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Orange dispute a storm is brewing.


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Hello All,

 

I have a slight problem and fear I may of opened a can of worms. This is a bit of a long one so please bear with me.

 

I had an account with orange back in 1999 of which ran smoothly up until 2002 or there abouts where I got into to some difficulty paying the bill.

 

It happened back in the day where i used to use my old Orange Nokia phone as a modem and used as a dialup modem calls to 0800 numbers were free back then on orange.

 

One month i got a bill for just over £200 that I felt was incorrect only to find that they had started charging for 0800 data calls. I called them up and and advised that I wasnt made aware of the change and the charging policy to such numbers.

 

The person at customer services advised that they would send the bill for recalcualtion and not to worry. One month later I got a bill for £600 I was told I could still use my phone and not worry about paying until the bill had come back from recalculation. Another month went by and again I got an even larger bill for just under £1000 if i remember correctly. I called them up again and asked what was going on I was advised that the bills had come back from the recalculations team and they were indeed correct and that I would have to pay the outstanding balance of just under £1000. I asked why have I now got a bill for just under £1000 and was told calls are charged a month in arrears hence why it had mounted up.

 

I had no way of paying this debt now since it had grown so large plus I had other bills to pay for rent food utility bills gas electric etc.

 

I explained i needed time to pay and was advised that they would suspend the account (use of phone) and any action for a period of 30 days to give me time to pay.

 

I couldn't pay within 30 days and since the original bill of £200 was now technically outstanding for 60-90 days the phone was disconnected and the debt referred to a a debt collection agency.

 

About six weeks later I got a letter from a DCA demanding payment of the outstanding balance. I called the DCA to make an aranagement to pay of £25.00 per month. They rejected this offer and stated that if full payment is not received within 14 days then they will begin legal action to recovery the money in the form of a CCJ.

 

I was so angry at this so I wrote a letter to the complaints team at orange explaining I felt the DCA's tactics were a bit heavy handed and explained that I was offering to clear the debt at £25.00 a month until the debt was clear.

 

a few days later I recieved a letter from orange explaining that they will contact the DCA on my behalf and that the DCA should accept the £25.00 a month. I then made payments each month of the agreed amount and all was well. This went on for at least 2 years I cant remember if I set-up a direct debit or I just used to pay over the phone each month.

 

Anyway one month I went to pay and the DCA advised that the account was now up to date and they will pass the account back to orange. I advised that the phone was now disconnected and that was that.

 

I took out a new connection with orange in 2003 and have been using that phone ever since to this day I pay every month on time, Although there was a period of about 5 or 6 months where I was a month late with my payment but cleared that arrears on this new account back in 04 and now pay by direct debit, no problems there.

 

Fast Forward 5 years to present to last month. Me and my girl friend want to enter into the world of part rent part buy. I thought it be best to take advantage of the 30 day free trial of Equifax and Experian credit checking service.

 

I got copies of my reports only to find that my old orange account was showing on my report with lots of green 0's but an outstanding balance of a couple of hundred pounds. My current phone is on there as well showing green 0's too showing the same updated date for both accounts.

 

I phoned up orange and asked about the old account and was passed through to the collections team, Who advised that there was an old amount of just over 200 pounds outstanding. I asked how this could be possible when I had paid the outstanding balance of which i thought was in full. She advised the amount has been outstanding since 2005 and has stayed the same since then, she also advised that it also went out for collection but collection was unsuccessful.

 

I find this hard to believe since Both my current orange account and the old one were both registered at the same address and the current live account being paid via Direct Debit. I agreed to pay the outstanding amount and she advised that my Credit file will be updated within 30 days.

 

Its been almost a month now and I am worried since I think they will settle the account and delete the incorrect payment history of which I agree yes they should do. But I am worried they will enter the default date as 2005 not 2002 since I guess they should of defaulted it once it went out for collection the 1st time which was 2002.

 

The fact of the matter if i had of known that this 200 odd quid was outstanding I would of paid it. Im angry since I have not heard anything from them with regards to this account neither anything from the so called new collectors from 2005.

