Mobile customers can leave their network by sending a simple, free text message, under new Ofcom rules from Monday (1 July).
At the moment, people wanting to switch mobile operator and keep their phone number usually have to call their current provider to request a ‘porting authorisation code’ (PAC). But many find themselves frustrated by unwanted attempts to persuade them to stay.
New Ofcom research reveals that nearly a third (31%) of mobile switchers find it difficult to cancel their previous service. This is the biggest obstacle to switching people face.
Of the people who consider switching but then choose not to, 45% decide switching would be too time consuming; and 39% are put off by the hassle of needing to contact more than one provider.
Our new ‘text-to-switch’ process makes it quicker and easier for people to leave their mobile company, by giving customers control over how much contact they have with their existing provider. This is how it works:
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.
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.
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.
The second biggest hurdle switchers face (after cancelling their previous service) 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 Monday, 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.”
Today’s measures are part of Ofcom’s wider programme to ensure Fairness for Customers. This includes:
1. Source: Ofcom’s Switching Experience Tracker data.
2. People can also request their switching code online. Business customers will get this code within two working days. 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.
3. Under the new rules, mobile providers must publish and promote clear guidance to help customers follow the process.