/ Money, Technology

Orange puts its prices up – so why can’t you cancel?

Orange is hiking its pay monthly price plans by 4.34%. And not just for new customers – existing customers will get hit too. It doesn’t stop there – Orange won’t let you cancel your contract. Is that fair – or legal?

This morning we were alerted to Orange’s price rise announcement by an email from Aaron. He had been sent a brief text from the mobile phone network, but couldn’t quite believe it was allowed to put prices up for existing customers:

‘I do not believe that it is fair of a corporation to change the price of a contract that I signed up to, as my phone bill was essentially “fixed” every month.’

Why can’t you cancel your contract?

Orange blames the rise on inflation hitting a 20-year high, adding that this is ‘having a significant impact on business and households alike’. But Orange won’t have to suffer, instead it will simply pass the cost onto its customers:

‘Unfortunately, we’ve had to re-evaluate our prices for the first time and are sorry to say that there will be a 4.34% increase in our monthly plan prices from 8 January 2012. This is lower than the Retail Price Index (RPI) measure of inflation, which currently stands at 5.4%.’

So if you’re on a monthly price plan with Orange (and signed up to your current contract before 1 September) watch your bills go up by more than 4% next year.

The real kick comes from Orange saying you won’t be able to cancel, as Kimberly Harwood (@kimberlyharwood) told us on Twitter:

‘Can’t cancel my contract as the rise is ‘within their terms and conditions’ disgraceful! Won’t be renewing.’

Ultimately, you’re locked in. In section 4.3 of the contract, Orange states that although you’re able to terminate if it makes certain changes to the terms of your contract, you’ll be unable to do so if it puts prices up at a rate lower than the RPI measure of inflation.

Is Orange playing by the letter of the law?

I’m getting deja-vu from the T-Mobile saga, where that mobile network slashed the data allowance for its existing customers. How can it be right that a company can change the payment terms of your contract when you’re already signed up?

Is Orange behaving legally? It seems that it probably is. Our lawyer Peter McCarthy told us that Orange’s T&Cs would stand unless it could be successfully challenged as ‘unfair’.

The Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999 says a clause is likely to be unfair if it allows ‘a seller […] to increase their price without […] giving the consumer the corresponding right to cancel the contract if the final price is too high in relation to the price agreed when the contract was concluded’.

Ultimately, the success of any such challenge against Orange would depend on whether the increase was considered to be significant or not.

Ofcom cites material detriment

We also got in touch with the regulator Ofcom, to see whether you should have the right to terminate your contract with Orange. It told us that customers will only be able to cancel if the changes are likely to be of ‘material detriment’ (as per Section 9.6 of the Communications Act 2003) which in this particular case, Ofcom was unable to verify.

However, you do have the right ‘to challenge the matter through the provider’s complaint process and, failing that, via Alternative Dispute Resolution.’

Nevertheless, even if Orange is playing by the book, is it being fair to its existing customers? Should companies be able to change prices mid-way through your contract, even if it has allowed itself to do so in the small print? And finally, will you stick with Orange when your contract comes up for renewal? Somehow I doubt it.

Comments
Profile photo of frugal ways
Member

This issue is not for Orange to decide via their contracts.
If there is a significant change to a contract between two parties, then notice must be given (I’m presuming 28 days notice in writing?) during which time, the other party has the right to cancel the original contract or accept the changes.
As a price was quoted and agreed at the point of sale, any change in price, I would argue, is a significant change to the contract. As the price is being increased, then personally, I would cancel.

OFCOM need to act fast on this, their role as regulator is to protect people, what are they planning to do about this?
Once again, I fear it will be customers who are left out of pocket and time, trying to sort their own individual contracts out with Orange.
Any word from Orange on how many customers will be affected by this and how much more revenue they stand to generate from it?

I would also watch for Orange trying to enforce “penalties” for cancellation. Remember, if it is not “actual loss” then it is unenforceable under common law in England and Wales.
It is up to Orange to provide proof that it is actual loss they are charging customers and not a “penalty”

Profile photo of tpoots
Member

This is actually ridiculous. As an Orange customer I have suffered for over a year and a half and will be glad when my two year long iPhone contract comes to an end.

The amount I pay for my contract is perfectly affordable and the tariff I am would be great….if the service I received was ever acceptable. After having a great few months at the start I have been forced to live with an awful congested network which cannot even hold a call (with full signal) at peak times. In addition to this their network sharing with T-Mobile was poorly implemented and actually causes more hassle than it’s worth.

Paying more for this continued poor service actually makes me angry.

Member
Karen Reid says:
13 December 2011

I am six months into my contract and have wanted to cancel since…well…most of it…due to the lack of network I receive. As a supply teacher relying on phonecalls I know that I have missed calls leading to work but Orange simply say I have entered into the contract so I have to see it out…Well not strictly true- they say I have two options; 1. Take a six month break in the hope that the network coverage increases in that six months then take on the contract again where I left off or 2. Sell the contract on…and now they want me to pay even more money for it!? This can’t be right! Whether I can or cannot get out of this contract I will NEVER be returnign to Orange.

Member
James says:
28 November 2011

The short answer is OfCom need complaints to act. I have spoken with them and Orange Executive Office at length today. Any rise is ‘materially detrimental’, however much it is: Orange say their T&Cs allow this, but they are against the law. Scroll to |Section 9.6 on this link and see for yourself:

http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/binaries/telecoms/ga/general-conditions.pdf

Complain – call OfCom on 0300 123 3333 or 020 7981 3040. It’s easy.

Profile photo of Patrick Steen
Member

It’s a good point, and Paul Lewis from BBC Money Box has just said that ‘Ofcom disagrees with Orange’s interpretation of its rules but needs complaints before it can investigate’.

So you can complain to Ofcom via this number 0300 123 3333 and/or make your comments here and we’ll pass them on to Ofcom.

Though if you want redress now, I suggest you complain to Orange by contacting customer services by calling 150 from your mobile, emailing customer.services@orange.co.uk or writing to them at Orange Customer Services, PO Box 10, Patchway, Bristol, BS32 4BQ.

If you get no luck with Orange, then you can turn to the Ofcom-approved CISAS, though you need to have given Orange enough time to respond to your original complaint.

Member
Jessica says:
28 November 2011

hey, I went and read section 9.6. Part c says

“at the same time as giving the notice in condition 9.6 (a) above, shall inform the Subscriber of its ability to terminate the contract without penalty if the proposed modification is not acceptable to the Subscriber.”

Looks like orange have done the exact opposite on their site by telling everyone that they CANNOT cancel.

Profile photo of Patrick Steen
Member

Hi Jessica, the rest of that section goes on to reference ‘material detriment’, as I wrote about in the Convo. If you’re able to argue that this rise is of material detriment to you, then we may have some luck.

Member
James says:
28 November 2011

Thanks Patrick, for spreading the word.

Profile photo of alistair
Member

I thought people only went to Orange for the free cinema tickets.

Profile photo of ArgonautoftheSeas
Member

In section 4.3 of the contract Orange states that although you’re able to
terminate if Orange makes certain changes the terms of your contract, you’ll
be unable to do so if it puts prices up at a rate lower than the RPI measure
of inflation.

On the facts pertaining to the Contract freely entered into, I do not see how
applicable exclusion or exemption clause can be successfully challenged in
Court.

It would seem Orange has a ‘cast iron’ case but would definitely not say
Claimant is going to be laughed out of Court with costs.

Profile photo of frugal ways
Member

Just some things I would use to defend a cancellation;

* misrepresentation at the point of sale – did the salesperson point out clearly, any detrimental points of the contract (ie, it was subject to a future price increases) when the said contract was sold?
* significant change to terms of contract – the main point of the contract is the price agreed upon, for this to be increased mid contract, is, I would argue, a significant change to the terms.
* notice of change of contract terms – have orange provided written notice of the change. As I understand it, a text/sms message would not constitute written notice. Electronic mail/postal letter would be acceptable.
If notice is served in writing, does their notice period cover 28 days? (Which I believe is standard?)

Could it not be argued also, that it is common practice/industry standard for the price quoted at the point of sale to remain constant throughout the period of a contract?
As raising the price mid contract is irregular practice? this would back up my position that the detrimental condition of the contract should have been stipulated at the point of sale?

Profile photo of Patrick Steen
Member

Again it’s down to whether the increase is significant, and whether it could be argued as of material detriment. Moreover, even if Orange is legally water tight – it’s about ethics and customer service. The backlash of complaints may just force them to back down, or Ofcom to take action.

