Orange red-faced after refusing to cancel tragic teenís contract
Reporter: GILLIAN POTTS
Date online: 11 September 2013
THE father of tragic teenager Ben Fitchett has branded mobile network Orange “heartless, money-grabbing and profiteering” after it refused to cancel his late son’s phone contract.
Crompton House student Ben (14) plunged to his death from a bridge over the M62 on August 26
Dad Peter, from Rochdale, was shocked and disgusted when staff at the Rochdale EE store — Orange’s parent company — told him he couldn’t cancel the contract on Ben’s phone because it was in his, Peter’s, name, and he was liable for its full term.
He contacted Orange directly and was again told the contract couldn’t be cancelled. The company even suggested he found a family member or friend to take it over. But Orange said he could buy his way out of the agreement and sell the handset to offset the fee.
An appalled Peter explained that Ben had the phone on him when he fell from the bridge — and told the company he might consider their suggestions when the police handed it back after their forensic examination.
He told them: “I’m sure my 14-year-old son wasn’t really thinking about the repercussions of having to deal with such a heartless, money-grabbing, profiteering company. Maybe it is in good condition after such a fall, although I genuinely doubt it.”
The distressing conversation — posted on Facebook by Peter in an attempt to shame Orange into reversing its decision — prompted a wave of anger towards the network. Supporters branded them “insensitive, disgusting and unbelievable” as they commented online. The pressure paid off: Orange retracted their refusal yesterday.
A spokesman said: “We have been in contact with Mr Fitchett to offer our sincerest apologies for any distress, and can confirm we have fully resolved this matter with him.”
The company is now reviewing its handling of the case.
The funeral of popular, music-loving Ben was held on September 2 at St Mary’s Church, High Crompton.
A book of remembrance has been opened at the Shaw school for friends to pay their condolences.
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