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I don't like liars or people who set out to deliberately deceive. I am not a person who falls for scams or things that seem 'too good to be true' as there is always a catch but on this instance, everything the person said matched with the [Orange] website so I trusted him. What a fool I was.
I have been a customer of Orange for around eight years and I last upgraded my handset in February 2005. Around mid-October I answered my mobile to a young man who asked for me by name - not just surname but my full first, middle and last name. Admittedly he had trouble pronouncing part of it (that dratted J flummoxing people again!) but he knew who I was, he knew my address and my landline number - even I don't know my landline number as I never use the thing - and when he said he was calling from Orange with a promotional offer I believed him.
The offer was a 10% loyalty discount on my line rental and this would kick-in when I was 10 months in on my current contract so we'd be looking at December. Whilst on the phone to him I nipped along to the Orange website and sure enough, there were details on their loyalty 10% line rental discount offer. At the time I thought everything checked out so I said yes.
On the 17th November I received a text saying I was now on my new contract. I thought this was a little odd but was unable to check the Orange website until Tuesday. When I checked the website I saw my upgrade cost which was £50 three weeks ago had shot up to £250 meaning there was no way I could upgrade my phone - I'm not stupid enough to pay £250 for a new handset! Rather confused and alarmed by the sudden leap in upgrade costs I rang Orange Customer Services only to be told I was on a 'Third Party Contract'. I asked what that meant and was told that I'd obviously signed a contract with another company - Carphone Warehouse, The Link, Phones 4U and the like. I said I hadn't but I mentioned the call I had received.
Apparently the company that rang me were nothing whatsoever to do with Orange at all and all Orange were able to give me was the company name, part of the address and phone number they were given. Orange were unable to cancel the contract as they believed I had okayed it, it was now up to me to track down the company and cancel.
The number I was given was permanently switched to answer phone. I left a message kindly requesting someone call me but didn't have much hope that they would. It was then time to search the Internet for company details and a phone number that would be answered be a real live human bean.
~ The Company ~
I went to Companies House and typed in MB Internet which was the company name I was given. Up popped MB Internet Marketing and MB Internet Marketing Limited. Both companies had different addresses but both were in Mid Glamorgan so I was headed in the right direction.
I won't bore you with the details of how exactly I finally got the Secret Number That No-One Has but let's just say it took two hours of my time, 3 sheets of A4 paper and me getting quite angry and very flushed in the face. It takes a lot to annoy me but when I am, I'm like a Jack Russell in the sense that I leap around, get quite snarly and yap a lot until I get results (not the staring eyes, stocky legs and funny doggy smell sense).
~ The Phone Call ~
I will type this as a transcript; it's easier to understand and flows better that way. You need to imagine Human bean as speaking as if he's in a state of permanent confusion and a bit like Frank Spencer.
Bean:- Errrr, hello? Me:- Hi. I'm calling about mobile number xxxxx xxxxxx. I was rang about 6 weeks ago, I was told that the caller worked for Orange. They've signed me up for a new 12 month contract that I don't want to be on and I want to cancel the contract. Bean:- Umm. How did you get this number, I mean, like, (giggle) no one calls this number, where did you find it, I mean, this phone like, never, ever, rings like. Me:- Well, you're a very hard company to get hold of but I have ways and means. Bean:- Oh, well, y'see, we're in the process of moving offices at the moment so I can't help you right now. Me:- Oh that's a rather convenient thing for you isn't it. And I daresay this move will take a number of days and by then I will be out of the 7 working day period in which I can legally cancel my contract. Bean:- (nervous giggle). Erm, probably. Have you tried the other number? Me:- Yes. It goes to answerphone, I left a message 40 minutes ago and no one has called. You do realise that by law you are to have your details readily available to your customers and that you must have contact numbers that actually work and are answered by people? Bean:- (nervous giggle which goes on for some time followed by the phone being clutched to his chest and muffles being heard). Well, erm, I can pass the message over to the Orange Team and they will cancel the contract for you. Me:- Right ok. I want their fax number so I can get everything in writing. Bean:- Oh, ok. [number given] Me:- Incidentally, I've spoken to Orange and they say that you have nothing whatsoever to do with them. They haven't heard of your company. Bean:- (nervous giggle). Oh, well, we ARE Orange. Me:- Unless you are an OompaLoompa I doubt that very much. Goodbye.
I know, I can't believe I called someone an OompaLoompa but I was angry. I could have said much worse if I set my mind to it.
I then type out a brief note saying how I have been deceived by the company and I due to the Distance Selling Act I have 7 working days in which to cancel my contract with them. They are to accept the date of my fax (which I will also be posting to them by registered post) as date of cancellation. I dial the fax number, press Start …….and the fax rings and rings forever and eternity. They've switched the darn thing off.
I stomp back to the phone to ring The Giggler but not to my surprise they have now switched that phone off so I go through to answerphone. This annoys me no-end so when I hear the beeeep to leave a message, lets just say I let rip. I end the call saying that I have reported their business to Trading Standards, Office of Fair Trading, OFCOM and Watchdog and I want a response from them within 5 minutes confirming my contract with them has been cancelled. If during the cancellation process they mess up my current contract with Orange I shall hold them fully responsible and charge them any costs incurred to get my original mobile number back up and running.
Not sure if it was my evilness or the threat of being quizzed on TV by Nicky Campbell that put the wind up them but I barely just got back to my desk (I had to go and shout a swear word down the goods lift shaft and get it out of my system first) when I got a call from a stoppy female telling me that my contract was now cancelled but she couldn't see the problem as "We are Orange".
I rang Orange the next day and was told that my contract with MB Internet / MB Internet Marketing / MB Internet Marketing Limited was now cancelled and I was back on my original contract with Orange. I asked the person again who MB was and if they were part of their company, her answer "I'm guessing they are a third party company but I've never heard of them before, they are not part of our company at all".
Orange has had a large number of complaints about people receiving such calls from 'Orange Sales Members' that aren't and are now investigating the companies in question. As a result of this, whenever Orange receives information through that a customer wishes to start a new contract with a Third Party Supplier they now text the handset owner asking them to confirm if this is the case but I daresay people on the other networks out there will still get stung as it's only a matter of time before these people cotton on to that and send the confirmation text.
Please, if anyone calls you offering you a discount line rental, free texts, free evening calls, please please please just don't accept. You don't know what contract or with whom you are getting in to and I suspect that many companies can set themselves up as third party suppliers, MB Internet being just one of many.
Incidentally, if you DO happen to get caught out and you need to send a letter to cancel the contract apart from sending the letter by Recorded (signed for) Delivery, include the following text which is an extract of the letter that I sent:-
"….. As the contract was made at a distance, it is governed by the Distance Selling Regulations 2000. Under these regulations I have a cancellation period of seven working days from receipt of the goods.
Under the Distance Selling Regulations, notice of cancellation which is posted is deemed effective on the date of posting. However, as it is impossible to contact your company and guarantee receipt I will be sending the letter by fax aswell as post, so please treat cancellation as effective from today's date……"
Great job.. sure you were not Sherlock Holmes in a past life?
KateHurst 25.05.2009 18:49
Great that Orange are aware of the situation now - hopefully they will warn others about this "organisation" (ironic - that's something these people are clearly lacking).
I'm a terrible complainer (in the sense that I'm hopeless at it - my dad is even more crafty, he just adopts a "They've lost my custom" attitude and that's it, nothing will lure him back - but I'm the sort of person who is reluctant to complain and will just go elsewhere for what I need) so I'm glad you got somewhere with this. We need more people like you to confront badly-organised and badly-run companies.