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iPhone owners being ripped off by phone contracts?

We've heard from many of you who are unhappy with the hidden charges, secret data limits and extra fees imposed by phone companies.

Are you being ripped off for owning an iPhone? Are phone networks ripping you off for owning a smart phone? We've heard from many of you who are unhappy with the hidden charges, secret data limits and extra fees imposed by phone companies.

One reader, Martyn Hardacre, eloquently sums up the frustration of owning an iPhone. Here's his story -- have you shared his experiences?

"I recently got an iPhone independently of my Orange contract and wanted to share my experience with you... It highlights how iPhone users are getting a raw deal and are paying more for no logical reason!

"When I had confirmed that I was getting an iPhone, I thought I had a relatively simple process in front of me. In my mind I needed to ring Orange and get a micro SIM and put it into my iPhone and continue on my contract (which had 11 months left to run). I rang Orange and got through to Customer Services reasonably promptly and asked for my micro SIM.

"All seemed to be going swimmingly until I was told about the £10 bolt-on that I needed... I enquired about this and it seemed that if I was getting an iPhone, I needed an iPhone tariff. I explained that I was happy with my current contract (Dolphin 25 -- £25 per month, 300 minutes, unlimited texts, 500MB data) and that no change of tariff was required. This did not compute. 'But you are having an iPhone and that means you need an iPhone tariff' was the unchanging message."

iPhone tax

"I explained that if I had opted to get the latest BlackBerry or HTC I would not need a new tariff, so asked why I needed such changes based on one particular handset. My logic did not resonate with our friend at Orange. The only option, if I refused to change tariff, was to have a micro SIM on my existing plan, but that I would have no 3G data. Frustrated, I put the phone down.

"I could understand it if I was getting the phone from Orange as they would need to get back the cost of the handset in the contract, but I was buying this independently of them.

"I asked that I be put through to someone who could tell me how much it would be to buy myself out of my contract. I was told someone would call me back in 30 minutes. No one called. I rang back and told the same story again, but at least found out that for £150 I could be shot of Orange. I opted to mull this over.

"A few minutes later I was called back. The customer service rep told me that if he changed my existing contract and added an iPhone bolt-on I could get the micro SIM and keep the same total cost by changing to a £15 tariff with the £10 iPhone bolt-on on top. Happy enough at this, I gave it the OK. I then got put through to Newcastle to order said SIM. The guy then told me I could just have a £5 bolt-on for 500MB of data if I'd prefer, which I opted for. At this point I had my micro SIM and my monthly tariff had actually been reduced to £20!"

Tethering surprise

"All was well -- until I went to use the personal hotspot generated by the phone. 'Contact Orange UK' was the message that came up. I rang and was told I needed a bundle to allow tethering. So when I'm already paying for my data allowance, I then also need to pay for the privilege to decide how I use that data! These bundles start from £5.10 a month and go up to a despicable £25 a month on top of your existing contract.

"The conclusion I have reached is that you are actually punished for having an iPhone. You are expected not only to pay more, but to be happy to pay more. Part of this is down to the network and part of this is down to Apple for allowing that level of control to be administered by the network, when they should be putting the customer at the centre of their focus.

"On Android there is a built-in Wi-Fi hotspot app and the networks cannot access this. It gives the customer the freedom to use their allocated data limit in whatever way they wish.

"I'll soon be jumping ship to Three, as they have suitable SIM-only tariffs -- but even they charge an extra £5 a month for iPhone 4 users. The same deal is £5 less for an iPhone 3GS.

"Apple and Orange -- a sour combination."

We've asked Orange for comment on Martyn's experience, but it's yet to get back to us. Have you had a similar experience with the iPhone, or any other smart phone for that matter? Do you feel as if you're being cheated, or have you found the perfect deal? Share your tale of woe or handy tips in the comments or on our Facebook page.