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A confused Orange disconnected a customer after he cancelled his brother's account, and then insisted he pay for the suspended line until he produced ID to get reconnected.

The chap in question, one Peter McDougall, signed a contract with Orange in December, but his line was cut without warning in the middle of last week. He called Orange (on another line) and was told he'd have to go to an Orange store and prove his identity to have the phone reconnected.

And no, he couldn't stop paying for the service he was no longer receiving.

We asked Orange what was going on, and the company said: "We noticed excessive usage so we wanted to ensure everything was ok with the account." That sounded perfectly reasonable, except that Orange made no attempt to contact the customer other than one failed call to his landline. And there was no excessive use on the suspended account.

Not that McDougall even got that information - he was simply told that Orange didn't have his ID, and therefore wouldn't reconnect the line, though it was still happy to accept the signature on his contract and thus continue taking his money.

Following our enquiries Orange did reconnect the line and apologise, though it took longer to work out what went wrong.

The problem, it seems, was that McDougall set up a SIM-only account for his brother, who promptly ran up a decent bill and thus surrendered his familial phone rights. The brother's connection was paid off and cancelled.

Two days later Orange decided this was all very dodgy and cut off Peter McDougall's own account without warning. Suggestions that there might be some confusion with his brother's account were initially dismissed, and he was told that Orange's security department had simply realised it didn't have his ID on file and therefore cut off his line.

We're glad Orange has reconnected the line, and hopefully will be ensuring that this remains an isolated incident. Even the operator now admits that "a text message asking the customer to call us would have been more appropriate", which is really the least of it. ®

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