Update (25/04/2013): Orange will say you've got no right to cancel. Take them to court. Orange will call me a liar. Ask them to respond to my offer to discuss this. They won't. They know they're wrong.
Update (18/04/2013): Success is possible, just look at Jamie Akers' emails, but you need to be willing to take Orange to the small claims court. I'm sorry it's not easy but Orange do not seem to be run by honest or honourable men or women.
Update (05/04/2013): Another success! Check it out here.
Update (04/04/2013): Orange have removed their October 2012 Terms and Conditions from their site. I saved it here.
Update (27/03/2013): You asked and I provided. Here's a proforma email for you to add your name to and send by email to Orange (firstname.lastname@example.org) requesting the immediate cancellation of your contract. Download it now and add your name.
First of all, a massive thank to Jamie Akers for tirelessly hounding Orange (EverythingEverywhere) about this. A lot of the steps here are things he's shared with me and I am passing on.
Secondly. If you signed your current Orange contract on the 1st of November 2012 or later, you don't have a good chance of getting anything from Orange. Get angry by all means, switch provider as soon as possible, but don't waste your time on it. Although they never admitted liability in court, EverythingEverywhere's actions make clear that they believe clause 4.3.1 in their pre-November 2012 T&Cs denying customers their contractual right to cancel (and keep their phone) in the event of Orange raising their prices, was unenforceable. They've now updated that clause. I've updated the Wikipedia site on this incident to explain this if you don't want to read the rest of this site. What EverythingEverywhere are doing is wrong. I urge you to write to your MP or visit them to make this point and compel them to take action on your behalf.
Now the good news. If you took out your contract before the middle of October I am pretty confident that you can force Orange to give you a substantial discount or let you cancel your contract with no penalty. You can keep your phone and get a much cheaper sim-only deal, saving yourself hundreds of pounds like in the many testimonials on this site. The key point is spelled out further down this page but let's recap briefly here. The original clause 4.3.1 in your contract did not mention inflation. It did not mention RPI. It referred only to the Central Statistical Office, an organisation that has not existed since 1996! Orange can't force small-print on you if they can't get their small-print right!
Let me repeat. TO MY KNOWLEDGE, ORANGE HAVE ALWAYS SETTLED!!! You might have to threaten to take them to small claims court for the full value of the contract you continue to pay under protest, but nobody has contacted me saying they tried and lost against Orange. I've had lots of people contact me saying they've won!
So, what should you do? Here's the latest success which Orange have given permission to share. Read it, copy it and contact Orange referring to it by email or phone. Don't back down. Remind them that they've settled with plenty of others and you want out of your contract or a substantially better deal. Don't even accept them undoing the price rise - you're entitled to leave your contract and keep your phone. That's valuable. Remember, you're just excercising your right under Clause 4.3 of the contract you signed. This is the third time that Orange/EverythingEverywhere have done this. Unless people start threatening them, using the law against them, and complaining to the MPs who can hold them to account they will continue doing this. We must stop them.
One last thing. I don't have an Orange contract. I sign as few contracts as possible precisely because the law favours people who can afford to hire lawyers and I can't. But the UK is a great country. If you work, fight and struggle, the law won't always beat you. Once you've taught Orange/EverythingEverywhere the lesson they need to learn, switch to someone else and tell your friends and family to do the same. There are great sim-free Nokia Lumia and Samsung Galaxy smartphones for just over £100 unlocked. If you've finished a contract and are still happy with your phone, get it unlocked and keep it. The deals you can get if you shop around for sim-only deals are incredible!
Thanks to everyone who's contacted me and encouraged me to play a small part in standing up to this bully of a company. Orange have been frequently dishonest, rude and misleading: I'm glad that the people who perservered have won. I particularly appreciate those who used this site to get back money from Orange which they then donated to charity.
