8/12/2009 4:27:00 PM
Orange makes late U-Turn on plans to treble minimum call charges
Orange has made an eleventh hour decision not to implement plans to increase ‘out of bundle’ minimum call charges, including the trebling of minimum call charge prices and increasing the cost of international calls.
The operator had texted customers last week to inform them of the increased rates, which it said would be introduced from September 14th. However, Orange informed Mobile this morning (Wednesday) that all plans have been shelved for the immediate future because some customers found the changes ‘confusing’.
Orange’s plans to implement the new rates were also complicated because the changes created a contractual loophole which allowed customers to terminate their contracts for free if their bills were likely to be significantly increased by the changes.
A section that appears in Orange’s consumer contracts entitled: ‘Terminating your contract because Orange has changed the terms’, reads:
‘You may 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.’
Mobile is informed by retail staff that some customers who only recently signed up for contracts offering heavily subsidised high-end handsets had been allowed by Orange to walk away from their contracts, yet still keep their free, brand new handsets.
Meanwhile, Phones 4u messaged staff last week on the company’s intranet system warning them to avoid encouraging customers to walk out of their contracts and that anyone found doing so would be ‘dealt with accordingly’.
An Orange spokeswoman said the u-turn was made because the changes were not communicated strongly enough by Orange. She said:
‘In listening to our customers it became clear that some of them found the messages sent to announce these changes confusing about who would be affected and how. This is obviously not our intention and therefore we have decided not to go ahead with the proposed changes.
‘It is normal practice for businesses to make pricing changes, and whilst we clearly cannot rule out any future changes we know that transparency and consistency in our policies is extremely important to our customers.
‘Orange apologises to those customers who found the messages unclear and any subsequent misunderstanding this has caused. We will be reviewing all policies and procedures for price changes to make sure that they are clearer in future.’
The planned pricing changes
Minimum call charge for users who exceed their inclusive minutes
Was 5p / Now 15p
International calls prices
Most of Europe - Was 45p / Now 60p
Most of rest of world - Was 90p / Now £1
Mobile browsing charges
Was: Rising rate based on number of MB used, max charge per day £1.50
Now: Flat rate of 60p per day