Mobile users across the UK can now switch network provider via text message in a move aimed at simplifying the process.
The new rules from the regulator Ofcom apply from today and are aimed at making it quicker and easier to leave one provider and start with another.
The decision to simplify the process was made after many consumers complainedthey found switching difficult, as it requires requesting a PAC code from their provider.
Under the new “text-to-switch” process, consumers text PAC to a number, after which the code is sent back. The code is valid for 30 days.
“The new process is designed to be quick and easy, so customers could request their code while looking for a new deal – for example, while on the phone to a new provider, or in store,” said Ofcom.
Consumers have also sometimes encountered difficulties in paying both their old and their new provider at the same time when switching.
Ofcom has now banned mobile providers from charging for notice periods running after the switch date. Ofcom estimates this will result in savings to the consumer of £10m a year.
Here is a guide on how customers can go about changing:
Why are these changes happening?
The changes have been introduced by telecoms regulator Ofcom with the aim of making it less hassle for people to switch network provider.
Until today, customers were required to ring their existing provider to set the process in motion, which usually led to the company making unwanted attempts to persuade customers to stay instead – something the watchdog believes deters people from switching.
How do I switch network provider via text message? Users who want to switch provider and keep their existing number can text the word “PAC” to 65075.
A PAC code (porting authorisation code), required to carry out a switch between two providers, will be sent back to the customer in a text message as well as any important contract information, like early termination charges if they are still in contract or any remaining credit for those on pay as you go.
People can then pass on the PAC code to their new provider, which is then required to carry out the switch within one working day.
The code is valid for 30 days.
Does it cost anything to switch via text message?
The text message switching service is free.
Is it possible to switch and get a new number instead?
For those who wish to change provider but receive a new mobile number instead of keeping their existing number can do so by texting “STAC” to 75075.
How do I get more information about my existing contract?
People wishing to find out whether they are still in contact without requesting a PAC code can text “INFO” to 85075 – a text response from their existing provider will outline any final bill costs.
What if I have more than one number linked to my account?
Customers with more than one number linked to their account, such as families, cannot request a PAC code via text.
Instead, they will need to get one from their current provider’s website – this should also be received within one minute.
Notice periods that run after the switch date have also been banned by Ofcom, which it believes will save UK mobile customers around £10 million a year.