/ Technology

Orange adds £41m to our bills – but what does that look like?

A mammoth with an orange on its tusk

Happy Orange Wednesday! Or not so happy if you’re actually an Orange customer. One year ago today Orange announced a price rise on fixed mobile contracts, but how much did this add to its customers’ bills?

On 28 November 2011 Orange announced a price rise for customers tied into its fixed mobile contracts. The hike would have surprised many of its 3.6 million customers, who thought their monthly mobile bill wouldn’t change.

We’ve estimated that since Orange’s price rise came into effect in January, up to £41m has been added to its customers’ bills. If you’re struggling to visualise such a big number, our infographic may help:

Orange mobile phone price rise - £41m added to customer bills

Of course, Orange isn’t the only mobile provider to increase prices. Vodafone, Three Mobile and T-Mobile have also done so. We estimate that collectively they’re on course to take an extra £104m from customers over a 12 month period.

All may not be lost though. Ofcom plans to launch a consultation before the end of the year into price hikes on fixed contracts across mobile, broadband and landlines. So far 33,500 of you who have pledged support for our Fixed Means Fixed campaign, but we still need your help to force mobile phone providers to drop price rise clauses. Do you think fixed should mean fixed?


Many have posted messages to say how unhappy they are with companies that have raised prices mid-contract. I expect that the lure of 4G phones will mean that this poor treatment is soon forgotten.

Tesco and Microsoft have demonstrated that you don’t need to pay too much attention to customers’ comments to be successful, so I think we can look forward to more complaints about phone companies.

I absolutely agree. Insurance policies often list ‘significant benefits’ offered. Perhaps phone companies could do something similar and highlight anything in the T&Cs that could come as an unpleasant surprise to the average consumer.

If a company reserves the right to raise prices during a contract this should be highlighted as a VARIABLE PRICE contract.

James Ganley says:
30 November 2012

I support Which’s Fixed means Fixed campain. In particular to the Orange Mobile fixed contract issue

Gilbert Bruce says:
30 November 2012

Congratulations Which! You are doing a great job. Keep-it-up.

Kathleen Halton says:
30 November 2012

I’m with Orange and am very unhappy with the raise in price. My contract ends in March 2013, I plan to switch to another provider but if one company got away with this – won’t others? I wish Which lots of luck in getting our money returned.

Fixed means FIXED. Any thing else is completly misleading, otherwise known as a lie. Why doesnt offcom get to grips with companies who claim such untruth’s as this. Maybe their foreign directors dont understand English well enough, so a legal test case might make them a little more attentive in future, to making claims which are honest.
Fortunately I changed to Tesco and got a much better deal, but I feel sorry for for the ones with Orange. Come on ofcfoml get tough and sort out misleading advertising.

Brian Huskinson says:
30 November 2012

Fixed price should mean what it says. we have been conned. My contract is up for renewal in February and it will not be with Orange.

tubaman says:
30 November 2012

Ditch your mobile phones.You really don’t need them, People had a hell of a life before mobile phones. They are just stupid toys, the nly reason for them is that the world is hugely overpopulated and somethinf has to be generated to turn money over a keep all this population in work. Ditch the toys and cut the population

Cutting the population would solve very many of the problems that discuss. Of course it is off-topic and probably politically incorrect to even think about it.

brian boulnois says:
30 November 2012

since orange changed to EE i been finding my service has got worse i dont know why its the same company just different name.

Andrew Dalby says:
1 December 2012

What it actually looks like is this: £41 million divided by 3.6 customers = £11.39 per annum which is less than £1 per month. That would be 0.001% of an Merc SLS sports car, not 245.

Point being: why is Which magazine resorting to inflammatory nonsense that not insults my intelligence and makes me question whether I should continue to be a member.

And all to bolster the The ‘Fixed means fixed campaign’ which is misguided at best. Not my opinion, a fact. T&Cs are indeed designed to be tedious, hard to grasp and full of jargon. So was my employment contract, my mortgage, my annual season ticket, my car and house insurance.

Contract law is straight forward: if you sign a legally binding contract then you have agreed to what is in that contract. I would expect Which to hammer home the ‘read your contract/caveat emptor’ message (as indeed it used to), not muster its members via dubious stats and graphics to support a campaign that encourages people to believe that small print is too hard to read so it shouldn’t be valid.

Please go back to educating members and campaign for clearer T&Cs.

I’ll just make it clear that I am not an Orange customer (I read the terms).

