Important: The latest updates on this post can be found at this blog post.
Older updates remain on this page.
UPDATE 2: 19:12 3rd March
Orange lied to me.
I have just topped up by £10 to test and only received £10 (not £10.25) I've been moved onto the phone fund after all (a text from them after confirmed it). I've sent Orange a nasty complaint and asked them not to bother phoning me back or contact me. I'm now choosing my new plan with another network - the next time I contact them will be to get my moving code.
UPDATE: 3:09 1st Feb
Orange UK called me a couple of hours ago to fix things. The nice lady at Orange UK confirmed what I wanted to do (to keep receiving my tax as phone air time credit, not as a phone fund), put me on hold and explained it to the call centre, then transferred me across. The call centre lady then spent 5-10 minutes or so in total (with me on hold - not a problem as I wasn't paying :) ) to process the requests - I was informed that this needed some special attention (I can't remember the exact wording she used, but basically she needed to speak to someone who could implement/authorise the change to my pay as you go service plans).
This has been put through - I'll keep an eye out after Feb 11th to see if it worked!
To sum up, if you want to do the same put an email through the Orange system from their website, tell them you do not want the expense of you calling 450 customer representative (25p) to fix something you didn't want, and ask for a call back. If you still have any problems drop me a comment on this blog or on Money Saving Expect Forums where there are some posts on this issue.
Good on Orange for sorting this out quickly - I hope other readers will have the same success!
--- Original Post follows ---
I don't usually use this blog to complain, but this is one issue that gets up my nose and other people should be made aware of it - Orange is (in my personal opinion) ripping off pay-as-you-go customers out of a tax rebate.
Orange has recently sent me the text message
Hi from Orange. From 11 Feb, every £10 top-up gets you £1 towards a new phone with Orange Phone Fund. This replaces the VAT adjustment. See orange.co.uk/fund
At first I thought cool - I can get a free phone in a few years. What the text doesn't tell you (and is in the more detailed print at orange.co.uk/fund) is that the fund is restricted to £200 and all funds accumulated reset after a year. Oh and you need to purchase the phone with Orange direct.
Yes, basically to get a £200 phone you need to spend £2000 in a year, even a budget phone is ~£1000.
So I complained via the Orange website that I was annoyed that they had automatically opted me in for a new plan for my two pay-as-you-go phones, yet I would never see any benefit because my phone purchase cycle is an environmentally friendly 8-10 years, and I would rather have the 25p on every £10 added to my account as had been done.
I received the quick response (within a couple of hours):
Thank you for your email regarding the Phone Fund.
I am pleased to advise provide a better service for our customers and to give you better value for your money Orange Phone Fund will award you 10% back for every top-up made.
So if you top your phone up by £10 we will give you £1 towards your phone Fund, this gives you four times the benefit of the extra VAT credit.
Your Phone Fund builds over a maximum of 12 months with each top-up, until you decide to buy a new phone.
You can get a new phone by calling 450 or going to an Orange shop to cash in the fund towards the cost of the new phone. The maximum value of the new phone is £200.
However, if you feel that you would rather have the money as airtime on this occasion we can arrange for the credit to be applied back to your account. Please note that this would be at the rate of 25 pence (equivalent to the 2.5% VAT back) for every £10 topped up from 11 February 2009 and you would have to call 450 from your Orange handset or 07973100450 from a landline where one of our representatives will be pleased to help you.
For further information on terms and conditions please visit the link below:
Please be advised that the answers to many common queries can be found in the Frequently Asked Questions section in the Help and Support option on the Home page of our website www.orange.co.uk
I trust the above is of assistance and sorry for any inconvenience caused.
Orange Customer Services
So basically I have to phone Orange to fix their problem.
So I rang up, went through the automated system to the final option 4 which is to speak to a customer service representative. At this point I was told I would be charged a "one off fee of 25p" - yes, that's right folks, now I would be paying for their error. I hung up the phone before it connected.
It then occurred to me, this is an Orange rep, at Orange telling me how I should fix a problem at Orange, i.e. it was deliberately scripted stock response, so I fired back a reply email:
Hi Wendy/Customer Services,
Thanks for your quick feedback. I cannot understand why the onus is on me and why *I* need to phone Orange to put right a situation Orange have created, when the information to fix it was contained in the first email (please see case number in email header for reference).
Nonetheless I have called Orange, got through the automated system to option 4, to be told I would be charged a one off fee of 25p to talk to customer representative. Is this some kind of scam to extort money? I did not go through with the process because of this however I am quite happy for a customer service representative to call me (with no reverse fee charge) on
if it is a matter of the DPA.
Please can you either rectify this internally at Orange (rather than telling me how I can fix it) or call me directly on the aforementioned number. I should not be being charged, no matter the amount, or wasting anymore of my time putting right an *Orange* problem. If this cannot be arranged by yourself O2 are quite willing to give me free £30 pay as you go credit if I move my actual numbers over, and £60 (I have two phones) is looking very atractive at the moment.
Thank you for your assistance with this matter,
I have not received any further response or any calls from Orange, but that's okay. My next calls, which will cost me money will be to receive PAC codes to move my two phone numbers to get free 2x£30 credit with O2's move number feature, help move my finacée's number next month (whose Orange contract ends then anyway), and provide my parents with some free sims (curtesy of O2's free sims page)
Yes this may be overkill for £6-£18 extra credit on my phones a year, but it's the principals of:
- Changing my T&Cs without consultation to my detriment
- Poor customer service
- Onus on me to fix their problem (and wasting about 2 "person" hours in the process)
- Financial loss
- Large financial gain of moving to O2