Nov 19, 2006

Orange upgrades : worse than the rest, or standard for the industry? 

I'm not at all happy with Orange right now. I've been a loyal Orange customer for over 4 years, keeping the same handset for all that time and paying them £30 per month on contract. With my phone coming to the end of it's life I wanted to upgrade to the best phone I could get and keep that for (hopefully!) the next four years.

Before I go into my experience - I'd love to hear how you've faired. If you have upgrade stories (good or bad) please either blog them or add comments to this blog.

OK - my story. Popping into the Orange shop there are a wide range of phones clearly available for free on contract. My choice - the Sony Ericsson k800i.

"Sorry sir, that's only available to new customers - you can have that phone for £100." What? The phones on offer for a free upgrade were singularly uninspiring. Phoning Orange and threatenning to leave dropped the price to £89 - the best they could do. They explained that while they would like to upgrade me they had to position their offers to attract new customers.

My understanding of business is that it is much easier to keep your existing customers than to find a new one and that you should *never* neglect your existing customer base. I was until that point a happy existing customer.

Close to moving to a new provider I phoned The Car Phone Warehouse to see whether they could upgrade me for free. They could - and sticking with Orange. Yipee! I was offered a 12 or 18 month contract and was happy to sign-up for an 18 month contract, moving to the Orange Puma 30 plan. I was told I'd get 375 any-network minutes, 450 land-line minutes and 75 texts per month. Great.

First statement arrives and I have 200 any-network minuts, 100 landline minutes and 100 fixed line minutes - that is a 12 month contract. A call to Orange. "Ahh - yes sir - you're on a 12 month contract. When you upgrade and get a new handset your 12 month contract is actually 18 months." Now I clearly had the choice from Car Phone Warehouse of 12 months or 18 months. I clearly requested 18 months and was clearly told the number of minutes etc that I would have.

A call to Car Phone Warehouse. Hmmm - they aren't sure what's happened but the person that dealt with me will definitely call back. Well of course they didn't.

So - have you upgraded with an existing supplier recently? Are they *all* as aweful as Orange? Do they all treat their existing customers as something they've scraped off the sole of their boot? Questions to ask:

  • Do they give you the same choice of phone at the same price as new customers?
  • Do they lock you into different terms to existing customers?
  • Are they up-front with what they are offering? Look around the Orange shop or web-site - they are full of 'free with £35 contract' - no mention anywhere that if you are an existing customer you might as well not bother looking round their shop and may as well bin the Orange brochure they have.

I'd like to know because as soon as this contract is up I'm moving from Orange. They have lost a hitherto happy customer. The rest of my family will follow in due time so that will be 3 lost customers.

My recommendation is never upgrade with Orange. Always move away from them. What is your experience?


I recently upgraded with Orange over the Internet and transferred to a better phone within a few days. I damaged the phone (by mistake!!) and was sent a new handset within 24 hours.
At present I and my wife have phones with Orange on the Talkshare contract. We pay over the £30 a month so also have FREE? Broadband and VOIP calls to our family who, fortunately for us, subscribe to Orange. Our financial benefit on phone calls alone almost pays our Orange bill.
I find Orange a rotten company to deal with. Bad customer service and incompetent operators. But if you can do all your dealings through the Internet, first the web site is quite good and, second, you get written replies via e-mail, so you have proof of what they say.
I have played by their rules and find it works reasonably well. The phone upgrade page on their website gives the free upgrades and any cost penalties involved by upgrading before the contract expires.
So my message is:- Deal direct and you are in for a rough time! Keep them at arms length and they become just tolerable.
Comment by Terfyn - Sep 16, 2008 8:09
I moved to o2 four years ago and have had no problems at all, when your contract is up they phone you and send a letter.
There are some restrictions on the handsets, but unless you want a handset that is all singing all dancing and makes the tea
the majority are free.
My wife my son and daughter are also all with o2 and we are all very happy, and if you do phone them for any reason you will always
speak to a real person who always seem to be happy and very helpful.
Comment by lyndon13 - Sep 9, 2008 4:23
in the same situation contract is due up on the 11th september 08, two phones wifes and mine want 2 x N95 8Gb, can upgrade but for £149 per handset - what a load of crock new contract gets you it free on dolphin 35 which we are on......
Goodbye orange! Hello someone else
Comment by john grimley - Sep 2, 2008 22:34
I have been with orange for over 15 years and I have a PAYG handset and a contract phone I also have my parents and husband on the same network.  How stupid was that??????? I was due an upgrade over 6 months ago but I recently had a baby so my priorities change.  Now I have time to think I decided to upgrade my phone. O2 have been chasing my custome for months and have offered some really ott packages and soon I think the guy may offer me a cleaner too, the only problem is if I change i need to change the other orange users ( which is looking like a good idea) So I called orange advised them of what O2 offered and they couldnt match so I was advised to call next day and go through to upgrades but ask straight away for retentions.  I did this but got a real snotty nosed operator that said she had to look at my account before she did this although I did explain I had spoken to someone the day before.  25 mins late she sighs and said she would put me through - Eh was that not what I asked for? Anyway they offered me the bog standard tarriffs that new users would get no nice extras or a package that would suit ME. It was either too many minutes and not enough text or the other way around.  Any on the package that did suit i would get free orange to orange so what was the point in all those minutes, as the only people I call are on the orange network!?!?!  I went to the Carphone warehouse who made me some good offeres but the amount I was reducing my bill by I was having to pay for their insurance as it was not an orange handset therefore I could not have the orange insurance. I also looked ont he Carephone warehouse web site and when you call the number you get a much better offer than what you so in the shops. I cant believe that are offering 11 months 1/2 price line rental to new customers but existing upgrades get nothing and thats not their ruling it orange........................That says it all.
Comment by M oneill - Jul 5, 2008 22:48

