Not content with trying to prise a few extra pounds from its British subscribers by sneakily upping the costs of calls to numbers and services deemed to be "out of bundle", Orange is now turning on some of its Internet subscribers in its French homeland. However, in so doing it is treading on the toes of President Sarkozy's dainty but height-enhancing footwear, as Martyn Warwick reports.
As TelecomTV reported on Friday, Orange recently tried to squeeze the pips of some of its hard-pressed British customers and in so doing put itself in breach of its own contactual terms and conditions.
Then Ofcom, the UK's telecoms regulator got involved and Orange was forced into a humiliating U-turn.
Meanwhile, across the Channel, Orange France is upping the cost of 29 of its Internet access subscription plans that it now terms to be "obsolet" - despite the fact that tens of thousands of customers remain on them.
The sums involved are small - between €1 and €5 a month - but the resulting furore is big and now a minister of the French government has been caught up in the controversy.
Orange contacted the affected subscribers by email to tell them that they could either keep their existing Internet service (to and for which they have, of course, signed binding contracts), or transfer to another package or cancel their subscriptions.
What has caused the Sarkozy administration to bring in the big guns is that amongst the plans affected is a socially-inclusive low bandwidth offering that provides the poorest in French society with a basic five hours of web access a month for just €5. Under Orange's proposals this will rise to €6 - a paltry sum but with an explosive political charge beneath it.
The same is true of another, more expensive plan that will rise in price to €24.90 from €19.90. Not much, but more than enough to cause political waves.
As the news broke France's Minister for the Digital Economy, Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, made the media rounds to stress that for reasons of "social cohesion" within France some form of Internet service should always be available under the "psychological level" of €20 a month. She added that she has asked Orange to provide her with an updated tariff list and would be doing the same with France's other ISPs.
In response, Orange France insists that the changes apply only to subscriber contracts that have not been available for a minimum of two years. A spokesperson says the price hikes will affect "only a few customers - no more than tens of thousands out of a subscriber base of 8.6 million."
The carrier says it will continue to offer what it describes as a "low bandwidth" service providing 25 hours of (inevitably) slow Internet access for €10 a month.
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