Orange misled customers about 'free broadband for life'

Updated on 27 November 2012 | 1 Comment

Orange has gone back on a promise to offer its pay monthly customers free broadband for life. Here's how you can fight back, and the best alternative deals.

Orange is reneging on a promise to provide thousands of its pay monthly mobile customers with free broadband for life.

The mobile phone provider, now part of EE, made the original commitment to customers who signed up for a monthly contract between 2006 and 2009.

At the time its marketing material explicitly told customers: "You'll enjoy free broadband for as long as you remain an Orange pay monthly customer. All you need is a BT landline."

Now, the mobile giant is writing to customers to tell them they must switch to an Orange landline, at a cost of £14 a month, or it will stop providing them with ‘free broadband for life’ in two months’ time.

Customers revolt

The move has caused outrage among customers, some of whom have repeatedly renewed their mobile phone contract with Orange because they wanted to continue to enjoy free broadband for life. Some customers have threatened Orange with legal action.

The mobile phone watchdog Ofgem, which is encouraging customers to contact Orange about this issue, says that it expects Orange to “deal sympathetically” with any complaints.

Orange has responded by conceding that it will match the landline deal of any customer, so those who currently pay less than £14 a month for their landline will also pay less on Orange - but only for the remainder of the duration of their current mobile phone contract. It will also cover the exit fees of customers who have committed to lengthy landline contracts with other providers, ensuring their switch to an Orange landline won’t leave these customers worse off either.

But you must complain to Orange to receive these concessions - it will not be offered to you proactively automatically.

My experience

My husband took up the ‘free broadband for life’ deal back in 2006 and has been a loyal customer of Orange ever since, spending at least £2,500 with the mobile giant in bills and phone payments over the years.

Even when he first signed up, I remember being cynical about whether Orange would keep to its promise and his years as an Orange customer have made me even more so.

Whenever he loyally renewed his mobile phone contract, the mobile giant repeatedly tried to persuade him to switch to an Orange landline, promising him it would providing a better, faster, ‘free’ broadband service if he did.

Soon, the broadband service it was offering us for ‘free’ was so slow that we found it impossible to watch films and TV shows via the internet. It seems to me now that Orange was gradually and deliberately ensuring that the speeds it provided customers like us failed to keep pace with the speeds most of us want today.

In our case, it got so bad that, by the end of last year, the ‘free broadband for life’ promise had became almost worthless to us and, when we were offered a cheap upgrade, we reluctantly agreed to start paying for a faster broadband connection.

Looking back now, I think we went for the carrot - and now Orange is using the stick. My experience suggests Orange has been trying to get its ‘free broadband for life’ customers to pay more, somehow, some way, for years. This is just the latest outrageous trick in its repertoire.

What do you think? Have any other readers who took out the ‘free broadband for life’ offer had a similar experience? Let us know using the comments box below.

How to fight back

If you’ve been affected by the Orange move, you don’t have to put up and shut up. The more people who fight back, the more likely it is that Orange will have to make further concessions.

So first, complain to Orange and ask for your current terms and conditions to stay the same.

If you are met with refusal, consider threatening legal action. The Daily Mail cites one reader who managed to get £250 compensation and free broadband for the remaining 15 months of his mobile phone contract after making 40 calls and emails warning he was going to court.

Either way, if Orange doesn’t respond to your complaint within eight weeks or rejects it, use the Communication and Internet Services Adjudication Scheme (CISAS).

Whatever happens, do come back and share your experiences with other readers.

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