UPDATE (11/03/2013): If you're angry about the 2013 Orange Price rise and your current contract started before 01/11/2012 then I'm pretty sure you can cancel your contract. That means you can keep your phone and get a much cheaper sim-only deal. It boils down to the fact that EverythingEveryhwere changed clause 4.3.1 without informing you and the change is, as you can read below, definitely of material detriment to you. Clause 4.3 means you can cancel. I will write more about this in the coming days when I get time and I have a friend who I hope to run a test case with. Please remember that last time no-one got much from Orange without threatening to go to court. Once people threatened, Orange always (to my knowledge) settled out of court. They're worried about this, so worried they changed their T&Cs last time. By all means harrass them and let them know how upset you are but if you really want to discourage them from doing this in the future, get ready to file a small claim. It's not that hard and I'll put full instructions up in the coming days.
UPDATE (09/03/2013): In 2013 EverythingEverywhere are doing this again, so let me summarise what happened last time and why this time it's different. In 2012, Orange settled with everyone who took them to court. Nobody lost in court and nobody who took the case to court gave up without some compensation. Thousands of pounds were recovered from EverythingEverywhere and much of it was donated to charity.
This time it's different because Orange have updated clause 4.3.1 of their Monthly Contract such that it no longer refers to a non-existent figure published by a non-existent government body. Of course they've never admitted that it was wrong before but unfortunately in the UK no such thing as a class action lawsuit exists so we couldn't take Orange to court to prove that. Small claims proceedings don't set precedent so Orange were never shown to be wrong and OFCOM, the people who could have taken it to court, were too ineffective to do anything.
Given that OFCOM and CISAS did nothing last time I doubt they'll do anything this time and EverythingEverywhere are obviously not worried because this price rise comes during an OFCOM investigation into exactly this problem.
My suggestions is to write to your MP and urge them to apply pressure on OFCOM to make recommendations to stop this happening in the future. I'm afraid that's no help now. In the long run my suggestion is to buy your own smartphone outright or unlock it at the end of your current contract and use it on a month by month pay monthly sim-only deal. I'm on giff-gaff but 3 offer great deals too.
In the end the only customer pressure that companies understand is the threat to leave. Signing a contract removes your right to do that since the law will always favour the big company over the consumer. Don't sign contracts, buy your own unlocked and keep searching for a better deal. That's my advice.
Best wishes and good luck,
UPDATE (02/02/2012) : I've finally got round to updating the site. Successes so far are patchy but include a reduction from £25/month to £10/month, here, a whole family released from their contracts with no penalty, here and here and Jay in the comments who saved over £500 getting out of Orange contracts without penalty by using this advice. Of course, Orange won't admit liability and won't discuss individual cases where they have offered "goodwill gestures". See below for details of what we are still doing and keep going!
UPDATE (02/02/2012) : Did you know that the words/phrases "RPI", "Retail Prices Index" and "inflation" never appear in Orange's Terms & Conditions. Weird how they expected customers's to know they could raise tariffs by RPI inflation isn't it?
At the end of November 2011 Orange started sending texts to customers with a monthly contract signed before September of that year that read.
" Hi from Orange. We're increasing the price of your monthly plan by 4.34% from 8 January 2012. For more information please visit orange.co.uk/planupdate "
A lot of people are not pleased that a level of payment that they agreed to at a fixed level are going to have to pay more for exactly the same service. Probably the best coverage I could find was at moneysavingexpert.com and at which.co.uk and others agree since large quotes from that site are rehashed by adding some outraged tweets as a Telegraph article or through the addition of a 3D effect screenshot as a CNET article. All of these sites provide forums for customers to share experiences but none has got close to saving a single penny; this site has already saved nearly £1000!
If I went to an Orange shop to buy a phone the monthly tariffs would be described to me as being for the duration of the contract. Orange sales staff and adverts don't clearly say "we can, and will, raise your tariffs whenever we like" and so it's unfair to raise existing tariffs. We rightly assume that things will not change price after they've been sold!
