Mobile users will be able to switch their supplier by sending a simple text message from Monday – in an attempt to make the process easier.
Under the new rules imposed by the telecoms regulator, contract customers will no longer have to contact their provider to request a “porting authorisation code” or PAC.
The old system has been blamed for creating a frustrating process – with firms accused of dragging their heels as part of attempts to get consumers to stop leaving their provider.
It brings the sector into line with others – such as banking and household energy – which have faced shake-ups to minimise switching barriers and delays.
Ofcom revealed on Friday what mobile customers need to do to switch easily between mobile phone providers:
- Customers who want to switch and keep their existing phone number should text ‘PAC’ to 65075 to begin the process.
- Their existing provider will respond by text within a minute.
- They will then be sent their switching code (PAC), which will be valid for 30 days.
- The provider’s reply must also include information on any early termination charges or pay-as-you-go credit balances.
- The customer then gives the code to their new provider who 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.
The regulator said this will stop people paying for old and new services at the same time, saving UK mobile customers a total of around £10m a year.
Customers will 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.”