Mobile customers can switch provider by sending a text message from Monday under new regulator rules.
Currently, people wanting to switch mobile operator and keep their phone number usually have to call their existing provider to request a “porting authorisation code” or PAC.
In the process, many find themselves dealing with unwanted attempts by the firm to persuade them to stay.
Ofcom said the new “text-to-switch” process will make it quicker and easier for people to leave their mobile company by giving them control over how much contact they have with the firm.
A survey for the regulator suggests that nearly a third of mobile switchers (31%) find it difficult to cancel their previous service, making it the biggest obstacle to going through the process.
Of those who consider switching but then choose not to, 45% decide it would be too time consuming and 39% are put off by the hassle of needing to contact more than one provider.
Customers who want to switch and keep their existing phone number can from Monday text ‘PAC’ to 65075 to begin the process.
Their existing provider will respond by text within a minute.
They will be sent their switching code (PAC), which will be valid for 30 days.
The provider’s reply must also include important information about any early termination charges or pay-as-you-go credit balances.
The customer then gives the code to their new provider, and this company must arrange for the switch to complete within one working day.
While most people want to keep their mobile number when they switch, around one in six do not.
These customers can text ‘STAC’ to 75075 to request a ‘service termination authorisation code’.
The rest of the process is the same as above and takes away the difficulty of having to talk to the provider if the customer simply wants to leave.
Customers can also text ‘INFO’ to 85075 to find out if they are still ‘in contract’, and would have to pay any early termination charges.
Under Ofcom’s new rules, mobile providers will also be banned from charging for notice periods running after the switch date.
This, the regulator said, will put an end to people paying for old and new services at the same time, saving UK mobile customers around £10 million a year.
Customers need to give their new provider the PAC or STAC number, so their old and new mobile companies can make sure there is no double payment.
Lindsey Fussell, Ofcom’s consumer group director, said: “Breaking up with your mobile provider has never been easier thanks to Ofcom’s new rules.
“You won’t need to have that awkward chat with your current provider to take advantage of the great deals available.”