Profile photo of nigel percy
Member

after receiving my text and feeling very angry when i was unable to get in contact with orange due to excessive calls, probably like myself trying to complain. as i have two contracts due to expire march 2012 when my 2 years finish. i have printed this page containing 9.6 from general conditions as at 13th september 2011 for my information, wondering if i can quote this to terminate my contracts without penalty?

Member
James says:
28 November 2011

In which case Orange’s terms contravene the Law

Profile photo of nigel percy
Member

where in the orange contract does it state that they can alter an existing agreement price. without the existing subscribers agreement?

Member
Stephen says:
28 November 2011

I wasnt very happy about the increases either. I have been in contact with orange twice today, my tariff is £40 a month, so id be paying an extra £1.71 a month, i know its not much – but thats not the principal. I have 6 months left on my contract, on the second time of calling orange up and moaning for around 10 minutes the lady offered me £10 off my next bill, itll cover the extra charges i suppose!

Member

i think that orange are a joke. i called them earlier and had the call ended by them when i wanted to speak to someone else. the service has gotten worse since joining with t mobile. But been told by a text message that thecall plan will increase is a joke. the contract you signed for £40 a month doesn’t matter they just want your money. i was told it will effect 30% of customers so thats a lot of money there going to make. I didnt get a 4.34% payrise in line with inflation. They were not interested in what ofcom had stated when my contract is up, its going to end and ill go to another company.

Profile photo of ArgonautoftheSeas
Member

“….if it is not “actual loss” then it is unenforceable under common law in England and
Wales. It is up to Orange to provide proof that it is actual loss they are charging
customers and not a “penalty” (frugal ways)

On the question of charging…

I thought the Supreme Court in a landmark decision in 2009 relating to bank charges
has clarified the law somewhat….and that ‘punitive’ charges could indeed be lawfully
levied AND need not relate to costs incurred, whether actual, reasonable or otherwise
.

Don’t think reasonableness comes into it at all, the banks could charge as MUCH as
they LIKE in respect of unconsented overdrafts incurred.

Profile photo of frugal ways
Member

In which case, I would reference cases dating back over the past 100 years of where legal precedent has resulted in charges being enforced as part of a contract – which were not “actual loss” – as “a penalty”

In the case of the supreme court’s 2009 ruling, it was stated that they were contested on the wrong point of law, the charges were still open to challenge but on a differing point?

Profile photo of ArgonautoftheSeas
Member

See you take more than a passing interest in matters pertaining to English
contractual law…have you got the names of the decided cases the subject
of your alluding to?

Profile photo of frugal ways
Member

Not ideal, but a good point of reference to support a case in small claims:
* Wilson v Love [1896]
* Dunlop Pneumatic Tyre Co. Ltd. v New Garage and Motor Co. Ltd. [1915]
* Bridge v Campbell Discount Co. Ltd. [1962]
* Murray v Leisureplay (2004)

In 2006, the OFT whilst investigating credit card charges and giving them a general cap of £12, stating at the same time that £12 was not necessarily a fair charge, said this, “Whether or not an individual charge constituted a penalty fee would be based on the established legal precedent that the only cost recoverable would be actual costs incurred”

It is a sad state of affairs IMO, that any corrections by businesses today are down to the endeavour of the individual customer to recover, rather than the regulators and laws. People just want to be able to shop, safe in the knowledge that what they are being charged, as regards any contracts, is legal.
I shouldn’t have to know any references of law to protect my family from unscrupilous business practices.

Profile photo of frugal ways
Member

It is getting more difficult I feel, with regulation and laws being changed and coming from everywhere.
The OFT, parliament, supreme court and from europe, all have their say on consumer law, much of which is duplicated, but on occasion contradictary, whereby a party takes small claims action and it can be argued that the law they state, is not applicable, and they are referred to another law in the same field.

Parliament could stop these charges, banks, contracts, etc, but choose not to.