A mixed story about Orange.

First the bad news. I wanted to use the VOIP line on my Orange Broadband box. Would it work - would it ****. It took six months and the purchase of two new landline phones before Orange were convinced enough to send me a replacement Broadband "Livebox". Now its OK.

Now the good news. When my contract expired I upgraded my phone FREE to a Nokia Prism 7500 (SMART or what!) No problems!

My family all use Orange (I know - they are mad as well) BUT the VOIP phone calls to Orange phones are FREE so I have knocked £40 a month off my BT bill. Now THATS good.

Comment by Terfyn - May 14, 2008 7:09
I moved to o2 four years ago no problems at all, you get a text message telling you when you are due for an upgrade and you get any phone they got for free.
Comment by lyndon13 - May 13, 2008 4:35



Comment by LEILYN_REAL - May 7, 2008 1:45
Go to Phones4U.....
I have an orange contract and got an N95 (free) on upgrade and a better contract for the same money £30. I rarely use my minutes and send a few texts each month.
Comment by cottamweb - Apr 1, 2008 20:46
i've been with vodafone since2000 and have upgraded very  easy,the longer you leave it between upgrades(egfull 18mths) the better phone you get.i had several choices when i got mine and very satisfied,all my family are on vodafone to
Comment by angela - Feb 26, 2008 12:31

General wisdom says that's it's much more difficult to win a new customer than to keep an existing customer - so you keep your existing customers happy.

That's not the case in the mobile phone industry at least in the UK - so why not?

I think the answer has a lot to do with what are basically anti-competitive practices - and primarily to do with the extortionate cost of calls between operators and I think it works as follows :

A typcial family with a couple of kids ends up with four phones, a mix of contact and PAYG. In my case we are exactly like that. We have two phones on contract and the kids on PAYG. For us to move to another provider we all have to move, otherwise the kids are faced with ridiculous charges to phone one or the other parent. The end-of-contract for the two contract phones never coincide - with the result that when one contract is up for renewal there is a huge barrier to changing provider and leaving the rest of the family on the old service provider.

This in turn leads to the ridiculous situation where providers can treat existing customers with contempt while providing ever more enticing incentives to new customers.

These are the kind of issues Ofcom should be investigating - rather than the rather niche issue of cross-border roaming charges.

Comment by petew - Feb 18, 2008 0:29


It is a complete shambles, the opposite of what business should be...

Existing good customer : to upgrade phona A : cost £100

New Customer : To get phone A : cost FREE

This just happened to me, with Orange.  Are all other companies the same ?

I am simply going to get a new one, with someone else.

Its a funny old game

Comment by Andy - Feb 17, 2008 22:42

Similar stories as others here.

Was told I could upgrade today when I phoned orange last night. They said I was only entitled to 3 phones free of charge. Which off course I told them in no uncertain terms what I thought about that! Seeing that new customers get a dozens of free phones to choose from.

Decided to go into the orange shop locally to have a look. Was told the phone I wanted would cost me £99. Even though the ticket under it said free to new customers.

