Text to Switch mobile rules will save Brits £325m a year
A new rule called Text to Switch means that from next week mobile phone users will be able to send a text message to their network if they want to move their phone number to a different network.
In return they will immediately be sent a porting authorisation code (PAC ) if they want to keep their current mobile number, or a cancellation code if they want a new number.
According to uSwitch.com, at least 15 per cent of mobile users are out of contract and cumulatively paying £27.4m more than they should be every month – resulting in a total overspend of more than £325m a year. These customers will now be able to switch to a new and better deal almost instantly.
According to Ofcom, two in five switchers have experienced difficulties in moving to a different network in the past. Some have struggled to take their existing number to their new handset, while others have found it hard to navigate websites or got frustrated with automated call centres.
Many people who call their network to switch providers or end of their contract are subject to lengthy sales pitches, trying to convince them to stay put.
uSwitch says Text to Switch will also eliminate the potential for consumers to pay for two different services – their old and their new deals – at the same time.
Richard Neudegg, head of regulation at uSwitch.com, said: “Too many mobile phone customers experience difficulties when changing to a different network.
“It should be networks’ best interests to make switching as easy as possible. If the process is slow and cumbersome people will quickly become frustrated. But a slick and speedy service will boost consumer confidence and increase the likelihood they will switch – a win for consumers and the industry.
“Text to Switch should make things far more simple. People who are out of contract, for example, overpay by an average of £8.17 a month due to their monthly payment still including a handset element, even though the handset has already been paid off. They are essentially paying again for something they already own.
“The theoretical hassle of switching has now been reduced, and the potential savings for millions of customers should make this a no-brainer.”
How does Text to Switch work?
Customers will text one of two memorable short codes, depending on whether or not they wish to keep their existing mobile telephone number. All mobile providers will use the same short codes.
A customer’s existing provider must immediately respond by text – with either a porting authorisation code for those wishing to keep their phone number, or a cancellation code for those who want a new number.
While consumers will get the codes immediately by text, businesses will receive the codes within two working days.
The provider’s reply must also include important information about any early termination charges, outstanding handset costs, or pay-as-you-go credit balances.
The unique switching code will be valid for 30 days. A customer will be able to pass the code on to their new provider at the point they place an order for their new service, without the need for any further conversation.
Mobile providers will also be banned from charging for notice periods running after the switch date. This will put an end to people paying for old and new services at the same time. uSwitch calculated this will save UK mobile customers about £10m in total each year.