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Orange hikes prices, says you can't cancel your contract

Orange will be hiking its prices by 4.34 per cent from January, and says customers may not opt out of their contracts.

Orange is hiking its pay monthly prices by 4.34 per cent, in a move that has left customers steaming.

"As you probably know, inflation is at a 20-year high," the citrus-tinted network intoned in a post on its website, "which is having a significant impact on businesses and households alike."

Orange continues, in solemn tones, "Unfortunately, we've had to re-evaluate our prices for the first time and are sorry to say that there will be a 4.34 per cent increase in our monthly plan prices from 8 January 2012."

If you're on a £35 per month contract, expect to pay an extra £1.50 next year. If you currently pay £15, expect to fork over £15.64 from 2012.

Orange is saying customers will not be able to use the price hike as an opportunity to get out of their contracts. Such weasling is prohibited, the network says, because the terms and conditions of its monthly plans allow it to increase charges by up to the Retail Price Index (RPI) in a 12-month period.

Orange is at pains to point out that its hike isn't as high as the RPI measure of inflation, which stands at 5.4 per cent.

So it looks like you'll struggle to opt out. But you could try calling Orange and saying you're not happy -- there's always the chance they'll let you off the hook rather than see loads of people complain to Ofcom.

We spoke to Ofcom, who told us that under General Condition 9.6 of its rules, communications providers must provide one month of notice before making changes that are likely to be of 'material detriment' -- ie, changes that will cost you more money.

Orange has provided more than a month's notice (just), so it doesn't look as though it's breaking Ofcom's rules. If enough people complain to Ofcom, it's possible the regulatory body will launch an investigation, however.

MoneySavingExpert's Martin Lewis reckons if you tell Orange that the price hike is of 'material detriment' and that you want to leave, they might let you go. If you want to complain, you can do so to communications adjudication scheme CISAS, or to Ofcom.

Orange's sister company T-Mobile has no plans to raise prices, according to This Is Money.

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