A Dongle, $3500 bill from Orange. A Soya Latte.
I have firsthand experience of major corporations’ determination to make huge profits with little costs. I rented a dongle, a small gadget from the Orange telephone company to download my emails while abroad. When I returned home from Australia I received a bill from Orange for £2250 ($3500, €2700 Euros) for the use of the dongle for less than 90 minutes use in four weeks. The EU Commissioner described these charges to consumers by mobile phone companies as a “rip off.”
I regarded the size of the bill as a violation of the UK Unfair Contract Terms, 1977 for a fair and reasonable contract. Downloading or streaming a 30-minute video could be anything between 100 megabytes and 300 megabytes. That would add £800 to £2,400 to your bill, depending on your provider. The cost to a telephone company is believed to be around three pence per gigabyte. Yes, per gigabyte.
I downloaded my emails on the first day or two as well as looking at briefly a couple of websites at the beginning of a three period of Dharma teaching in the Australian rainforest. After two days, the retreat manage told me that Wi-Fi was available. It had not been available in previous visits. My use in the forest could have cost me £25,000 – £75,000 if I had used the dongle around an hour or so a day for the month of my stay in Australia.
I appealed to the Watchdog in UK who is supposed to safeguard customers rights. I was firmly told that I had made the contract with Orange and had to pay up. I wrote to my Member of Parliament who wrote to the CEO of Orange who said I had to pay the full amount for the Orange bill.
Last July, the size of my Orange telephone bill made the main story in the local newspaper, main story of an inside page of an evening newspaper. I spoke on a local BBC consumer affair programmes. In the local radio office, four out of five staff told me of their dongle and smart phone bills between £75.00 and £825 for their use overseas.
I read that Orange had merged with T Mobile phone company in an £8.2 billion deal. It cost Orange around £600 -£800 million to integrate a 28 million customer base, mostly in the UK and Germany. Orange and T-Mobile had set out to recoup the cost of the merger from its customers. Their lawyers ensured that the telephone contract could not be broken, even though I signed nothing.
It was hard to find on the Orange website the warnings about phenomenal charges for downloading information on a dongle or smart phone while overseas.
These dongle and smartphone charges by the two merged telephone companies pays substantially for the merger. The company refuses to disclose the profit margin on downloaded information.
A computer engineer told me that average computer home use is around 10-20 gigs of information downloaded per month. I pay around £18.00 including telephone with very cheap call rates to Australia, USA etc.
If any friends understand percentages and profit margins, would you kindly tell me the percentage increase and the profit of Orange to use their dongle.
One doctor in France downloaded, via his dongle, a television series while on holiday overseas. Orange sent him a bill for £75,000 (€90,000, $116,000).
Would readers who understand maths, kindly give me some figures and percentages.
I understand the cost to Orange is around 3 pence (US five cents) per gigobyte. Orange charges are £6.30 ($10) per megabyte to download information from the InterNet using a UK dongle while in Australia.
How much money would it cost to use a dongle to download a gigobye of information? If it costs three pence for Orange, what does the customer pay? How much is the percentage of profit for Orange?
If you can tell me, please let me know on my Facebook page or send me an email.
By August, 2011, I had exhausted all means to cancel the bill or get the size of the bill reduced. Since September, I decided I would pay off the £2250 at the rate of the cost of a small soya latte per day.
Comments are welcome.