Tech Updates

Ofcom Makes It Easier to Change Phone Providers

Following a review by the telecoms industry regulator Ofcom, customers looking to switch mobile phone providers should find it noticeably easier in the not-too-distant future, thanks to moves to allow us to do so by simply sending a free text message.

According to Ofcom, the change, due to be implemented by July the 1st, 2019, will simplify the process and prevent us having to directly contact the provider that we’re planning to leave.

This will, no doubt, be a relief to many, as almost forty percent of phone users say they’ve experienced major difficulties – and seven out of ten have had at least one issue – while trying to change providers.

So, How Will it Work?

At present, if we want to switch providers but still retain our existing phone number, we have to contact our current supplier and request a Porting Authorisation Code, known, for short, as a PAC. We then pass this code on to our new provider. And, even if we want to switch without keeping our old number, we still have to contact our old provider, in order to cancel their service.

However, the changes announced by Ofcom mean that, in future, we’ll just need to send a free text message to our current company, or contact them online, in order to be sent either the PAC or a cancellation code. Once we’ve got the PAC, we’ll then pass it on to our new provider.

Our current company must respond immediately, creating a fast and straightforward process. That company’s message to us will also include information about any termination charges, outstanding handset costs and/or our pay-as-you-go credit balance.

Not only is this more convenient for us but, according to Ofcom, it will also prevent us having to endure our current provider making unwanted attempts to convince us to stay when we contact them.

The new rules will also see mobile companies being barred from charging for notice periods that run after the switch date. Ofcom claim this will prevent us having to pay for old and new services simultaneously. Something which they claim could save UK mobile customers in the region of £10m each year.

Are the Changes Perfect?

Although the new system is designed to make swapping mobile phone companies easier, the process will still differ from that used in some other industries. For instance, when it comes to UK energy suppliers, the new provider effectively takes over the process and is responsible for producing a smooth hand-over.

When it comes to mobile telephony, however, the fact that we currently have to directly contact our provider means such companies will often make an attempt to hold on to us at that point, rather than having encouraged our loyalty earlier. Because of this, providers can often save the best deals for those who are actively threatening to switch.

However, while the new system may bring an end to that practice; in a bid to convince us to stay, our provider may still attempt to contact us after we’ve received the code. But, until the changes are brought in, it won’t be clear just how it will affect the way in which mobile phone providers treat their more loyal customers.