I also mentioned to them that the orange website said selected phones (including the one I wanted) had a deal where you get £10 off your bill each month if you go for the £35 tariff, seeing I currently am on a £30 tariff this would be dearer, but cheaper with the offer. Off course the shop assistant denied knowing about such an offer. I told her to bring up the orange website on her pc, she refused too. So I left the shop before I got myself arrested for breach of the peace!

Phoned up Orange and mentioned the phone I wanted and was told that would be £99. Then I mentioned that on there website in big bold letters it said it was free on the £35 tariff and also had £10 off the bill each month. Also the fact that there website says it treats existing customers the same as new ones! that still makes me chuckle!

After all that apparently the system then didn't recognise I was due an upgrade today. Although it did when I phoned before and it did in the orange shop! But no more then a few hours later it didn't. Apparently nobody at Orange could look into it and I have to wait until tomorrow when the system resets.

As my contract doesn't run out for another three months, I am prepared to fight Orange until that time to try and get what I believe an existing customer should get. And what Orange themselves say on there website an existing customer should get.

I really don't mind having to switch to a rival provider when my contract runs out. And have no problems with my current mobile, but if something is free, I'll have it. Really it's up to orange to offer me what they promise. Especially as you can change providers and take your number with you anyway.

Comment by Jamie - Feb 9, 2008 21:38
I was due an upgrade on Orange, I phoned and was told I could upgrade for free on the 10th of January 2008. This was great as I had a day off from work as I had a few things to do that day and would be shopping with my wife, I can pop in and upgrade my phone I thought.
I have been a happy customer with orange for years, some pay as you go and for the last 3 years or so on £35 per month. I currently have a sony ericsson smartphone, which I love, but is getting a bit tired having used it for 3 years. My last upgrade was 18 months ago for an lg chocolate which I didnt like as much so swapped the sim back to my sony ericsson. When I spoke to Orange upgrades they told me I could upgrade on the 10th of January and that as a 'valued customer' (how those words now make me snigger ironically) they would do me a good deal on a similar phone. I suggested an HTC Touch and the representative told me he was sure they could provide those for a free upgrade.
I waited all over christmas... and the 10th of January arrived.
Try # 1: Going into the shop I was told the system was down and could I come back later.
Try #2: Half an hour later I was told that I WASN'T elligible for a free upgrade as my contract didn't end until my next bill and they were unable to tell me when that would be.
Try #3: I phoned Orange and after a LONG wait was told that they couldn't tell me when I was due for an upgrade either, the earliest date was the 10th of January but it could be as late as April... They could not give me a date as to when my contract would run out...
Try #4: Feeling distinctly cheated and lied to I decided to bite the bullet and pay the £25 upgrade fee. I returned to the shop, pointed out the HTC touch (with FREE for £30+ beneath it) and was told it would be £100 +£25 upgrade fee ! So Orange obviously value a new customer more than an old customer like myself.
Try #5: I told them what the operator had said on the phone but there was no record of such a conversation. £125 please ! I said I would think about it.
Try #6: My Wife persuaded me to get it, saying I deserved a treat etc etc, so I went back to the accursed shop, filled in all the details, waited, waited. Then the assistant returned and said they hadn't got any !
I left the shop with an ironical snort before I lost my temper. It took me a while to calm down...
My contract is up soon and I think I will swap to anothe rnetwork if thats what Orange think of their customers.
Comment by Andrew Land - Jan 11, 2008 17:59
I recently applied for a FREE upgrade over the web and was charged £150 + VAT. I was told that the phone was indeed free but as I upgraded part way through my contract I would be charged th £150!! I returned the phone and received a refund.
I use Orange broadband (FREE!) That seems to be OK.
Comment by Terfyn - June 21, 2007 5:51
Orange used to be good, then they got bought and their Customer Service has been absolutely appalling ever since.
I've been an Orange customer for 13 years and on the strength of that when it came to setting up a business account at my work we decided to go with Orange.  What a big mistake this has turned out to be! 
We have been waiting 6 months for Orange to upgrade our handsets, and I have just found out today that due to some internal cock ups our free upgrades have been rejected.  Our phones are so old and battered they barely work and they now expect us to pay for an upgrade when we were promised it would be free of charge.
The future's shite...the future's NOT Orange!
Comment by Rosie - Mar 14, 2007 16:45
Hi I understand your problems.... the problem is Orange now band customer from 1-5  . the lower you are the less of value you are to Orange, its all done by a system so can be wrong... Generally the band 5 customers can get pretty much what ever phone they want, but there are still some restrictions on them.......
send me an email at [email protected] and ill see what I can do for you and anyone else who is interested..
Comment by simon - Nov 21, 2006 23:26

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