From Monday users can switch to a new provider within one working day without notice period charges
Mobile users now have the ability to switch providers with a single text message, under new Ofcom rules that have come into effect.
The communications regulator brought the system into effect after finding that many users held off switching to another provider due to the perception that it was too much trouble.
Under the new system, users who want to retain their number can begin the process by texting the word “PAC” to 65075.
The operator is required to respond within one minute with a porting authorisation code (PAC), along with important information such as early termination charges for contracts or outstanding pay-as-you-go balances.
The PAC is valid for 30 days, and after the user provides it to the new operator, the new company must arrange for the service to be switched within one working day.
Users who do not want to retain their number can begin the process by texting “STAC” (for “service termination authorisation code”) to 75075.
The system is designed to give users quick access to the PAC code, which formerly required a call to their operator.
Ofcom said users considered such calls a hassle as they were then often exposed to sales pitches.
The regulator instituted the new switching procedure after research found that one-third of users found it too difficult to switch operators.
Of those who considered switching but did not do so, 45 percent thought it would take up too much time and 39 percent thought it would be too difficult.
Notice period charges banned
“Breaking up with your mobile provider has never been easier thanks to Ofcom’s new rules,” Ofcom’s consumer group director, Lindsey Fussell, said in a statement. “You won’t need to have that awkward chat with your current provider to take advantage of the great deals available.”
As of Monday, 1 July, Ofcom has also banned operators from charging customers for notice periods running after the switch date, as long as the customer has provided the new company with a PAC or STAC.
Many users said they held off switching because it would mean paying both the old and new operator for a period of time, and Ofcom said the change could save users £10m a year.
“We know from the complaints we see that for too many people, switching mobile provider can be problematic and stressful,” said Jonathan Lenton, communications ombudsman at Ombudsman Services.
“It should be easy for all consumers to shop around for the best mobile deal. The new text-to-switch rules will help towards that goal and should also help to increase switching rates.”
Comparison site uSwitch said the changes were welcome but overdue.
The changes are part of a broader set of reforms that are to see the introduction of end-of-contract alerts for broadband, pay-TV and mobile phone and landline customers from 15 February 2020.