PR nightmare for Orange after announcing increased contract rates.
Orange could well have sacrificed part of their market share as one of the top four biggest mobile phone network providers after announcing increases to rates for customers mid-contract.
Orange chose SMS as the medium to notify customers that their contract rates will be increasing by anything between 4% and 12% from Janurary 2012 in a frantic attempt to increase revenues inline with the Retail Price Index. This increase is typically passed onto new sign ups and goes un-noticed.
As small as an increase this may seem, Orange customer services are dealing with a wildfire response across Twitter. @OrangeHelpers are usually credible when diffusing negative sentiment, but in this instance they are informing disgruntled customers that this rise in rates has been "a business decision”.
Do Orange deserve such a backlash? It’s against all sense to announce these increases in lead up to Christmas. Could the negative sentiment towards mobile in such a competitive market damage their customer relationships beyond repair? Most new sign ups are incentivised by cash back and free games consoles. Could Orange customers feel betrayed beyond signing up in the future?
Or does this open the window for all other network providers to increase rates with a softened blow?
Personally, I have always detested mobile phone companies as greedy and I will relish the day that a 3G or 4G handset exists to support Skype, Google Talk and possibly other iOS-like applications without the ball and chain of a contract to a service provider.
My contract ends in a matter of months and unless my cloud has an extra thick silver lining I’ll be looking elsewhere.