Hi, just seen this thread and it seems to be almost exactly what happened to me last year. I've copied the letter I sent to Orange below. They were unbelieveable, I cannot fault them. They initially added credit to the account, but following this letter, they changed my sons contract. They backdated it to the start, changing it to unlimited texts. This meant that I was in credit, rather than owing them loads. As I said, Orange were fantastic. Hope it helps.
Mobile number: ***** ******
I was given your address yesterday, in the hope that you could resolve this issue with my mobile account.
I have been with Orange for several years now. Our broadband was originally with Wanadoo, which should tell you how long we have been with Orange for broadband. I’ve been on Pay as You go for years before sorting my first mobile contract with yourselves. I then took another contract, for my girlfriend. Following this, I added 2 sim-only deals onto my account for my sons. The sim-only were 18 month deals and one of my sons decided to stop using his approximately 3 months into the contract. So, I cancelled the 2nd sim-only contract when I bought the HTC Desire HD from yourselves last August and took out the current contract for my youngest son. Unfortunately, the 2nd sim-only contract wasn’t cancelled until 5 months later I have since discovered.
Until last month, Orange has always been fantastic, and I wouldn’t hesitate recommending you to anyone. Very good prices, fantastic and friendly support etc etc.
It seems slightly ironic that as I was reading a story on the bbc news website about horror phone bills (details below), I was experiencing that exact thing. As far as I was aware, my sons contract included unlimited texts. When I renegotiated this contract and bought him a HTC Desire HD from yourselves, the contract altered from unlimited to 1500 texts per month. Can you please look into the recording of when I took out this contract and send me verification that I was told it had decreased? I do not recall that part of the conversation.
Late last month, I was horrified when I received a letter stating that the direct debit had failed, and when I saw the amount I was not surprised in the slightest. I assumed that there was an error in your billing somewhere, possibly overcharging me for an orange care claim. You had tried to take a monthly charge of £557.63 and the bank had not authorised this, luckily for me.
I never check the bills, assuming that the correct amounts are being taken. Stupidity on my part, I know.
To be fair, when I contacted Orange, the overcharge for the 5 extra months of the sim-only contract was credited, along with a further £200 credit, which was applied to my account (I am grateful for this, thankyou). My sons contract was also changed, from 1500 texts to unlimited.
I am grateful that his text allowance was increased to ensure that I should never have another horror bill, but I am disappointed that it was not brought to my attention sooner. It could have saved me a fortune in potential charges, and eased a lot of the stress that this has caused.
This credit was applied against the £557.63 bill. Unfortunately, on the day that I called, the following months statements were being made available online. This bill was for £416.27.
I could not immediately access my account, possibly due to the new statements being made available, but also due to a change on the log-in page. I was asked for a username and password, when previously it was my mobile number and password. I do not have a username, so was unable to check the bills.
When I was informed by Orange that the username is the mobile number, I could finally log onto my account and I noticed that the bills had been steadily increasing for 2 months prior to the first horrendous bill (£222.91, £243.24, £557.63, £416.27). As I had not checked the bills, and there were sufficient funds in my bank account at that time, the first two amounts were paid. Unfortunately this has had an effect on my cash-flow and I have incurred additional bank charges for going over my overdraft limit. This of course spirals, and has left me with less funds available for the following months, which is why I have only been able to pay £100.00 on account since. I would like to get this sorted, and really do not want to go further into debt.
When I paid the amount on account by debit card (about 12th March), I outlined my feelings and was told that I would be contacted within 14 days, in order for this to be dealt with once and for all. I was told on the phone yesterday that no-one at Orange would contact me about this, so why was I informed differently when I paid £100 on account? This has just delayed the whole process and caused me even more worry.
I appreciate that I am at fault for not checking the bills more closely (or even at all), but I am very unhappy with Orange for allowing this to happen also.
Is there anything further that Orange can do about the outstanding balance?
As I have already stated, this has put me into hardship (due to additional bank charges) and I am struggling to find a way out of this mess. I fully appreciate that a lot of the blame rests with me for not checking the bills, but is there anything that Orange can do? If I had been warned earlier, this would never have happened. If Ofcom had tackled the ‘bill shock’ earlier, I am confident that this would not have happened. As I have said previously, I have been a loyal customer for years, and intend to be for the foreseeable future. I’ve also spoken to Orange about bringing my telephone calls over to yourselves (currently BT). I see this as a gesture of goodwill. The cost for broadband and evening/weekend calls is roughly £30 per month with Orange, whereas it is currently advertised at £16 per month with BT.
So, to summarise, I feel let down by Orange but obviously have to accept my share of the blame for this also (for not checking the bills). Can you please send verification that I was told about the change from unlimited to 1500 texts when I took out the HTC contract?
Can any further credit be applied to my account, and can you please contact me in order to arrange a payment plan to bring the account back up-to-date again?
Thanks for your help,
‘UK mobile phone companies have been told to let their contract customers restrict how much they spend, to avoid unexpectedly high bills. The regulator Ofcom says the measures are needed to stop so-called "bill shock". It says its research shows that 1.4 million customers with mobile phone contracts have been hit by surprisingly large bills in the past six months’.