Unreal !! 99% of customers don’t have the time or patience to read every word of the small print, and some have difficulty is seeing the print, others an inability to understand the implications of the terms – most of us are not lawyers.
What we all understand are simple words like FIXED, however the companies who are ripping us off need to learn this and put their customers before director and shareholder greed.

Read the information more carefully, Andrew. Unlike the terms & conditions, it is not difficult to understand what Which? is saying.

If T&Cs are designed to be tedious, hard to grasp and full of jargon, then that needs to change.

Mark Woodfield says:
1 December 2012

It’s not just price rises that should be under scrutiny,when I first renewed my contract to include “unlimited” internet or data, I then found “a fair usage policy” which was very low and not at all unlimited. Since orange have changed to EE and are launching G4 I now get texts from them to say that due to me being a high data user and often going over my “LIMIT” their going to reduce the speed and or disconnect me from the service, yet they charge me extra for going over, I am a heavy user due to me business needs bit how can this be fair? I will have trouble with banking, email and receiving payments from customers if they do this!

While Andrew Dalby is right when he says we should all read the small print before signing, he offers no satisfactory reason why he finds it acceptable for Orange or EE to make their misleading claim of a Fixed Price. Clearly it is designed to mislead and entice unsuspecting customers to buy their product. Is this ok in his eyes I wonder?
Yes, mortgages, employment contracts etc; are complicated, but they are not prefixed with mis-leading claims which are simply untrue, and designed to lure you into signing. We are dealing here with BIG business doing grossly unfair trading and they should be prosecuted and prevented from making such untrue statements. What has happened to advertising and trading standards, are they so weak kneed they are afraid to take them on; or is mi-information an accepted part of British life and business these days. It might be for Andrew Dalby who is smart enough or boring enough to read all the small print in contracts, but for most of us there is a right way and a wrong way to do business.
Sadly many businesses, including Orange/EE no longer know ethically, the difference between right and wrong. So its up to organisations like Which to keep up the crusade.

Scott Gardner says:
16 December 2012

Having just read Andrew Dalby’s comments, I assume that, although he is not an Orange customer he must work for a mobile phone company or other rip-off organisation!

He says “And all to bolster the The ‘Fixed means fixed campaign’ which is misguided at best. Not my opinion, a fact. T&Cs are indeed designed to be tedious, hard to grasp and full of jargon. So was my employment contract, my mortgage, my annual season ticket, my car and house insurance. ”

I should remind Mr Dalby that when he takes out car or home insurance etc for a year, or longer for a mortgage, FIXED really means FIXED. There would be outrage if a mortgage company suddenly told its fixed rate customers that “sorry, although it’s fixed it’s not really fixed” – the FSA would be on them like a ton of bricks.

I have had a contract with Orange for many years and this year’s increase was the first time they have increased my charges during a fixed contract. It is also the last, as I am changing supplier at the end of my contract. All I could do was to complain bitterly and tell all their sales staff who call me that I am not interested. It’s worth pointing out that orange (now EE) no longer send out copy contracts by post or email. They just tell you that, if you are interested, terms and conditions are available on their website – well hidden of course!

More power to your elbow Which? It’s time someone brought these cocky companies down a peg or two. No doubt they don’t pay UK taxes either! I hope Offcom and HMRC launch intrusive inquiries into their operations.

Andrew Dalby says:
25 January 2013

iantreynolds is mistaken to assume anything of the sort: I work for a charity, my job is looking after data quality. I’m the nerdy geek who is paid to care about words and numbers, hence why I do exactly the same when it comes to personal finance.

I appreciate Ian and everyone else’s frustration with Orange, and repeat that I agree that it is wrong. My point is that it’s legal. I’m disappointed that Which seems to be inflaming opinion with ludicrous illustrations instead of campaigning for the law to be changed so that T&Cs cannot legally override a contract description which states ‘fixed’.

It’s a bit like heaping abuse on Jimmy Carr or Starbucks (abhorrent as they both are) for being tax efficient: don’t blame the player, change the rules of the games.

Death to all bullies no matter what they clothe themselves in

Linda says:
11 March 2013

I took out a new contract in January 2013. Seemed like a good deal – £5 discount, making my monthly payment £10.50. Two months later Orange is telling me my monthly payment will be increased by 51p – to £16.51. What? Did Orange hope I wouldn’t notice?
A frustrating call to 150 eventually produced an operator who agreed to re-instate the discount AND to defer it until October.
I’m appalled that Orange would increase a FIXED-TERM contract two months after I took it out – AND fudge the figures.