Mobile customers can leave their network by sending a 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.
Ofcom said the new text-to-switch process will make it quicker and easier for people to leave their mobile company. It will also give them control over how much contact they have with the network.
After sending a single free text, customers should be switched within one working day. However, there may be early termination fees if you leave before the notice period of your existing contract.
Customers wishing to and keep their existing phone number, text ‘PAC’ to 65075 to begin the process.
Their current provider will reply by text within a minute. They will send a 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.
Customers then give the PAC to their new provider, which must arrange for the switch to be completed within one working day.
This new process is designed to be quick and easy, so customers could request their 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, customers will 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.
Notice-period charges banned
Ofcom said its 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.”