Member

The cheeky gits didn’t even have the balls to put pen to paper to advise me of this increase
I had a text from them,so yeah I rang them and vented my dislike

They advised me why the increase was taking place, so I just down graded my tariff from 25 per month to 17 pounds per month with my loyalty discount

Then I told them when contract ends in 6 months,I will take my whole family off Orange

Now I know it is only a pound odd,but this is not the point,,I had a contract and took it because of the price.cheers for reading

Profile photo of ArgonautoftheSeas
Member

Nah…not a problem for me… people have been known to have been
fired OR abandoned (deserted) on notification by text…. it’s the
message more than the form that matters in this digital age.

Profile photo of Shire of rose
Member

OFCOM is not very stronger power. That’s why Orange is misbehaving with customers. They can change terms and condition without informing OFCOM.
If any companies want to change terms and condition ,they must get approval from OFCOM.
We will see more company will follow Orange and will make more unhappy customers.
It is time to show red card to them ! Stop this company to chew our money in this bad economic condition.

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

Many years ago I bought mobiles on the One 2 One network for me and my mother and bought quite a lot of credit because of the deal available at the time. Soon after this, T-Mobile took over One 2 One and the call charges shot up immediately, by a great deal more than 4%. That was PAYG rather than a contract, but I felt cheated and switched to Vodafone.

Member
Billy Craig says:
29 November 2011

Am absolutely disgusted with orange. Over the years I’ve always defended them but no longer. My iPhone has been playing up and their solution was for me to upgrade my Mac software!!

Now this, its safe to say my contract can’t end quick enough now. I don’t begrudge a little extra but am not happy with the sneaky way its been done. I have a learning disability and purposely asked the sales person to talk me through the contract as I’m also a student and money is tight. I was assured I would not have to pay anymore at anytime.

Profile photo of Patrick Steen
Member

Well done for standing up to Orange (and to Stephen above) – at least they are listening to your complaints and doing something about it.

Member
The Fool says:
29 November 2011

I can only assume that things have got pretty dam tough for Orange for them to resort to this. I would also expect to very quickly see adverts from 3 in particular taking advantage. If you wanted a lesson in how to lose customers this is it, given the economic climate this is not the time to be raising prices, a short walk down the high street will tell you that.
I think it’s disgusting that they have done this when we have signed up for 18 or 24 month contracts no matter what the small print says. When my contract expires there is no way I will be renewing and I plan to reduce my tariff for the remainder of the time that I am locked in.
Legally they may be fine, but at the very least they need to educate customers who sign up to a tariff that this can happen, it’s very hard to pick out from all the small print the pieces that matter.

Member
James says:
29 November 2011

Despite politely arguing my case and agreeing to disagree, Orange offered me nothing. I am surprised they didn’t as it will surely be vastly cheaper to pay off disgruntled customers on a case by case basis, rather than risk losing the argument with OfCom and having to not make the rise. This is worth many millions to them each month and I am not surprised they are defending it with a tough stance. In my case, my contract ends in March, so it’s not a huge amount: however, I am materially affected. Which is why, upon receipt of the written reply which Orange must give, I shall be referring their reply (assuming it is the same as I was told verbally) to CISAS, for them to adjudicate. Paul Lewis (BBC) suggests the Orange defence rests on the tariff rise not being a modification of contract, as it is in the terms. However, I would argue that the terms ‘permit’ a change, which is by definition, a modification to the contract.

If nothing else, this is a morally weak act by Orange, to exploit what they see as a grey area in the Law.

Orange price rise: My view is that if your income has risen by less than the 4.34% rise then it is clearly of material detriment to you

Member
James says:
29 November 2011

Sorry – a note on my previous post – the last para is a quote from Paul Lewis of Moneybox, BBC R4.

Member
Sophie Warren says:
29 November 2011

Unbelievable! Just got the text – they didn’t even have the decency to call or write! No apology, just “We’re increasing the price of your monthly plan”. This is a JOKE. I have been a loyal Orange customer for years but this is enough. If they don’t let me reduce my monthly plan then I will move to another service provider when my contract is up. Shocking!

Member
Mark R says:
29 November 2011

Can’t wait to be rid of Orange. Terrible reception everywhere I go. This just reinforces my opinion of them.

Member
sophie says:
29 November 2011

I upgraded my phone with Orange in March, a new price plan was agreed but no contract was signed (it was completed verbally over the phone), nor was a copy of the new contract sent out……. how can Orange say i agreed to the terms and conditions?