 

Im hoping that they will just mark it with an S and that will be the of it, If they don't and they default it with a date of 2002 then thats fine since it will automatically fall off anyway But im worried that if they mark it as 2005 that also will be incorrect data.

 

I feel that I have dropped my self in it since had I have just left it yes it would show an outstanding balance but still green zero's and if I had of left it and someone had chased me for it then the debt would of been statury barred anyway. But I thought it best to be honest so i brought it to their attention.

 

Can anyone give me some advice on how to proceed if things do get nasty since I feel as if I have just made a big mistake.

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The root cause of your issue with Orange still remains. Their 'bill recalculation' was still erroneous - those 0800 calls should have remained free on your tariff.

 

We're not talking broadband here, just good old Circuit-Switched dial up - and I used Orange and my cellular modem to connect to AOL. They offered an 0800 number at the time with AOL charging me 1p/min for my connection and Orange NOT charging for the call, as my tariff provided for inclusive 0800 calls - and STILL does today. Newer tariff changes accounted for the ending of 0800 data calls, but unless you actually changed your tariff via an upgrade, you would still have had those free 0800 data calls.

 

Because of the delay in chasing them on this, they are now not obliged to rectify it (they can go back 6 years) but I think you should raise your concerns with the Executive Office t Orange, and ask fr the incorrect overdue payment markers to be removed in their entirety.

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Buzby,

 

Thanks for your reply surely when the account was terminated back in 2002 they should of stopped processing my data. All I want if they do default the account is for them to put the correct date of which i believe to be 2002.

 

Since to this day its showing as up to date but with an outstanding balance of which i paid now last month, But was told it will be updated within 30 days, Meaning that the balance should now read 0.00 and marked with an S

Edited by dera2005
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So my question is are they likely to delete all the incorrect data and show the account to be in arrears for over 5 years and place the default on from 2002 of which would make the default disappear anyway given its age or just mark it with an S and place no default on the account or delete the entry entirely. ? Bit Confused.

Edited by dera2005
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Because of their 'policy change' of charging for 0800 data calls, you should NEVER have been billed for them, that remains their error, so everything that follows from that is incorrect, the default the payment plan and the information on your indebtedness. So, the issue is not when they should have applied the Default, but the fact no default should have existed.

 

What I was referring to is you cannot sue them for an overpayment made over 6 years ago (but it doesn't harm to ask anyway). Once you can get them to agree the billing for 0800 calls changed mid-contract with you not being advised of this change, then the 'debt' evaporates and along wit it the supposed default.

 

For info, the date of any default should always be at the time the debt occurred, not an arbitrary date months or years later when they close the account.

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Buzby,

 

Thanks for the update I guess I just wait and see what they do when the update the credit record entry. What are the chances of them terminating my current contract now that this has come to light with the old account since technically i shouldnt of been granted a new line since their was an outstanding amount on the previous account even though i didnt know about it until now ?

 

Can they terminate it. I will fight it if they try and do that since I can say look i didnt know i had an outstanding balance on the old account until I checked my file and paid you the day that I found out you have never written to me to advise that a balance was still outstanding. Also my current account with them has not been in arrears for 5 + years.

 

If they do get nasty I also have a pay as you go account with them with a credit balance of around £550 if they terminate my current contract what would my chances be of me saying something along the lines of, Since you have terminated my current contract account I want the money thats currently on the pay as you go account refunded to me in the form of a cheque so I can take my business elsewhere ?

Edited by dera2005
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I would say any change to your current contract would be non-existant. Providing you keep within its terms, there shouldn't be an issue as even if the bottom fell off your credit file, providing your payments are being made, the contract will continue as it gives YOU rights too!

 

If they allow you to open additional accounts (for no other reason than you wanted additional phones) a default will never cause the others to be cancelled, only fraud or operating a cellular gateway (*) will cause them to close the account.

 

Your PAYGO account is again, a totally different agreement, and they have no right of set-off (your credit balance) for any other account. Since the systems are not linked, I don;t believe they know of the connection, unless you tell them voluntarily.

 

(*) If you don't know what this is, it's not relevant to your situation!

