Ofcom said the “text-to-switch” process will make it quicker and easier for people to leave their mobile network
Mobile phone users in the UK will be able to switch provider by sending a text message from Monday, under new regulator rules.
Currently, people wanting to switch mobile operator and keep their phone number have to call their existing provider to request a “porting authorisation code” or PAC.
Ofcom said the new “text-to-switch” process will make it quicker and easier for people to leave their mobile company by giving them control over how much contact they have with the firm.
A survey for the regulator suggests that nearly a third of mobile switchers (31%) find it difficult to cancel their previous service, making it the biggest obstacle to going through the process.
Of those who consider switching but then choose not to, 45% decide it would be too time consuming and 39% are put off by the hassle of needing to contact more than one provider.
“Breaking up with your mobile provider has never been easier thanks to Ofcom’s new rules,” said Lindsey Fussell, Ofcom’s consumer group director.
“You won’t need to have that awkward chat with your current provider to take advantage of the great deals available.”
How to ‘Text to Switch’
Customers who want to switch and keep their existing phone number can from Monday 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.
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’.
Customers can also text ‘INFO’ to 85075 to find out if they are still ‘in contract’, and would have to pay any early termination charges.
Under Ofcom’s new rules, mobile providers will also be banned from charging for notice periods running after the switch date.
This, the regulator said, will put an end to people paying for old and new services at the same time, saving UK mobile customers around £10 million a year.
“Switching supplier should be a quick and easy process, with minimum disruption to the customer,” said Natalie Hitchins, Head of Home Products and Services at consumer group Which?
“The introduction of text-to-switch is a step in the right direction, and we welcome the ban on customers having to pay for old and new services at the same time.
“However, we are disappointed that the regulator hasn’t taken steps to ensure that customers’ new providers handle the switching process, as is the case in the energy market.”