Profile photo of ArgonautoftheSeas
Member

A contract can also be created orally or by word of mouth though it is customary
to evidence it (later) in writing…. AND reasonable steps should have been taken
to apprise you of the terms of the contract OR you could have reasonably
accessed such Terms and Conditions without too much difficulty.

You must have advance NOTICE thereof particularly of crucial/onerous terms
before you enter into legally-binding contracts, to enable you give an informed
consent.

It is important to distinguish a representation as forming no part of a contract
unless later incorporated into as a term.

Profile photo of AnantPatel
Member

Been with Orange since 2011, partner also joined them in 2005, with O2 previously.
Not had much to complain about, i.e. coverage has been fine, plans competitive £25/month.
Customer services is another thing, even after taking their insurance they could not replace my phone with a like for like but an inferior one.
Most contracts run 18-24 months, mine ends in March 2012. So would it not have been better if they just migrated renewals to the new rate rather than a big bang approach?
I’ll see how the other mobile companies react, and will decide who I will go with next, but I can’t see myself or my partner (also paying £25/month) staying, hence £600 a year to someone else!

Member
Darren Williams says:
29 November 2011

Just got the text. What an absolute disgrace. I’m not one for complaining but this has tipped me beyond normality. Unfortunately I have 9 months left on my 2 year contract. If I could get out, I would right now. I can say wholeheartedly, I will never use Orange again. Regardless of the law and their interpretation of it, where is the morality? As a customer I expected much more from such an apparent ‘customer focused’ brand. I’m no longer Orange – Red more like. Poor show. Never again.

Member
Jason says:
29 November 2011

Just got a text through and found this site

Can anyone with more experiance and knowledge of this put a template up that we can use to complain via email/letter or what to say in a phone call so we get results and not fob offs.

Many Thanks

Member
Drewy says:
29 November 2011

I’ve just spoken to orange today and got nowhere, I’m absolutely discussed that they are allowed to change my contract, and told them so but only got the spiel about section 3.4 thrown back in my face. After the conversation in which i ended up hanging up !!! I got a customer survey sent and put exactly how i felt followed by CONSUMER CREDIT ACT MISLEADING CUSTOMERS at the end please add my complaint to OFCOM

Member
james says:
30 November 2011

Congrats, all that does is cause some poor low paid csr to lose some of his bonus. The survey is asking how he handled the call, and has nothing to do with the price rise.

Member
Richard Wood says:
29 November 2011

What a joke!

How can Orange tell you of a ‘binding contract’ change via text, rather than in written confirmation (I doubt this would be the same if I were to text them to say ‘Hi from me. I’m leaving Orange with immediate effect’…!)?!

Surely this contravenes some law along the way! OFCOM hurry up and do something – otherwise Orange will end up with way fewer customers than before.

Moreover…does anyone know if consumers can reduce their current contract payments? If so, surely we should all just do that and therefore Orange will be more out of pocket than before….?

Member
jdeed says:
29 November 2011

I am disgusted with orange that they think they can treat their customers this way and change the price mid contract, I for one will do all I can not to give orange any more of my money and switch as soon as is possible.

Member
ashleigh says:
29 November 2011

Everyone has to call ofcom and complain. If we want somethig to be done about this we cannot just sit about and vent on forums. take action i have e-mailed the managing director of orange and also called ofcom. please do so as we need to be treated right this get out of jail free clause in the contract is unfair and we have to do something about it!

Member
James says:
29 November 2011

Ashleigh is right – everyone should each call ofcom – others can’t call on your behalf. It’s easy and the reasons to object to the rise are littered throughout this thread. The number’s above. They will talk you through it. Do it!

Member
Peeved says:
29 November 2011

Is hard to believe that the extra income is worth the public relations car crash.

I seem to recall something involving Lord Denning and a big red hand being required to point out onerous standard contract terms and conditions in advance in order for them to be enforceable. Of course a price change is material.

Question is whether we want to go through the trauma and nastiness of kicking up a fuss and worrying whether credit ratings will potentially be effected if increase is withheld. I guess easier not to renew.

Would be nice if Ofcom intervened…

Profile photo of ArgonautoftheSeas
Member

So long as other party as taken reasonable steps to bring contractual terms
including exemption clauses to your attention as constituting notice thereof
before the contract was made, you shall no claim in contract against such
other party.

