UK mobile phone operator Orange has admitted it charged some of its users for accessing freephone Wap services, without notifying them about new price changes.
Customers accessing Wap services via an 0800 number were charged by Orange from 1 December. Previously data calls were free through the operator's network. Freephone voice calls remain free.
Immediate customer complaints forced a temporary change of heart from Orange, and these charges will be refunded. Freephone data calls are now free, but a charge will be introduced early next year. One freephone Wap service, Joe0800, has said it will close its service as a result of Orange's decision.
A spokeswoman for Orange said: "Customers were being overcharged, but are not anymore. The 0800 data calls will have a charge again when we can communicate to all our customers via the price guide.
"We decided to bring in a charge and did this before the guide was ready. All customers will be reimbursed."
The Joe Network said it would close its Joe0800 freephone Wap service now that all four mobile networks charge for freephone data calls. Rivals BT Cellnet and Vodafone have always charged for 0800 data calls, while One 2 One began charging at the end of August.
Tony Coyle, chief executive of The Joe Network, said: "As a result of the operator's [Orange's] decision to charge their customers for making 0800 data calls, the Joe0800 service is rendered unusable."
"To continue the service would mean that users are charged by both Joe0800 and by the operator."
The Joe Network said it will offer its customers a full refund regardless of the amount of time used in the current subscription service.
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