Let's forget whether it's fair or not, I don't think Orange have the legal right to do this. Let's look at Orange's legal argument,
Orange are justifying refusing cancellations based on two clauses within their Ts&Cs, 4.3 and 15.1. Clause 15.1 is not important to this, it just refers back to 4.3. Clause 4.3 is the important one so let's look at it,
" 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 such cases 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). However this option does not apply if:
4.3.1 we have increased the Charges by an amount equal to or less than the percentage increase in the All Items Index of Retail Prices published by the Central Statistical Office in the Monthly Digest of Statistics in any 12 month period; "
According to Clause 4.3, you can cancel your contract without penalty if you don't agree with an increase in your agreed tariff since this is clearly to your detriment. Orange say that clause 4.3.1 lets them raise their tariffs by up to RPI inflation without allowing customers to cancel and that's what they're doing. But there's a problem here. The Central Statistical Office was closed in 1996 and they haven't produced a Monthly Digest of Statistics since then. Yes, The Office for National Statistics took over the role of that office and produces similar statistics but Orange's Ts&Cs don't say "or similar" or "by the successor" in reference to the RPI figures in this clause 4.3.1. Furthermore the Ts&Cs were written well after the Central Statistical Office ceased to exist so it's not a valid defence for Orange to say that they just wrote their Ts&Cs with respect to the legal bodies that existed at the time. Even more damningly, Orange's Ts&Cs do not contain the word "inflation", "RPI" or "Retail Prices Index" anywhere.
See the results at the top of the page for real advice on how to get out of your contract, the following advice is what's officially recommended and why it hasn't been working so far.
1. Complain to Orange. You're welcome to use or borrow from the letters I sent on 05/12/2011 available here (.docx) and also as an .rtf file. The address is Orange Customer Services, PO Box 10, Patchway, Bristol, BS32 4BQ. They probably won't respond until you ring because they don't want any records of what they say. Eventually you'll be escaled to the executive office who'll give you a response like this, using words like "inflation" and "RPI" that aren't in their Terms & Conditions. If you keep ringing they may offer you something, like in the examples, but they won't ever accept liability.
2. Contact the Communications and Internet Services Adjudication Scheme (CISAS, www.cisas.org.uk) and ask them to mediate a solution. Despite the fact that they've already ruled on exactly this case, see case 5 here. I was told on the phone from Orange that CISAS had agreed with Orange and OFCOM before the price rise that they wouldn't deal with this case and they're sticking with their collusion. You can see them saying that because Orange are breaking the law as part of a business decision it's okay, here and here. Pathetic!
3. Go to court. It seems likely that the Clause 4.3.1 is simple enough for the Small Claims Court to decide on. I'll start posting "Particulars of Claim" information and a guide on how to do this once we get here. There's also some good ideas and information in the comments but at the moment I don't have an Orange contract that I can take to court. If anyone has one they'd like to try with I'd be happy to help, just sent me an email.
For a while we had a backup plan revolving around Ofcom's general condition 9.3 (pdf). It seems Ofcom don't want to do their job so this doesn't seem worth pursuing at the moment. I'll keep hassling them, but I doubt you'll get anywhere without going to court and even then it'll be a very difficult case to argue; you're unlikely to win against Orange's expensive lawyers.
Orange have about 500 pages of terms and conditions spread out over about 160 documents in a variety of formats. They don't read them or update them properly since they still refer to government bodies that don't exist. It's offensive that they expect their customers to read this amount of crap.
Their excuse that inflation means they need to raise existing tariffs just doesn't make sense. A mobile phone company operating in the UK has four principal costs.
1. advertising and
2. licensing spectrum,
3. providing handsets to subscribers,
4. building and maintaining cell towers and back-end infrastructure.
For existing customers all four of these costs were already paid by Orange before you started your contract. Orange can justify higher tariffs for new customers using new spectrum and newer handsets but existing customers have already paid the price for their service; Orange are treating us like idiots.
In July 2010, T-mobile UK and Orange UK merged to become EverythingEverywhere with promises to provide, "better value and better coverage". It's simple economics that less competition means higher prices and it's no surprise that since they merged both T-mobile and Orange have tried to put up their prices or change their conditions to hurt existing customers. The UK government should look again at how EverythingEverywhere operate and ensure that in the forthcoming 4G/LTE spectrum auctions strict agreements are made by all carriers to avoid this happening in the future.
Feedback is always very welcome and there are lots of ways to contact me below,
Thanks to scrappygraphics on flickr for the mouldy orange picture and thanks to you for reading,