The more onerous the term, the more prominent the advance notice
needs to be.

A price increase need not necessarily be deemed a ‘material detriment’
from a legal perspective.

Member
Tim Watson says:
29 November 2011

I spoke to Ofcom earlier today and they were very helpful – giving me all the advice and help I could ever ask for. Orange on the other hand were a joke. The operator I spoke to even admitted that she found out about the price hike through an angry caller and then receiving a text from the operator (she is on the network as well).

Personally, I’m livid at this whole thing, especially this close to Christmas. If they want proof of material detriment, here it is – I’m 4 months into a 24month contract, this price increase will mean I have to pay for another month (£1.77 x 20 = £35.40 and I’m on a £35 a month contract) for no additional services.

That £35.40 is a material detriment, quite a considerable one. And my increase is far above the stated 4.34% max increase stated – its actually 4.9%

So don’t trust a word they are saying – ring them and find out exactly how much its going up and then find out how much that’s going to cost you – if, like me, its over a month, we might have a case for ‘material detriment’.

I’m ringing Ofcom again tomorrow morning to make a formal complaint and then following their advice – complaining via official channels then through someone else. I’m not putting up with a network who lie and fail to deliver.

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

I feel sorry for you and everyone else affected by this increase but if money is tight then there are much cheaper options than paying £35 a month for a phone. It’s the same with people who buy expensive cars and then complain about an increase in the price of petrol.

I feel a lot more sorry for those who face unexpected bills of hundreds of pounds from their mobile company for doing something like using it when abroad.

Profile photo of ArgonautoftheSeas
Member

It may well be a ‘detriment’ in any unconsented price rise but whether it is
‘material’ from a legal perspective is debatable.

A 4.34 % price rise when CPI and RPI are running at around 5% and the latter
higher at 5.4(?)% respectively would not predispose the Court to finding such an
increase is ‘unfair’… in any event there is the wide exemption clause referred
to earlier which clearly protects Orange’s interests.

A complaint pursued may well be decided NOT in your favour and ultimately
matters may have to be litigated in the County Court (or HC)…. insist on an
allocation to the small claims track for the avoidance of costs penalties if
your claim should prove UNsuccessful (if litigant in person).

Large corporate entities are often not deterred by a reference to an ombudsman
service …. will often not resile from original stance taken and the
law may well have to step in to resolve any unsettled grievances and as a matter
of last resort.

If I have an Orange contract for a stipulated time period, probably would not
make too much of a fuss on a 4.34% price increase, shall find another
provider on expiry of contractual period making the fact clear to Orange as well
as the fact of intending to seek remedies in Court as to any loss sustained,
assuming any intervening steps taken have not had any or complete success.

Profile photo of ArgonautoftheSeas
Member

“……intending to seek remedies in Court….”

Just to put the ‘frighteners’ on, you understand…. as other side’s case is very strong
…. they may, however, just cave in or seek a compromised settlement…. the sums
involved herein is very small beer even on a fifty a month contract…hardly worth
suing unless done purely as a matter of principle.

Member
James (Orange) says:
30 November 2011

Hey, Orange employee / Phone lacky here.

Can I just remind everyone that phoning 150 up to have a screaming match over this is going to get you nowhere. I’m not trying to rub salt in the wound here, but I took about 60 calls today and ten of them were about this price rise, seven of them saw fit to verbally abuse me personaly, because of this price rise, me and my colleagues have no control over.

And I don’t even work in a complaints department.

Profile photo of frugal ways
Member

Common practice in cases where companies need to address problems James, with respect, your company should be manning customer service phones with staff that are trained to deal with customer complaints.
To many callers, you are the front desk of Orange, you are the company representative, the face of orange.

It matters not one jot any reasoning behind why you are in the firing line so to speak, I hear this on a weekly basis from companies.
“It’s not our department”
“We don’t have the power to issue refunds”
Are just two of the common excuses.

Perhaps Orange have a designated complaints department number or extension number customer’s can call, instead of “customer services”?
Posting it here would help many people out and save you answering calls on complaints that you can do nothing about?

