Ridiculous roaming charge causes rage at Orange
This 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.