they really need to step up their game. Positioning wise, they are stuck somewhere between SFR – the “cheap” one, who was also hit with Free Mobile’s introduction, but has stabilized out after replacing their CEO – and Orange – the “premium” one. They’ve launched their budget plan B & You, but it hasn’t convinced anyone, and so if they don’t step up their customer service, clients are going to keep flocking one way or the other. Today, they are as expensive as Orange and about as useful as Free Mobile – not a great place to be when there are so many options for users.
I was unable to connect with anyone at Bouygues, but welcome a response from any PR representative – my email’s at the top of this article.
UPDATE 1: one Bouygues customer service representative has said that the auto-subscribe is being done by “Internet+” which is apparently separate from Bouygues, and they have “taken the decision to make it impossible to unsubscribe during the trial week”