Switching mobile contracts to be easier with the end of the PAC code?
Switching your mobile provider can be a bit of a hassle, but Ofcom would like to see the process made even easier, if you want to keep your number. The watchdog says that around 5.9 million mobile owners haven't switched because it looks like it'll be too difficult.
Of course, that means consumers could end up being stuck in contracts that are less than favourable to them, which works in favour of the mobile companies.
Ofcom have said that they're talking to mobile firms which they hope will "take the hassle out of switching".
If you want to switch providers and keep your number, you have to get a PAC number (full name - 'porting authorisation code'). We did a guide on how to change your mobile provider, which is easier than you might think it is.
Either way, Ofcom want the whole process to be much easier, and would like to see an end to any customer having to pay for two contracts at the same time, no matter how brief that period is.
Ideally, the watchdog would like to see mobile companies handling the switching process on behalf of the customer, which means you wouldn't have to ask for a PAC code at all. Basically, it'd be like switching energy companies, or broadband contracts, where you can choose the start date of your new contract, to try and avoid any overlap in payments, or avoid any periods where you're not connected (whether or not various companies live up to the agreement is another thing entirely).
The long and short of it is this - 2.5 million customers per year end up paying for two contracts at once during a switching period, which is costing them money they shouldn't have to spend. Sadly, Ofcom are not able to force mobile companies to accept their new rules, but the businesses will have to provide an alternative.
It looks like the other scenario will see customers to request their PAC code via email or text message - at the moment, you have to ring up for it, which can be pointlessly time-consuming, and you'll have to deal with the pleading from the various retention teams. It looks like there's going to be a decision made on what happens next in Autumn.
Sharon White, chief executive at Ofcom, says: "It is unacceptable for people to be missing out on better mobile deals because they fear the hassle of switching, or are put off having had a poor experience in the past. We want mobile customers to benefit from speedier, simpler switching, making it easier for them to vote with their feet and take advantage of choice in the market."