Orange upgrade their handset prices for loyal customer
Assuming you want to stay with the same service provider at the end of your mobile contract, how much will it cost you to upgrade your handset? Depending exactly when you ask can mean prices increasing by an astronomical amount - that's according to one longtime Orange customer and avid Bitterwallet reader.
Says Steve (not his real name):
I'm nearing the end of my 18 month contract with Orange. I don't pay them much, and I don't use the phone much but I've been on contract with Orange for about ten years now and am happy with the service I get. So far.
Eagerly anticipating my new phone, I logged onto the Orange website several weeks ago, to see what options I had. I can't actually upgrade until the end of this week (that'll be 15 months into my 18 months contract) but I wanted to see what my options were. I made a note of which phones were available and how much I'd have to pay for them - with a view to checking reviews of them all at a later date.
A couple weeks later I again checked my upgrade options, and was pleased to see a few had dropped in price. For instance, the Motorola DEXT had been showing as available for £4.99 but was now showing as free. Nice, I thought - I wonder how much they'll drop in price in the next month or so?
As Steve's spreadsheet shows, something occurred to Orange's handset pricing in October - with the exception of one, every handset that Steve was keeping tabs on jumped in price; the cost of upgrading to the Motorola DEXT, for example, increased from free in September to £229.99 in October:
I have no idea whether the Motorola DEXT is any good, but if Orange think I'm going to pay £230 for a phone that they've previously indicated will be given to me for free then they're sadly mistaken.
I don't know if they bumped all prices up for all customers in October, or if it's their practice to increase prices for everyone a couple of weeks before they're up for renewal, and I've not spoken to them about it - but I'll definitely be shopping around before committing to my next contract.
We spoke to Orange to shed some light on what might have happened. Their spokesperson could not comment on individual accounts, but pointed out that it's not unusual for handset prices to change as newer models are released. We pointed out that nearly all the prices in question had increased, rather than decreased (which is what you'd expect as newer handsets replace older models), and were then told that if a customer's average monthly bill drops immediately before an upgrade is due, this can adversely affect the cost of upgrading.
This led to a more obvious question - are upgrade customers charged different amounts depending on their spend, to which the answer was yes; there is no fixed ratecard when it comes to upgrades - it's purely down to how much Orange think you should pay. That suggests it's possible to negate a high-cost upgrade by running up your monthly bill a little higher than usual. Have any other readers had experience of shifting upgrade prices?