I’ve written before about the sorry state of Orange’s billing systems, back in 2010, and it would be nice to think that they’d sorted them out since then. They’ve presumably been too busy with the merger with T-Mobile, creating Everything Everywhere, to actually do anything that might help out customers.
Yesterday, I thought I’d best check the bill for my Orange account, as I’m going abroad soon and don’t want to get cut off for forgetting to pay – sometimes I do pay quite late in the month. So I signed in to the billing system for my business account, and this is what I saw:
Call me naive, but I rather expect the number in big letters, in bold, in the box labelled ‘your current balance’ to be the amount that I actually owe Orange right now (leaving aside the oddity last month where I was told I had an overdue balance of £0.00 and so couldn’t access all the features of my account; curiously similar to issues I’ve had before).
But that’s weird; I’m sure I remembered paying this month’s bill. So I checked with my online banking and yes, I paid £22.75 last week, so how come it’s still showing as due? Very peculiar. Next, I clicked the billing section and requested a PDF of the actual bill; it’s the same as this screenshot below, showing the ebill version, which only became available today:
According to this screen the amount due is £1.63, which is also the amount that was shown on the PDF version. How did that happen?
Look more closely at the bill and you’ll see there are payments credited to my account of £45.50 last month. Now, that’s odd. I don’t remember paying so much. But look closely – the balance brought forward was that mystical £22.75, and twice that is £45.50. So I must have paid the bill twice.
And, it turns out I did. Looking back through my online banking information, it turns out I made a payment of £22.75 on the 30th of August (told you I often pay late). I did that because, again, the main screen told me I had a balance of £22.75. But that’s despite the fact that I actually paid the same amount on the 14th of August too – so two weeks later, in spite of my paying all that was due, Orange’s online billing system was still claiming I owed them money, so I paid.
That’s sneaky, underhand and despicable, in my book. If you’re going to display a balance figure, make it accurate – not two weeks out of date, in the hope that people will check and decide they need to pay again. It’s at least a few days out of date this morning, in fact, as I also paid the £1.63 yesterday, to bring me right up to date – but I’ll grant that they might not have processed that BACS payment, since they’ve clearly not managed the one from the 30th of August yet.
And, again, I’m sure Orange will tell people there’s nothing wrong with their billing systems. But when you can’t get a consistent figure for how much you owe, and even the customer service people tell you that you should try texting ‘balance’ to 150 – which as of this morning was correct, at £0.00, unlike any of the online systems – I would contend that the billing systems at Orange really are not fit for purpose. And they’ve been this way since at least 2010.