Smartphone users are being offered a major update which will make it much more simple to change their contracts.
From today, if you want to switch to new a provider there’s no need to call and go through the laborious task of trying to cancel your current deal.
Instead, you can now just send a free text with a code then instantly sent to your phone to help you transfer your contract to a new company.
Every UK network and provider, including EE, Three, Vodafone and O2, will now have to offer this service which is part of Ofcom’s plan to give consumers more control over their bills.
Ofcom says that the old way of switching provider was too complicated with people wanting to move mobile operator and keep their phone number usually having to call to request a ‘porting authorisation code’ (PAC).
Although this may not sound too complicated, many customers say they have found themselves frustrated by unwanted attempts to persuade them to stay.
In fact, research revealed that nearly a third (31 per cent) of mobile switchers find it difficult to cancel their previous service.
The new ‘text-to-switch’ process should make it much quicker for people to leave their mobile company, by giving customers control over how much contact they have with their existing provider.
Here’s how the new system works:
Text ‘PAC’ to 65075 – and keep your mobile number
If a customer wants to switch and keep their existing phone number, they just text ‘PAC’ to 65075 to begin the process.
Their existing provider will respond by text within a minute.
They will be sent their switching code (PAC), which will be valid for 30 days.
The provider’s reply must also include important information about any early termination charges or pay-as-you-go credit balances.
The customer then gives the code to their new provider, and this company must arrange for the switch to complete within one working day.
The new process is designed to be quick and easy, so customers could request their code while looking for a new deal – for example, while on the phone to a new provider, or in store.
Text ‘STAC’ to 75075 – and get a new mobile number
While most people want to keep their mobile number when they switch, around one in six do not.
These customers can text ‘STAC’ to 75075 to request a ‘service termination authorisation code’. The rest of the process is the same as above. This takes away the hassle of having to talk to your current provider if you simply want to leave them.
Text ‘INFO’ to 85075 – and find out more
If someone is not sure whether they are still ‘in contract’, and would have to pay any early termination charges, they can simply text ‘INFO’ to 85075 to find this out without requesting a switching code.
Notice-period charges banned
The second biggest hurdle switchers face is trying to avoid paying their old and new mobile companies at the same time – with three in ten customers finding this difficult.
So, from today, Ofcom has banned mobile providers from charging for notice periods running after the switch date.
This will save UK mobile customers a combined £10m each year.
Customers need to give their new provider the PAC or STAC number, so their old and new mobile companies can make sure there is no double payment.
Lindsey Fussell, Ofcom’s Consumer Group Director, said: “Breaking up with your mobile provider has never been easier thanks to Ofcom’s new rules. You won’t need to have that awkward chat with your current provider to take advantage of the great deals available.”