The new Ofcom regulations aim to make it much easier for mobile phone customers to switch network provider, which previously required a call to the existing provider to begin a process that could take, on average, several hours, and sometimes days! Ofcom found that more than 2.5 million people experienced at least one major problem when trying to switch, with 70% of people encountering some difficulty.
One of the main complaints from customers trying to switch was the frustrating and unwanted attempts by providers to talk them in to staying, something that was seen as a deterrent from switching in the first place.
Now, customers who are beyond the end date of their service contract can request a PAC or cancellation code by text message, which providers must supply immediately. The code is then valid for 30 days, after which a new code would need to be requested if not used. Providers are now also banned from charging leaving customers for a notice period that runs after the switch date.
Customers who have more than one number linked to their account, for example those with a family mobile package, will have to request the PAC online. Providers should have this option set up on their websites, and the process should still only take a short time to complete.
How Does it Work?
Customers will need to text a short code to their provider. The code that needs to be used depends on whether they want to keep their existing number or get a new number.
- Text ‘PAC’ to 65075 to leave your provider but keep your number.
- Text ‘STAC’ to 75075 to leave your provider and get a new number.
- Text ‘INFO’ to 85075 to find out if your contract has ended, or whether you will need to pay an exit fee.
Domestic customers should then receive their code immediately. Business customers will receive the code within 2 working days. The reply message should also include information about termination charges, handset charges or outstanding bills.
The codes sent can then be passed on to the new provider during setup, to allow the existing number to be be carried over. This switch should take no longer than 1 working day.
It is estimated that this new system will not only make it easier to switch providers, but will also save UK consumers around £10 million a year by avoiding the need to pay for overlapping contract fees.
You can read more about the new rules for switching on the Ofcom website.