/ Technology

Mobile providers: should I stay or should I go?

Switching mobile provider

Ofcom has revealed plans that could allow customers to switch mobile providers via text message. But would such plans really help you switch?

After eight years with O2 I’m changing mobile phone provider.

I recently decided I had to shop around for a better deal to reduce my monthly payments. In truth, I hoped my provider would match or improve upon the best deal I found to keep my custom. I’ve generally had a good experience and it would be less hassle for me to stay. The process of ordering a new SIM, giving notice, activating a new account and switching numbers – it’s not fun.

It’s good to walk

Unfortunately, O2 haven’t been able to offer me good enough incentives to stay, so I decided to vote with my feet and move on. In reality, I know I’m in a minority. Few people have the patience to find and switch to a better deal.

When your contract ends or you see the monthly direct debit come out and cringe, it’s much easier to accept the fate your provider stows upon you. I’m not convinced a provider’s retention strategy should rely upon their customers’ complacency. That definitely doesn’t create market competition in the interest of the consumer.

Gaining Provider Led (GPL) switching is a well-established practise in many markets, and is in fact something we campaigned long and hard for. GPL puts the responsibility of the switch with your new provider. When I moved bank last year I simply called up my new one to tell them I wanted to open a new account and they did everything else. I couldn’t believe how easy it was and wish I’d done it sooner. Practises like this put the onus on the new provider, making them all work a little bit harder to keep and attract customers while you sit back and relax.

New message

Ofcom’s latest announcement goes some way to addressing this. It plans to introduce a ‘text-to-switch’ service. So, instead of having to call up your current provider and tell them they want to leave, customers can text them.

Well at least this is one way to avoid the awkward phone calls where you’re talked into staying when you rang to switch. While this plan could make it easier to switch, it does still leave consumers to do all the switching leg work.

Ofcom’s consultation on these proposals runs until 30 June, with a decision expected in the autumn.

So what do you think to this proposal? Have you tried switching mobile phone provider before? Do you think there’s a better way to improve switching?


This comment was removed at the request of the user

I had the same experience with o2. They would not match giffgaff which is rather ridiculous seeing it is the same network. o2 do have lots of non-phone offers for customers, but they have never had one that I wanted so not worth anything to me.

So I am still using the o2 network, but at a cheaper rate with giffgaff, go figure.

I frequently see comments like “I just wet myself” “I’ve just done the biggest p**” come up on my facebook timeline as friends/relations have left their phone unlocked.
I hope there’s going to be something more than just sending a code to switch and get an instant response with a code to send to the next provider. Cos I can imagine many people switching provider without knowing.

Gary says:
24 May 2017

Interesting – however unless the reply back informs you that you are still XX months into an XX month contract, and termination charges of £XXX will apply, then I can see a lot of people getting frustrated with this when they receive a huge bill the following month

This comment was removed at the request of the user

To retain the same mobile number it is necessary to obtain your PAC code to give to the new service provider. From my limited experience, this can result in questions about why you are leaving your existing provider and an invitation to discuss tariffs. I don’t want to play these silly games, so choosing a new provider and sending a text appeals to me.

I’m sure a lot of the current carry on is to persuade customers into getting a new contact with a new phone.

I contacted O2 about an upgrade of my wife’s mobile wanting the iPhone 7, 32GB (not advertised on their website, only the 128 & 256GB models). I wanted to pay for the phone upfront and was quoted £569 which was £10 less than offered by Carphone Warehouse and £97 less than Tesco, a reasonable deal, I thought.

O2’s system would not accept payment for the device in full, so I said I’d go with their “Refresh” option (basically, you buy the handset on a separate contract, but can pay the balance off whenever you wish) providing the handset was still £569. NO, was the answer, it would be considerably more. I said this could lead me to leaving O2, and was simply told “that’s your choice”. So I bought the unlocked iPhone 7 from Carphone Warehouse and put my wife onto a SIM only contract at £9 p.m. with 2GB of data but staying with O2. That SIM only deal worked out £2 p.m. less than Tesco. Wife’s happy, so I’m happy!


I was mugged and my phone (S7 edge) was stolen. I claimed a new phone (also an S7 edge) on insurance, they charged me £60 excess and sent me a new phone within a few days. Alright so far.

I opened the box, the screen had some kind of pixel problem and quickly became unusable. This is where the nightmare starts. I called Vodafone, they said I need a “like for like” exchange but I need to go to a store so that they can see the damaged phone and document it on their system before I can arrange an exchange. I did, they did and so I called again.

They arranged for a delivery service to exchange another new phone for the broken phone on the door within 3- 5 days. Day 3, I called to make sure it’s on its way, they said wait until the full 5 days. I waited the full 5 days, nothing. I called again, they said it had been cancelled because they had ran out of stock. This time however I have to return the phone in a Jiffy bag they will send me within 3 days.

You can see where this is going. No Jiffy bag by day 3, I called again. Again, not sent. I called up again, ‘Sorry, it’s not a Jiffy bag you need. You need to go to your local store and drop the broken phone off there’.

OK, so I drive again to the nearest store and say “I was told to give this to you”. “Can you send this back so I can get a new phone that works?”. I received a cold and defensive service at the store, not once did I hear an apology for the troubles I had been through. He even tried to blame me! I called Vodafone customer service when I was in the store again (the store members aren’t allowed to liase with customer service directly), they explained that unfortunately all the previous customer advice I received was “mis-advice” and that what I actually need to do was send the phone for repair. I need to send the broken phone they had sent me for repair. He explained that I should expect a call at the end of next week that will explain how I go about doing this.

Three weeks later, I still do not have a working phone. I continue to pay my contract and my Christmas is ruined. I am trapped in a Kafkaesque nightmare.