Many irate customers, don’t forget, are irate at a company’s policy or handling of there business, which can be addressed by putting the customer first?
When they ring “customer services” they are ringing because it would make common sense if they had staff there that could actually help customers with problems?
It certainly creates a rod for your own (company) back when a customer, who is already unhappy at the service received, rings a customer service dept, only to be told that nothing can be done and to try another department, or are told they are being transferred to another department, only to find they speak to another advisor in the very same dept or are cut off altogether!

Perhaps you could relay many of the posts here back to your managers, who conveniently seem to be “in training meetings” when demanded by the customer, only to promise a “call back” that often doesn’t come for hours, if at all?

Member
James (orange) says:
1 December 2011

Frugal, my department alone (upgrades) utilizes a considerable number of systems, even the most technical person would struggle to memorize and learn every single system orange employs for various different tasks, I’m a qualified IT Technician and I’d happily admit this/ Which is why almost all companies like orange utilize different departments. Teams of people trained to use a specific range of systems.

Which would make you more angry, phoning up to enquire about a bill and having the CSR mess your account up because he doesn’t know what he’s doing? Or being told that he’d have to pass you over to someone who’s actualy trained to handle the billing side of your account?

I’m trained to handle customer complaints, as are all other customer facing members of staff. If you want to phone me in upgrades, and talk to me about the price rise, and speak to me like a human being, then you go ahead and do that. What I will not put up with though, is abusive, rude and threatening calls, which seem to be in abundance recently. You seem to be drawing an assumption that being trained to handle customer complaints, means we’re trained to take abuse, this isn’t the case.

Why don’t we pass you along to a manager? Because nine times out of ten a manager can do no more in a particular situation than a CSR. I mean do you think a team, floor or call centre manager has the power to just turn around and stop a company wide inititive effecting thousands of customers? They don’t, and they’d just register your complaint into the exact same system a CSR would.

Once again, I empathise with those people who have been hit with this price increase, and I’m not saying that you shouldn’t ring in and register your complaint. All I’m saying is that we aren’t there to be abused.

Member
James (orange) says:
1 December 2011

Sorry, i missed one of your points frugal.

Orange doesn’t have a dedicated complaints department that I’m aware of, but any CSR from any department can register your complaint on your file.

Profile photo of frugal ways
Member

Of course, no one is advocating being abusive, but on the same lines, rudeness is not being abusive.
I am fully aware, coming from many years of retail experience, both on the high street and including some time as an O2 call centre operator both in customer services and upgrades, of how things work.

Look at it from a customer’s point of view.
They are not best pleased about agreeing a fixed price for their mobile phone and having orange increase this during the contract – they ring up a “customer service” advisor to discuss the issue – after the common “going around in circles” point is made, the customer asks to speak with a manager. They are refused access to a manager, how does this do anything to assist the customer? It doesn’t, it alienates them.
That a manager cannot do anymore than the advisor matters not. (I have yet to work with a “manager” that doesn’t haven’t authorisation to issue refunds, for example, of a greater amount than an advisor on their team)

From this, often is the case (not just with Orange but with all companies today) that the following happens;
– Customer is put on hold, then the call is terminated
– Customer told it is not their department, then transferred back into the queue for the same dept again
– Customer is told “we are getting nowhere and there are other customers waiting, I am terminating the call,” then the advisor ends the call
– Customer rings back after termination, even more upset than before, only to find the previous advisor hasn’t updated the account notes at all, or with any accuracy (which is a breach of the data protection act!)

The best one is for example as Kris has posted on this thread, whereby the advisor attempts to genuinely explain things and reveals a whole host of inaccurate statements.

I must be old school, where I was employed to actually help the customer. If the customer wanted to speak with a manager, I would find a manager for them to speak with. My opinion on what that manager could do was irrelevant, the customer’s wishes were carried out.
If I was able to appease the customer using the tools the company had given me, then this would be done at the first opportunity, not as is often the case, at the last instance to stop a complaint.
I would also make sure that those above me were made fully aware of customer concerns/issues, and continue to pass the customer on so that their time was taken up dealing with it until they did something about it.

I was just posting about how most companies today, orange and others, don’t make it easy for customers at all. Customers are the life blood of a company, not all are 100% correct in their opinions, but more often not, they actually have a genuine valid problem and the customer service staff should recognise this.

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Frugal Ways wrote: Of course, no one is advocating being abusive, but on the same lines, rudeness is not being abusive.

