Ridiculous roaming charge causes rage at Orange

7 March 2011

Bitterwallet - Orange call centreThis news in from our international bureau in Zurich, where avid Bitterwallet reader Sam is larking about in the snow:

I am writing to you from the sunny Swiss Alps, but unfortunately our group's holiday has been tarnished by an unlikely culprit - Orange. On arrival in Switzerland we discovered to our annoyance that our friend's phone was not working. Assuming that this was just an oversight on the part of Orange, she called their customer service department to ask them to enable overseas usage.

They responded by saying that they would require a deposit of £150, repayable at the end of the term of the contract.

Apparently my friend was supposed to explicitly inform Orange at the time of taking out the contract that she would require overseas usage. At this point they would have done a special credit check that would have determined whether she was authorised for overseas usage. This credit check is apparently not possible after the contract has been made.

She pays by direct debit. She has never been late paying a bill, yet Orange maintain that this is standard practice across all providers. I've had contracts with all 4 major mobile providers and have never experienced this, and my girlfriend currently has a contract with Orange and is able to use her phone abroad, despite never explicitly telling them that she would be going abroad.

A £150 deposit that's only repayable at the end of the contract? That's no small amount of cash for the ability to make calls from abroad. It's not a condition that Bitterwallet readers have told us about before, so we contacted Orange to find out more.

Can other customers expect a similar shock when travelling outside the UK?

When a brand new customer takes a contract out with Orange, they aren’t automatically eligible for roaming abroad. This is standard across the mobile industry as roaming is seen to be an additional product and is therefore subject to the credit status of a customer, establishing an account history etc.

When a customer has been with Orange for three months, their status is reviewed and they will be provided with international roaming if they have paid their bills within the terms etc.

If a customer wants to roam before the three months, they may be required to pay a refundable £150 deposit as security for Orange to cover their usage.

Surely a customer paying by direct debit would have been subjected to a credit check before the contract was agreed by Orange? Regardless, watch out if you're planning on switching providers before travelling this summer, and let us know if you've found yourself in a similar position.

TOPICS:   Travel   Mobile


  • xpag
    My wife was in Europe and found that roaming was not enabled on her phone. She phoned the orange customer help line and they enabled it there and then - no charge, no hassle. She has been with them for ages though.
  • Ace
    Having worked for Orange I have to say that this is standard practice and only the people very low credit scores would have to pay. It is clearly offered on the contracts as an option so I don't see what the big deal is here. If the person in question had a bad credit history then it's their own fault!
  • b0b
    I have the fortunate to travel with work and have been to a variety of European countries and the Americas and have never had any problems with using 3, Vodaphone or T-Mobile in that time and certainly never had to inform them I was travelling or contacting them to enable overseas roaming. Not sure its a widespread practice in the mobile industry
  • robstar
    I agree with Ace, it sounds like a credit score issue. When I was 18 and signed up for my first mobile contract, I was asked to pay £150 deposit, although it was refunded after 3 months of bill payments. Waiting until the end of your contract seems a bit excessive, was she sure that was the case and not just until she had had the phone for 3 months?
  • The B.
    Oui, oui, oui Mr Orange, je l'aime quand vous me baiser le cul.
  • Aquatic
    Ridiculous article really - implying this is a charge is wrong for a start - a deposit yes, a deposit that you get back. If it was a charge you wouldn't. Having worked for two mobile networks including Orange I know that it is standard and that the deposit required varies depending on the percieved credit risk. Orange will hold the deposit for 12 months or if you deactivate roaming when you return home, for the 3 months following. This 3 months is because it can take up to that length of time for some roaming networks to inform of charges.
  • steve b.
    As far as I'm aware, this is standard and has been going on for years. I'd be more interested in hearing how Orange are going to work down their outrageous data roaming charges.
  • CJN
    We got an Orange pay as you go sim to use in Spain in a spare phone, it would not accept calls from Vodaphone accounts of Spanish friends, after several phone calls to try and fix it we gave up the fight. ORANGE are rubbish
  • Ten B.
    [...] Ridiculous roaming charge causes rage at Orange [...]
  • codify
    Not a big deal, if you are a chav with a low credit rating, it's reasonable for Orange to want a deposit before you start ringing the X Factor voteline 500 times from Magaluf
  • GG15
    I have just called Orange as I came back from abroad and I could not use roaming at all. I had no network whatsoever. I was asked to pay £300 deposit to enable roaming on my phone. It is a complete madness! There is absolutely no reason to set up a deposit system on customers. Perhaps the Orange staff should inform new customers of such 'surprises'. It can really annoy someone BIG TIME, particularly if you are going abroad in business!

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