/ 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
terry says:
5 April 2012

can anyone help.. i got a contract july last year the phone broke, which was sent away the other day. so i have no phone.. plus they said i could borrow a phone till mine is fix which will be 20 pound down
i cant afford 20pound. im on a low income.. they say it will take 4 weeks to look at now im without a phone.. whats my rights anyone know or can anyone help me.. thanks

Hi Terry,

If you took out your contract last July you should still be under guarantee for 12 months if the phone is fault etc, so while they are fixing it for you and offering you a phone you can borrow than you should not have to pay for it(the word borrow) is just that and should not cost you anything,If you are without a phone for 4 weeks than you should not be paying them for the 4 weeks your contract price….if they don’t agree take it up with consumers rights and ofcom.good luck

Just got a text from Vodafone about price increase (http://www.vodafone.co.uk/personal/price-plans/pay-as-you-go/call-charges/directory-enquiries-international/?cid=rdr-7024-02) – can they give you less than 1 month’s notice legally?

Simon Ferran says:
1 May 2012

Well since we are having a rant about Orange, I might as well join in.

Firstly, the 4.3 percent was absolutey ridiculous! How they went about it by sending us a text message was a dirty trick.

Today, I noticed my upgrade date had changed from 13/5/12 to 26/6/12. When I phoned about this they told me this was for the customers benefit. Doesn’t benefit me getting an upgrade later than planned!

Anyway, eventually they told me I could upgrade today and the upgrade fee of £42 would be waivered. Happy days! So I asked which phone could I upgrade to and they told me HTC One X or S etc etc. I said i would call them back as I wanted to look at these phones in the shop as I had no idea what they looked like.

So happy chappy Simon pops down the town to look at phones and spent ages trying them out. I decided the HTC One x was the phone for me.

When I phoned Orange up again to confirm my choice they started all the nonsense again of not being able to upgrade to the new date. I explained I was on the phone this morning etc so eventually they said ok. Then I was told my contract would be increasing by £16 per month! back to my original tariff. I currently pay £20 per month as I got an Orange loyalty discount.

I asked where this increase had come from and was told my loyalty had run out. So if I want a new phone of any kind I need to pay £36 per month again. I explained they gave me the loyalty discount for being with them for over 10yrs and there was never any mention of my tariff increasing.

So, I have begun the complaints procedure and was told to expect a call in 48hrs. The stopwatch is running!!

So the plan is to cancel and get the same £15 per month contract my daughter is on with Tesco. A little Blackberry phone 750min,5000 texts,500mb of data.

Feel better after getting that off my chest! Thanks.

Sam s says:
12 May 2012

Says on there terms of conditions you can contact orange to cancel your contract but must give them 14 days written notice.

4.3 You may also terminate your Contract if we vary its terms, resulting in an excessive increase in the Charges or changes that alter your rights under this Contract to your detriment. In such cases you would need to give us at least 14 days written notice prior to your Billing Date (and within one month of us telling you about the changes). However this option does not apply if:
4.3.1 we have increas

Icecold says:
22 May 2012

Looks like the network Three raised their price by 3.6% 🙁

never sitting down says:
31 May 2012

and Orange contract ended and now cancelled, I keep my promises !
They asked me if there was anything they could do to keep me as a customer, I politely responded if you can send me a video of the members of the directors office being tazered I would consider, me and the retention person had a good chuckle about that!

Emily says:
5 June 2012

where is the “fair”?

when a customer signed on a contract, he/she has to tie up with the existing price within the contract period and lost the benefit to enjoy the latter up coming more attractive yet pay for less similar package.

On the other hand, the seller has the right to rises the price without giving the customer the right to either terminate or accept the increase.

This is in fact a forcing to consume term and condition!

mark wintetr says:
12 June 2012

i have read all the comments as trying to find a way to cancel my partners contract she pays £20.50 a month and her bills are always £50+ this is ridiculous after 4 and a half hours on the phone they say they can onlyu increase her plan but she never goes over on mins or texts they say its data but they say that shes on the unlimited data i asked how much and she gets 250mb this is terrible but i went to three and for £18 per month she can get 300 mins 5000 texts and unlimited data and its really unlimited with them any advice on how to get out of this farce of a contract

TwoMugs says:
13 June 2012

My husband and I have been with Orange for the last 10 years. First on a PAYG basis then on contract.
The contract was renewed last July for 24 months and was FIXED on paper at 45 pounds a month for both of us. Then the text came saying they would increase. Our bill is never under 55 pounds a week although we do not go over our allowances. July 2013 will see us both walking away from these trolls. 🙁

TwoMugs says:
13 June 2012

Sorry I meant to type our bill is never under 55 pounds a month. Orange has also sided with third party goons who take your money through Orange and use them as a platform. But this is another matter …… 🙁

Emma says:
20 June 2012

Wow, looking at all these comments i thought i was the only one that thought orange are a rip off! My contract bill should be £36.00 a month including insureance but to be honest i have never paid that amount, its always been in the higher numbers. A few days ago i got a bill pf £94.55 which i doubted cos i hardly use my phone but phoned the 150 number anyway and the woman read my balance to be in the hundreds!!! I pay my contract all the time etc. There is no need for it to be that high! Its almost like a scam! Roll on July 2013 ! Should never have left o2. I’ve learned my lessen x

roady says:
27 June 2012

i use pay as you go and being on a low income i really dont use my mobile much except to text my girlfriend so when i byt a top up i use the texts then buy a unlimited text extra for a month which was 5 pound now i found its shot up by £2 .50 p what a rip off

JodieJones says:
23 July 2012

Just go into your or call them and have the direct debit stopped they can say to you that you cant cancel but there are always ways around it thinking off doing that with orange myself there charging more more every month and i just got another bill in the same month grrr

charlie says:
23 August 2012

just got a letter from orange, i signed an 18 month contract for pay monthly phone on the understanding i would get free home broad band, now they are saying if i dont get home line rental with them at £14.60 a month my free broadband will stop , can they do this, i get free line rental with sky for the next 6 months , iv been with orange for years how can they promise you somthing then go back on there word

Mike says:
12 October 2012

I pay Orange between £70 and £90 a month for 3 phones and have done this for the second 24 month contract and all of a sudden a bill for over £800 because they say my son went over his 500mb by 245kb, for the last contract and after the month of August he has only used half of his allowance so why the over usage in August he has not used his phone any difference than before, so they took the money from my account left it in the red and say the over usage of data is correct. They are charging £3.00 per kb so the 500mb they give you for free is worth £15000.00 for a £25 month contract, don`t thinck so. Anyone else had this problem?

Jason says:
15 November 2012

I promised to cancel my contract with orange after they raised the set monthly fee half way through. I phoned them up today as the contract had finally come to an end.

The Orange customer service rep was telling me I had earned £150 in loyalty, I asked what I could do with that, and he said I could get £5 off a month until it ran out. I told him that I could still get an equivalent package cheaper elsewhere and he started to bad mouth the company I said I would be switching to, interesting.

So I politely declined his offer and he became an obnoxious sarcastic prick. Nice one Orange, or EE or whatever you call yourselves these days, p**s customers off and then have a tantrum when they move elsewhere!

Goodbye for Good

mihai says:
21 November 2012