Neither is called for, in any circumstances. Anyone is either rude or abusive deserves to be ignored. You have made some very useful input but this is not a useful thing to say, even with the justification. 🙂

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In some instances, being abrupt is warranted.

I rang an energy company 2 weeks ago, as they have not returned promised “call backs” or responded to their own “urgent complaint” letter for more than three weeks.
After clearing security then politely requesting a manager, the advisor asked me to outline the problem to see if they could help. I explained that I had done this on five previous occasions and was no longer happy to speak with advisors, which is why I requested a manager.
Once again the advisor refused to put me through, so with a deep breathe I began to go through the problem.
Almost immediately, after the first problem, the advisor started making assumptions and talking over me. I went silent. When they had eventually stopped talking, I asked, “Are you actually going to listen to the problem now?”
The advisor set off talking again, I couldn’t get a word in, making assumptions (incorrectly) as they continued.
In the end I simply shouted “STOP!” down the phone. This call was costing me money and had gone on for well over 10 minutes.
I was told that “the call will be terminated if I do not stop shouting and being abusive!”
“Then will you let me speak for a minute please?”
Off went the advisor again, now with all about how they don’t have to be abused on the telephone, blah blah blah.

I accept that there are advisors in every business that can be like this. Was my attempts to see a manager “abusive?” – I don’t believe it was.
If advisors who are there for “customer services” refuse to listen and attempt to impose their own (often inaccurate) point of view and do not actually listen to the customer, then I am perfectly within my rights to be abrupt and forthright. Even more so when my simple requests to speak to management are being ignored.
I do not consider I acted in an “abusive” manner. This type of “customer service” call is becoming all too common.

Member
James (orange) says:
1 December 2011

We seem to have a similar opinion to what abusive is then frugal. I wouldn’t class someone wanting to speak as being rude. I’m fully aware that the quickest way to resolve a call is to listen and get to the heart of the problem. Thats the way orange trained me, and thats the way I would operate even had they not trained me at all.

Again coming back to the asking for a manager situation. The reason we tend to ask for an explaination is simple.
1: To make sure your notes are correct.
2: To make sure a manager is actualy needed, I mean why wait for one if a CSR can sort the issue there and then?
3: If a manager is needed, he’s going to want a brief explaination as to what he’s needed for.

In a call center you’ll never speak to anyone higher than a team manager (or team leader), their job is to handle tasks too sensitive or complex and time consuming for normal CSR’s to handle. So if someone requires a massive amount of credit adding to their account or a range of complex and time consuming adjustments to various systems. A team manager will handle it, and often he sits with a huge stack of paper scraps infront of him with various issues on, that get resolved in order, which is why he doesn’t take calls himself. In asking for a manager your infact pulling him away from the issues other customers have, and essentialy delaying their resolution.

And again, I’d like to stress that in my opinion, complaining to a team manager is a waste of your time, simpily because he’ll log your complaint into the exact same system a normal CSR would, and the end result would be the same. He has as much access to the bigwigs who make these kind of financial decisions as the CSR. And a CSR feels situation is beyond their scope or authority, they will raise it with a manager anyway. Many, many issues are escalated to managers without the customer even knowing.

Member
James says:
30 November 2011

To the Orange CSR that has been abused – I am sorry that you were abused. I don’t see anyone that has advocated being abusive. My conversations were polite, though we disagreed. I guess the abuse reflects the strength of feeling out there – I trust this gets noted to your managers?

Member

Omg I have two contracts with orange and they have not even bothered to tell me about it. It’s not the actual money it is the principle of the matter. A contract is a contract. I intended on leaving them at the end of my contract due to poor service and crap signal but now I will bad mouth them to everyone I know. Will certainly b contacting ofcom. This is a disgrace.

Oh orange employee I’m sorry about the abuse u have had, that’s not on, u said not even customer complaints, any chance of their number? Cheers

Member
James says:
30 November 2011

Suey – Orange – dial 150. OfCom on 0300 123 3333 or 020 7981 3040. It’s easy.

Member

150 general number, looking for a direct dial number for complaints

Member
James says:
3 December 2011

There isn’t one.

Member
James says:
30 November 2011

If you then select the right option then they put you through to Customer Services. There is no direct number: I dialled 150.

You can only call the Executive Office if you have a current OfCom case number.