Ofcom makes it easier to change mobile providers

Ofcom wants it to become easier for customers to switch mobile phone contracts

One of the biggest hurdles in changing provider is having to speak to the current provider, and facing unwanted attempts to persuade the customer to stay, Ofcom said.

The simple text messaging system looks to alleviate this pain and bypass the need to bounce between various departments of a telecoms provider when swapping networks.

Lindsey Fussell, Ofcom's consumer group director, said the new rules would stop companies from "delaying and frustrating" the process.

The change is due to come in by July 2019, and Ofcom said it should mean fewer people are "put off by the hassle of switching mobile phone provider".

According to Ofcom, roughly two out of five mobile switchers (38%) - 2.5 million people - say they experienced at least one major problem when switching, while seven in ten encountered at least some difficulty.

To kickstart the new switch, the customer has the option of sending a text message to a free number, going online or calling their provider to request a code.

The watchdog said the new text message service would be brought in by July 2019, to give providers time to update their systems and co-ordinate it. Consumers will be able to pass the code on to a new provider when they place an order for a new service, without the need for any further discussion.

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This will put an end to people paying for old and new services at the same time, with the regulator claiming to be able to save consumers £10million a year.

A user will be able to text one code or the other to their current provider and receive either a porting authorisation code (PAC), needed for porting the number to another network, or a cancellation code for those who don't require their current number any longer.

The changes have been created to make the switching process significantly easier for customers, as providers often go to great lengths to persuade unsatisfied customers to stay.

Even better, once the code has been processed your old contract will terminate immediately, effectively ending any confusion or additional charges that might arise from the usual 30-day notice periods.

A Vodafone spokesman said: 'We agree that it should be simple for customers to select the service which best suits them and we are examining Ofcom's announcement. For business customers, providers will have up to two working days to supply the code.

'Customers should not have to pay twice to switch supplier, a change we have already implemented.

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