More fun with Orange and their utterly insane billing system. This time, it’s not the amounts that they’ve got wrong. But the sheer stupidity of the way they present information on their online billing system, which makes it incredibly hard to work out exactly what this month’s bill is.
I have two Orange account numbers; one is my phone, on a normal tarrif. That’s all paid up to date, and the other is my mother’s phone, on the old ‘Virgin Mobile’ tariff, which means it costs next to nothing. I forgot to pay the bill for her phone last month, so wanted to see how much I should be paying now. It’s not easy!
First, I signed in to the billing system; my account was correctly shown, with the number (I’ve removed account numbers and bill reference numbers from these screens.) The amount on my own bill for this month is £20.78. But what do I owe on the other? Should be simple to find out, no? From the account drop down in the centre of the screen, I selected the other account. And this is what I saw:
According to this screen, when I select the account for my mother’s mobile, “your current balance” is “£20.78 – 3.35”
I honestly don’t know quite what that means; I could take a stab that the actual amount on the bill for this second account is 3.35 – the small print below says that’s the overdue amount, because I forgot to pay last month’s bill on time. So, let’s click “view your bills” and see if I’m right.
OK, this is weird. I’m still looking at the second account. But the “your current balance” screen now shows me just “£20.78” which is the amount on the other account, not this one. There’s no mention of the overdue amount, though I can see that it was the bill total for the 1st May bill, further down.
Under “Your latest bill” it says the bill total is £1.86, though. So maybe I did pay last month, and forgot? I can’t view this month’s bill online yet, though, because this is the 3rd of June and it was created on the 1st. That makes sense, doesn’t it? I can download a PDF, though. So let’s click on that.
Of course, clicking the link for the PDF doesn’t actually get me the PDF. It gets me this screen, still showing the balance from my other account at the top, with a link for the PDF.
Have you worked out what I have to pay yet? According to the PDF, it’s £5.21.
That’s not a number that’s appeared on any of the web pages. It’s certainly not the “bill total” the website says represents the bill for June. In fact – and you might have figured this out – it’s the total of the amounts billed in May and June. But the actual PDF invoice – what most people would, surely, consider the “bill” is £5.21. Not £1.86. Not “£20.78-3.35” or the £20.78 that the “current balance” figure suggests.
It’s a figure that you only actually get to see if you click through extra screens to download a PDF and open that on your computer, or get out a calculator to add up the numbers on the screen.
Orange’s billing system remains not fit for purpose, in my view. By misrepresenting information and not properly calculating what you’re supposed to pay, you run the risk of either paying extra – someone in a hurry could easily send that £20.78 to settle a bill, leaving a credit of £15.57 sitting on the account – or pay the £1.86 that the site says is the “bill total” for June, leaving arrears remaining on the account.
I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve pointed out to Orange customer service that there are problems like this with their site. No one ever does anything – though the Twitter team have asked for my password and account number to be DMd to them, which is not something I’m prepared to do.