It should be easy to change your mobile phone provider to get a better deal. In practice though, we all know switching can be a real hassle. Now Ofcom says it plans to make the process much simpler and quicker.
The regulator has put forward ideas that it thinks will remove some of the barriers to switching.
They include making it easier to get hold of your PAC – the code that lets you keep hold of your existing number when you switch provider – by being sent it in a text.
This would save you having to phone your existing provider – as you do at the moment – waiting on hold, before being put through to cancellations and then transferred to the sales team where they try to persuade you to stay.
Another idea (and one that we called for as part of our Unlock Better Mobile Deals campaign) is a complete change in how switching works – in the same way Ofcom has already made it easier to switch provider for landline and the majority of broadband customers.
What would the new switching system be and why would it be better?
With the current system, once you’ve researched and found a better deal you have to contact your old provider to cancel your contract. At this point, the provider starts to offer you deals, which you haven’t seen as an existing customer.
If you do still choose to leave, the provider will often want 30 days notice, which means coordinating with your new provider so you don’t get double billed, or left without service.
Under Ofcom’s proposed new system, your new provider would arrange everything, including transferring your number and making sure the switch goes smoothly. You wouldn’t have to deal with your current provider at all.
And because it’s easier for you to move, mobile firms would have to start offering their best deals up front rather than hiding them away only for those with the patience to wrangle a better offer.
Will this be the end of haggling for a better deal?
Far from it. Moving to a system where your new provider handles the whole switch means your current provider will need to do more to keep your business.
In the European countries that already have this system, providers can still contact customers who’ve told them they want to switch to offer a deal to win them back. The only difference is they’re chasing you with the better deal, rather than you having to push them.
Ofcom’s consultation about its plans runs until 6 October.
Have you faced problems in switching mobile provider. What do you think of Ofcom’s ideas? Will this relieve some of the difficulties you face when trying to find a better deal?
UPDATE 16 September 2015 – customer service survey results
The results of our annual survey of the UK’s 100 biggest brands has revealed telecoms providers are rated among the lowest for customer service. The mobile providers Vodafone and EE languish towards the bottom of the rankings, with customer scores of 66% and 69% respectively.
Nearly nine in 10 people told us that poor service puts them off using a company again, so we want to know what would make it easier for you to switch.
As we’ve shared in the above conversation, Ofcom is consulting on new measures to improve switching mobile providers. Now we’d like you to vote on two of those options – which of the following Ofcom proposals will make switching easier for you?
Which of the following ideas would be most likely to help you switch mobile provider?
Only needing to contact my new mobile provider to manage the whole switching process (74%, 762 Votes)
Being able to text my mobile provider to immediately get a code to transfer my number to a new provider (24%, 245 Votes)
Other (please tell us in the comments) (2%, 23 Votes)
Total Voters: 1,030