Mobile phone switching confusion costs consumers £5.8bn in savings, survey finds

More than two-thirds haven't changed provider in the last three years

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Confusion around switching mobile phone provider is costing consumers £5.8 billion in savings every year, according to a study.

More than two-thirds (69%) of UK mobile users have not changed provider in the last three years and 25% have never switched at all, the survey by uSwitch found.

Almost half of mobile users (48%) do not know what a PAC (porting authorisation code) is - required to move an existing number to a new provider - and 30% do not know how to do this, the poll found.

The main incentive for the 25% that have switched in the past two years was to gain a cheaper deal (34%), while 18% of them left because their network had poor or patchy mobile coverage or reception.

USwitch said mobile users who had not changed networks were potentially missing out on savings of up to £176 a year.

Some 41% said they would be more likely to move if the network gaining their custom handled the switch.

Ernest Doku, telecoms spokesman at uSwitch.com, said: "No matter how tech savvy the smart phone generation is becoming, the process of moving to another network can still be baffling and somewhat intimidating.

"As it stands, the responsibility falls to the customer to contact their current provider to request their PAC, and more than likely having to run the retentions gauntlet.

"Unless you can't get a signal, for many it may feel this is simply not worth the effort - the upshot being they're likely to just stick on their current plan, and miss out on potentially huge monetary savings or a better suited tariff."

He added: "The news that Ofcom is looking to finesse this process can't come soon enough.

"Of the two options, the numbers clearly suggest that consumers favour changing the switching process so the gaining network drives it.

"That should make providers work that little bit harder to win and proactively keep your business."

:: Opinium surveyed 2,011 UK adults between February 10-14.