Cancelling your Orange contract - a troubleshooting guide
UPDATE 12/08: Orange has now scrapped the ToS change following consumer upset and cancellations. Read full update and official statement here.
UPDATE 08/08/09: Comments as of late Friday indicate Orange are now refusing to cancel contracts if you did not go over contract allowance in the last 3 months. We will be contacting Ofcom and taking legal advice Monday and will post a response. More here.
So the good news is Orange have given you the perfect excuse to cancel your Orange contract - they're increasing the charges for minutes used beyond your allowance and other services from mid-September. The better news is that, judging by your comments, plenty of you are managing to do so without too much bother. The bad news is that for others, Orange customer services are telling outright lies and refusing to help.
Remember that you're not attempting to scam Orange; contracts are there to protect both parties concerned, not just the bigger of the two. If the terms and conditions allow you to cancel, Orange have no right to prevent you from doing so
Below is a troubleshooting guide for dealing with customer services, to help you through some of the scenarios you may find yourself in when attempting to cancel:
You're told the changes won't effect you because you don't currently exceed your monthly allowance of minutes
It doesn't matter whether you currently exceed your allowance or not, because the contract you agreed with Orange doesn't consider changes causing material detriment to you - i.e. whether it will increase your average bill. What your Orange contract actually says is:
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 other words, it is your right to go over your allowance of minutes without paying more than you previously agreed to. Like voting and free speech, whether you choose to exercise this right is up to you, but Orange have agreed they cannot make changes that affect your rights without your agreement.
Action to take
Tell the operator that while you may not currently exceed your allowance, it's your right to do so, and that this is clearly stated in your Orange contract. Read the clause to the operator if you need to.
"Just cancelled my contact with 13months to go. no fees. operator did try the “but you don't use all your allowance so it doesn't effect you." I gave the stock reply of “but i might want to go over my allowance in the future." Her reply was “No problem, when would you like the contact to finish?" Result and I get to keep the phone." Ed-209
You're told you can only cancel if you've received a text message informing you of the changes - if you haven't, you can't
From what we can tell, the changes in charges are for all pay monthly contracts that commenced sometime after the end of May. A text message has been sent to some (but seemingly not all) customers informing them of the changes. Some customers are being told that if they haven't received the text then either a) they can't cancel, or b) they aren't eligible to cancel, or c) they will have to wait until they receive a text.
Let's take a quick look at two points in the contract:
4.3 In such cases [of wishing to terminate your contract] 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).
16.1 We regard you as having been given any information if it is either:
a) included in a mailing addressed to you
b) by voicemail, email text or other form of electronic message sent by us to your Device
c) communicated directly by any means.
What this means is that if changes are been made that affect your contract, then you don't need to receive a text - an operator communicating the changes directly over the phone is sufficient.
Action to take
If you've been told that you can only cancel if you've received a text, then politely ask: "Will the increases in call charges affect me?"
If the answer is no, then ask why not. Get a specific reason - it may be addressed by another point in this guide. You might be told you don't exceed your minute allowance, for example - in which case, see above.
If the answer is yes, then point out clause 16.1 of your Orange contract states that you can be informed of the changes by any agreed method, which includes direct communication with Orange. You've just been informed of the changes over the phone, and so you don't need to receive a text.
However, some comments have suggested that Orange are deliberately staggering the texts, which means there may be a valid reason as to why you haven't received one yet. If the operator still refuses and requests you wait until a text is sent, ask for a specific date when the text will be sent. It has to be before mid-August so you have 30 days to give notice. Agree that if you don't receive it on this date, that you can call back and cancel. Take the operator's full name and then ask for a note to be put on your account. If you have to call back again, point out that Orange are already in breach of contract by refusing to let you cancel.
"Spoke to CS and quoted the price increase saying that I'd heard it from a friend. They confirmed that the increase would affect me BUT, I had to wait until I had received a text as they have a “system" in place which means that those who have received the text will be able to cancel without the danger of still being charged the rest of the contract. I didn't believe this and told her so but she was insistent that I had to wait for a text." Theo
You're told you can only cancel your contract after the changes come into effect
This is just plain wrong. It is a lie, full stop. The contract states:
15.1 If you do not give notice within one month of our notifying you of any change(s), you will be taken to have accepted the change(s).
Therefore, if Orange do not accept your notice of cancellation and you wait until after the changes occur, you have no right to cancel.
Action to take
If you are told this, read clause 15.1 to the operator. Tell them you wish to give notice now, and by making you wait until after the changes occur they are in breach on contract.
You're told you can cancel, but you have to return your handset
Again, utter bollocks:
14.1 your Device is not a part of your Contract
Your Device and Accessories are acquired by you outside the terms of your Contract.
It's as simple as that, really.
Action to take
If you are told this, read clause 14.1 to the operator.
You're told you can cancel, but you can't have your PAC code
Orange don't want your business going elsewhere and so are deliberately putting obstacles in your way. This includes planting the seed that you might lose your current mobile number - after all, you may have used that number for years.
Judging by the comments from Bitterwallet readers, Orange are telling plenty of customers they can't have their PAC code (allowing them to transfer your number to another network). This is another lie. Unless there are complex issues with an account, Orange are required to transfer a customer's number within 2 business days of being asked to.
Action to take
Point out that Ofcom guidelines state that Orange are required to transfer your number - if you don't currently have another service provider, then this means they must provide a PAC code for you to give to your next provider.
If they still refuse, point out they are in breach of Ofcom guidelines and you'll be making a complaint. Or suggest they call an Ofcom specialist advisor on 0300 123 3333.
The Orange operator is rude and refuses to help
If your operator isn't interested in listening and becomes increasingly rude, politely thank them for their time and end the call. The reality is that some agents are courteous and helpful, while others don't care much for you or what you may have read on the internet, and will treat you like rebel scum.
Action to take
It's a lottery who'll take your call - there are dozens of operators, and they don't get to choose which calls they take - so if at first you don't succeed, try again.
"Got mine cancelled this morning but it took 3 calls. The first rep went through my call records and checked whether I'd gone over my inclusive minutes in the last 3 months - I hadn't so she said I wasn't eligible to cancel. The second asked me for the ref number of the text I got - I didn't have it to hand so I hung up and checked back -the only number on the text was 2472 so I made a note.
"The third rep was very friendly, put me on hold for a few minutes, came back and told me I could cancel and asked me if I wanted a PAC number. I did so had to take a months notice (no probs with that - gives me time to find a better deal). Then got asked how I heard about charges changes - said I got text - was asked what number text came from. Also got asked when I got the text. All was fine; expecting PAC in post at weekend.
"Keep trying but don't bother trying to argue it, just politely leave the call, you just need to get the right person." Grunthos