Orange upgrade their handset prices for loyal customer

4 November 2010

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:
Bitterwallet - Orange handset upgrades

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?

TOPICS:   Gadgets

8 comments

  • Dave
    If you're that interested in the Motorola Dext, get it from Orange on PAYG for £149.99 and then go sim only No 18 month contract, cheaper than upgrading, plus not tied or orange, can unlock and go elsewhere
  • David
    Best thing to do is to cancel the contract near the end. And sign up as a new customer. Better deals and done this twice now without fail.
  • paul
    Yep. Never renew a contract. Always cancel and get new contract.
  • I b.
    "Yep. Never renew a contract. Always cancel and get new contract. Surely the smart thing to do is establish the upgrade price and compare against new contract. I've found that I can get a renewal that matches my needs more specifically than an off the shelf new contract. Ie, more mins, less texts etc.
  • Darren
    As an EX o2 Trainer, there is nothing strange here, if you know you have 3 months left then spend like crazy on your mobile, O2 would take your last 3 months spend, work out the average and this is then referenced to a chart, IE customer average spend of £150... most handest free, average spend of £45 then most handsets will be extortianate.... Also, dont take the upgrades person offer, have a go at getting a deal and then just say you wish to go ahead with the cancellation, the cancellation team have more power to offer better deals, and most are personalised... O2 forums regular feature peoples offers with the persons name and direct dial... always good to call them and ask for the offer they just offfered to joe blog......
  • BK
    simple... end of quarter targets... prices will drop again end of dec
  • JimmyStrident
    Orange upgrades are given bandings, from 1 to 5. The higher the banding, the lower the cost of a phone upgrade. What has likely happened here is that he's gone from a higher banding to a lower banding between checking upgrade prices.
  • Andy W.
    This is exactly what has happened to me. I have been checking the site regularly and also checked just before my upgrade was due on 14th April (I wasn't eligible for an upgrade until 17th April) and all that time the price of the Nokia N8 was free. On the day I was eligible I logged in and couldn't believe what I was looking at. The N8 now shows as:- usual price: £49.99 discounted price: £9.99 In other words, they are falsely claiming that the N8 used to be £49.99 and that I will be saving money when in fact the opposite is the truth, I will be paying more for the phone than the price they were advertising to me a few days ago. As for my monthly spend, I never exceed my monthly allowance so it has been constant at £40/month for 18 months. I am going to report Orange to the Trading Standards people and only regret not taking a screen shot of the prices before the hike.

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