Mobile users set to switch with just a text

19 December 2017

Mobile users will be able to switch provider using a free text, under new rules announced by the telecoms regulator.

From 1 July 2019, mobile users will be able to request a switching code by texting a free number, by going online or by calling their provider.

They’ll then immediately (or within two working days for businesses) receive a unique switching code to give to their new provider, which will be valid for 30 days. 

The new provider will facilitate the switch within one working day, with the old service ending on the same day.

There will be two text numbers available industry wide – one for those wanting a porting authorisation code (PAC), which enables users to keep their existing mobile number, and one for those who don’t want a new phone number.

Lindsey Fussell, Ofcom’s consumer group director, says: “Too many people are put off by the hassle of switching mobile provider. Our changes will make it quicker and easier for mobile phone users to get a better deal.

“Customers will control how much contact they have with their current mobile provider, preventing companies from delaying and frustrating the switching process.”

In addition, Ofcom says providers will also be banned from charging for notice periods that run after the switching date.

According to the regulator, 2 million switchers incur double payments when they move providers, paying for both their new and old service simultaneously for 20 days on average, equating to an extra charge of about £6 to £7 (£10 million in total each year).

However, while providers won’t be able to charge during the notice period, they can still levy other fees, such as early repayment charges if you cancel and switch mid-contract.

Ofcom adds that these “substantial reforms” require mobile operators to make several changes, which is why there is an 18-month implementation period before the rules take force in July 2019.

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