Orange user awaits judgement over roaming bill

Roaming Rip-Offs: An arbitration panel is to rule on whether data roaming charges are too expensive and difficult to understand
Written by Colin Barker, Contributor

The customer at the centre of a controversy over Orange's roaming charges is waiting for the verdict of an arbitration panel, which will decide whether he will have to pay his disputed bill.

As reported by ZDNet UK last month, Roger Steare returned home from a trip to France and Germany and soon found himself faced with an unexpected bill for £769 for using his Orange 3G card to download less than 100 megabytes of data.

Orange has said that the details of its charges were available on its Web site, but Steare pointed out that at no time did he realise that he would be charged £8 a megabyte for a service that would cost him much less in the UK.

"I was prepared to pay a premium and thought it would be four of five times what I pay in the UK," said Steare at the time. "I didn't expect it to be 100 times the rate."

Steare asked Orange to reconsider its charges, but Orange insisted that he pay the amount in full, as per his customer agreement.

In response, Steare turned to CISAS, the Communications and Internet Adjudication Scheme, which is set up to resolve disputes of this kind under the auspices of the Institute of Arbitrators. Under the terms of arbitration, Orange agreed to wait for an adjudication before pursuing its action.

Steare based his case for adjudication on the grounds that the charges for data roaming abroad are both too expensive and difficult to understand. Orange is defending its actions by maintaining that its charges are not excessive and are in line with others in the industry.

Steare told ZDNet UK this week that at one point he though he had already won the case after Orange missed a deadline for submitting a defence in the case to CISAS. It filed the defence three days later. Steare is now awaiting CISAS's verdict, which could be delivered before Christmas.

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