/ 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
Guest
James says:
22 November 2012

Mihai: yes, we all read that a year ago. Ofcom still did nothing. I left orange and have a much better deal and better coverage on Vodafone

Guest
Jason says:
23 November 2012

As posted earlier myself and my girlfriend canceled our contract with Orange and the customer rep was a complete t**t when we refused all his offers to stay with Orange. A few days later we have both started to receive endless spam about PPI and other rubbish, texts and phone calls

Coincidence, hmmm i don’t think so!! Orange you really are a low life f**cking piece of sh*t company, who can go f**k themselves.

I think that sums up how we both feel about Orange, rather nicely

Guest

Hi Jason, I’m sorry to hear that. Please try and stay away from swearing by sticking to our commenting guidelines: https://conversation.which.co.uk/commenting-guidelines

Guest

Hello Orange customers – it’s a year since Orange announced it’s price rise on your fixed contracts. In that time we estimate £41m has collectively been added to your mobile bills. We’ve put together an infographic to illustrate just what £41m looks like: http://www.which.co.uk/orange

For example, you could fill 2,842 bathtubs with Dom Perignon champagne or call America for 98 years non-stop from an Orange mobile phone.

We’re still working hard to stop these price rises, and will be pushing Ofcom hard to start its consultation into unfair price rises on fixed contracts.

Guest
Shaun J says:
30 April 2013

I have been a Orange customer for over 13 years and I am totally outraged by these price rises, I am disabled and been hit with major reforms to my income with the welfare benefit reforms, I have many disabilities including blindness diabetes and renal failure but in recent times I have seen my bills increase by double even though we are scared to even use the phone, I have two phones on one account and both of us just will not use these phones of fear of high bills, just this month my bill has shot up from 75 pound per month to 141 pound Yes doubled.
Orange you must start letting customers with long term relations with you be allowed to cancel their contracts instead of traping them in a contract that they no longer want.
A mobile was once a luxuray item but now its a way of life so ok its about making companies money but for the average joe it about a way of life.
I will not be renewing my contract with orange and you are losing a customer that has shown loyalty for over 13 years on a pay monthly so the higher you put these bills up the more customers you will lose.
Stop being money grabbing pricks and let your customers go if they want to leave at any time once they have served a 1 year contract.
End
A very hacked off ORANGE EE customer.

Guest

Another price rise from Orange, this time announced by parent company EE. It’s 3.3% and we think it’s equally as outrageous. Make sure to have your say on our latest post: https://conversation.which.co.uk/technology/ee-orange-tmobile-price-rise-fix-monthly-plan/

Guest
Lynn C says:
22 April 2015

Another figure given! Text from EE stated 0.9%, the website the text posted me to stated 2.7% and now I read here it will be 3.3%. I have also seen the figure of over 4% on another site (maybe ‘Which’ or Orange, sorry I cant remember which one)

Guest
Kenny Taylor says:
9 March 2013

Absolutely disgusted with Orange (EE) for this legalised theft from existing “loyal” customers. Legal or not it is morally wrong to sign people up to years of fixed contracts then raise pass on price rises. Surely if price rises only applied to new customers then these people could actively choose to accept these prices. I and hopefully every other cash cow for the orange short sighted profiteers will not be re mewing my contract at term end…
The 3network is the way forward, I know plenty of people on it and sing their praises as to handset choice,,, price plans,,, and content of contracts. 1 year left with these thieves so if £0.99p per month equalling less than £12 on the remainder of my contract means orange will gamble with my continued loyalty they will lose the hundreds of pounds from my lack of loyalty to them.