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Buzby,

 

Thanks for that I was just wondering its obvious that orange had written this debt off. I have had this confirmed today. What i am wondering now is now that I have paid the outstanding balance are orange allowed to go back and place a default the account even though the had amount had been written off ?.

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I'm assuming that as you've no interest in pursuing them regarding the charges for 0800 calls, you're happy to accept this and lok at the remaining issues?

 

In that case, whether Orange sold the debt on, 'wrote it off' or decided not to pursue it whilst showing your debt as a liability to the company, doesn;t alter the fact that the money was owed to them. Even assuming the debt was transferred to a third party (where they may have been paid 25% of the debt by a finance house for the right to pursue you adding charges along the way, still won't prevent them from flagging it as a default under those circumstances, although it could be argued that what they're doing is unfair, as the original date of the debt claimed is when the clock starts.

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Buzby,

 

Thanks for all your help on this. I would like to fight it more but to be honest its getting me down, All I want is the file to be updated to a 0.00 balance and if they do decied to default the account to default it with the correct date.

 

I am just angry since if i had known the debt was outstanding i would of paid it years ago, The only reason i found out that it was outstanding was because I applied for a copy of my credit file and found that its on there so i paid it stright away.

 

I just hope they can see some compassion and goodwill and just leave it as is and just settle the account

Edited by dera2005
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I just hope they can see some compassion and goodwill

 

They do not know the meaning of these words. Profit they do understand.

 

Be wary of one aspect of DCA files. The file of any account will stay on your record until six years after 'A/C settled xx/xx/xxxx' (date) appears.

 

If you have an account that has been run completely without blemish and close it, the file shoud immediately be shown as settled and will stay on the record for six years from the settled date. It is important that the customer checks that this is done properly as it is often neglected by the owner (creditor) of the file and the file could remain for ever. Usually this is not a bad thing but if the file shows a credit limit that will be takem into account when assessing the customer for a loan it is importsant that the file is properly closed on the CRA record.

 

If the file shows a default the same process applies - the six years does not run from the date of default but from the date that the file is marked as settled. It may become settled if you pay all that is owing or the creditor accepts a lower amount (it might be zero) but you must check that he magic words 'A/C settled' appear with the correct date.

 

The date of the default may be important because some lenders will disregard defaults older than 3-4 years provided the file is shown as settled but most only have to see the word default to turn a customer down for a credit or a service account. So the date of the default is most often immaterial. The only thing that matters is that the file is shown as setttled otherwise the default will show for ever. Settling an account will not remove the default marker but it will mean that the file is removed from the record after six years.

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Pelham9

 

Thank you for that information, I was a bit confussed about the default so spoke to experian who advised the default will fall off from 6 years of when it was placed whether the balance is still outstanding or not.

 

Not sure whos correct can anyone else clarify this please. ?

 

Just wanted to say thanks to Buzby and your self for all your information and help on this.

 

Many thanks

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I'm with Experian on this - there would be considerable disquiet if an entry lasted more than 6 years, it cannot be extended OR duplicated (say, if the debt was sold on).

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Thanks Buzby,

 

I will wait to see what happens with the file. I might need some help on writing letters and stuff technical wording etc. Let me know if thats ok if not i understand its ok

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My apologies. Buzby (and Experian!!) is correct.

 

From the Experian website

 

We keep a record of these accounts for six years from the date the

lender decided you had broken the terms of the agreement (the ‘defaulted’ date

 

Once the default is placed the owner of the file can only update the balance owing. Six years after the default date the whole file is deleted.

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so spoke to experian who advised the default will fall off from 6 years of when it was placed whether the balance is still outstandin

 

I have found the Experian website confusing on this hence my error in my previous post. It is not that the default falls off the file 6 years after the default date but that the whole file is deleted and removed from the record. The account is treated in exactly the same way as as a settled account from the date of default except that the balance owing can be updated until the file is removed.

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Don't be fooled - NOTHING is [deleted'] - it will magically reappear if they get the minimum period upped to 10 years! So it is true they are treated 'in the same way' but it all sits there - and if you have the highest clearance to access, you'll see the lot.

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