UK mobile users can now switch networks with a text

New Text to Switch rules from Ofcom come into effect in the UK today, allowing users to quickly switch plans or network provider, and let them keep their existing phone number as well – all with a simple text.

According to Ofcom, many people become frustrated when their provider attempts to make them stay. Almost half of those who chose not to switch said the process was too time-consuming, while a slightly lower number were put off by having to contact multiple providers.

Previously, if you wanted to switch to a new provider it may be necessary to go through the long process of calling up your provider, being kept on hold for a while, speaking to a support agent, transferred to retention’s where they offer you the world to stay and then eventually cancelling your current deal.

From today, if a customer wants to switch and keep their existing phone number, they just text ‘PAC’ to 65075 to begin the process. Their carrier will be forced to respond within a minute, sending over a code which will be valid for 30 days.

The user then gives the code to their new provider, who will then arrange for the switch to be completed in one working day.

If a mobile user wishes to change their number, they must text ‘STAC’ to 75075 to ask for a ‘service termination authorisation code’.

In another attempt to make the process more transparent, anyone wanting to find out whether they need to pay any early termination charges can text ‘INFO’ to 85075.

Every UK network and provider will now have to offer this service and they will have to let their customers know about any hidden costs, outstanding handset balances or pay-as-you-go credit.

Consumers have also sometimes encountered difficulties in paying both their old and their new provider at the same time when switching. Ofcom has also banned providers from charging for notice periods running after the switch date which is set to save mobile customers £10m a year.

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.”

The move comes as part of a push by the regulator to make life easier for people dealing with their communications. Under the new rules, providers will have to publish clear guidance to help customers follow the new process, as a result making better switching decisions.

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