Mobile customers can leave their network by sending a simple, free text message, under new Ofcom rules.
Previously if you wanted to switch mobile network and keep your phone number, you usually needed to call your provider to ask for your porting authorisation code (PAC). This is the number you need to give to a new provider for the switching process to take place.
However, when calling their provider, customers were often frustrated by their unwanted attempts to persuade them to stay.
Our new ‘text-to-switch’ process makes it quicker and easier to leave your mobile company, by giving you more control over how much contact you have with your existing provider.
This is how it works:
If you want to switch and keep your existing phone number, text ‘PAC’ to 65075 to begin the process.
Your current provider will reply by text within a minute. They will send you your PAC, which will be valid for 30 days. Their reply must also include important information about any early termination charges or pay-as-you-go credit balances.
You then give the PAC to your new provider and they must arrange for the switch to be completed within one working day.
This new process is designed to be quick and easy, so you could request your PAC while looking for a new deal – for example, while on the phone to a new provider, or in store.
While most people want to keep their mobile number when they switch, around one in six do not.
To switch and get a new number, 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.
If you’re not sure whether you’re still in contract with your provider and if you would have to pay charges to end your contract early, you can text ‘INFO’ to 85075 to find this out without requesting a switching code.
You can also request your PAC by logging in to your online account via your provider website. When you do this, your provider must give you your PAC within one minute, as they would if you requested it by text.
Customers who have more than one number linked to their account – for example those with family mobile packages – will need to request their PAC online.
Our research shows that nearly a third of mobile customers who want to switch find it difficult to cancel their previous service – this is the biggest obstacle to switching.
The second biggest hurdle is when customers want to avoid paying their old and new mobile companies at the same time. Just under a third of customers find this difficult.
So, from Monday, we have banned mobile providers from charging for notice periods that run after the switch date. This will save UK mobile customers a combined £10m each year.
You will need to give your new provider the PAC or STAC number, so your old and new providers 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.”
The measures are part of Ofcom’s wider programme to ensure Fairness for Customers. This includes: