/ Technology

This week in comments: Orange, Facebook and champers!

Fingers with faces

Another week with more busy discussions on Which? Conversation. But we’ve also celebrating winning our first award for ‘Best Blog’ in this year’s Social Buzz Awards.

We’d never have won without all your comments, so thanks to everyone for making the site a success! And here are the best comments from this week…

Orange puts its prices up

Cheeky Orange has been sending out texts to customers informing them of a 4% price rise – and it isn’t even allowing customers to cancel if they’re unhappy. And many people are very unhappy, like Darren:

‘Just got the text. What an absolute disgrace. I’m not one for complaining but this has tipped me beyond normality. Unfortunately I have nine months left on my two-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?’

Ofcom told us that customers will only be able to cancel if the changes are likely to be of ‘material detriment’, something that riled Andy:

‘Pay frozen and has been for two years. Low paid admin job. This ‘nominal’ price rise is a major issue for me. My wife and I are both on Orange and we struggle to make ends meet as it is. How can a price hike in the middle of a recession not cause material detriment?’

IEA: Scrap minimum wage to tackle youth unemployment

Last week the government announced a £1bn scheme to get unemployed young people working again, but Mark Littlewood of the Institute of Economic Affairs believes scrapping the minimum wage is a better way to tackle the issue. Frugal Ways can see sense in this view:

‘When I started work at 15, I was on low wages, with age and experience this slowly increased. After 17 years of work, the minimum wage was introduced. I was training staff how to do various jobs/tasks and they were being paid a few pennies an hour less than I was. It was demoralising.’

But others, like Olivia, felt very strongly that the minimum wage should stay:

‘I am appalled at this suggestion. The minimum wage is there for a reason, it is not a figure plucked from obscurity it is a figure that represents the amount someone would need to earn so as to not be living beneath the poverty line. The UK is still one of the richest countries in the world and so I find the suggestion of scrapping the minimum wage absolutely baffling.’

Buggy smartphones are stinging early adopters

Mark says we should accept that smartphones will come with faults:

‘When you’re dealing with this level of technological sophistication there will be bugs. They’re just unavoidable. Of course, they shouldn’t be deal-breaking, but you simply have to accept reality. Or a company can wait longer to release their product… and by that time a competitor has stepped in and stolen the thunder.’

However, William thinks companies should put customers’ needs first:

‘The only reason companies release things without adequate testing is they simply don’t care about their customers or they have too high opinion of themselves. People should vote with their wallets.’

Will the Autumn Statement impact your pocket?

The Chancellor’s Autumn Statement arrives in austere times this week, but how will it affect you? Here are John’s views on the change to pension age:

‘The rise in the pension age to 67 probably reflects the fact that a high percentage of people nowadays do not start pensionable employment and make pension contributions until they are 22. Maybe the point when people can get a state pension should be related only to the number of years of pension contribution (45 perhaps) so that those who start contributing early could still retire at 63.’

Don’t drive youngsters off the roads

Why are insurers calling for far-fetched restrictions on young drivers, asks Claire Evans. Tpoots had an idea about how to make the restrictions fairer:

‘I’ll put my hand up and say I’m a young driver. Whilst I agree that something needs to be done to keep accidents amongst young drivers low, I do not think imposing restrictions is the best thing to do.

‘Perhaps a better solution would be to still implement restrictions but instead offer the ability for a young driver to remove them by completing an advanced driving course (which should be subsidised). This would also help to boost confidence amongst young drivers and teach them better driving skills.’

Companies should treat Facebook complaints like any other

Why do some companies start Facebook pages and then fail to provide decent customer service on them, asks Nikki Whiteman? Paul from Ecotricity explained how Facebook needs to improve first, and is this week’s commenter of the week:

‘Facebook could do a lot more to help businesses adopt it as a serious support channel, like enable notifications for comments for pages. I don’t want an email every time I get a Farmville invite, but I do want an email every time someone comments on our Facebook page.’

Comments have been edited due to length, so make sure to read them in full on their relevant Convos (by clicking on the red title link).

Andy Seal says:
2 December 2011

Regarding Orange :
I went into the store and it was put to me that Orange may be trying to flush out everyone on old contracts to upgrade to new; apparently some are reluctant to do so. Anyone who entered a new contract since April is immune to the price rises as they are already built in from then.
On a related issue when I pre-ordered the iPhone4s I joined Orange from O2 based on a ‘perk’ discount of 25% on the tariff. This was double checked at the time. As you can probably guess the discount was missing on my first bill and, according to the store, on everyone else’s bill who was offered the discount. The store have contacted Orange, who admit the mistake, but will only refund at the end of the 24 month contract – about 22 months from now. Surely, they have no right to do this. What do you guys think?

Anon the mouse says:
3 December 2011

Regarding Orange price hike,
Could you get your lawyer that said it was “probably legal” to have a look at OFT v Ashbourne [2011] EWHC 1237 (Ch). Specifically 123 -126.
My understanding of that judgement in general and that section in particular is that as the term was not given due prominence and customers signed in good faith and is detrimental to the consumer under UTCCR it is an unfair term and not legal.

OFT’s bulletins show that terms that increase cost but are buried within terms and conditions should at a minimum be in bold text and definitely in a relevant section such as 8.3 Service plan.
Since when was putting increasing costs under a Termination heading fair and in good faith?

Unfortunately no one at Orange will step outside of a very tightly controlled script. Even email gets the same cut and paste response.

[Hi Anon, We have edited the emails out of your comment, as we don’t encourage posting personal contact information. Thanks, mods.]