Up until now, switching your mobile network has been a bit of a pain. It involves phoning the network, who will then try and persuade you to stay, which often makes the process slower and more painful. But that’s about to change.
But now, you can switch networks just by sending a text message.
It’s free, quick and easy. And, crucially, it means you’re in control of the whole process, not the networks. Which means you can switch to a new deal without having to phone someone up.
Here’s everything you need to know about text to switch, including how to do it.
What is Text to Switch?
It’s a major change in how British mobile phone users switch their network provider. Soon you’ll be able to switch network just by sending a free text message, which is considerably simpler than the current system.
That means you won’t have to speak to your current mobile network at all in order to switch. Just tell them you’re off via text message and they’ll have to provide you with all the info you need to be on your way.
How do you Text to Switch?
It’s wonderfully simple. When you want to switch network, you just contact your current provider to request the relevant code. You can do this by text message, online or by calling them.
You don’t have to tell your network that you’re leaving or explain your reasons why. Better still, all mobile networks have to use the same short codes, so no matter which provider you're with, you just need the following numbers:
Do you want to switch and keep your mobile number?
Text PAC to 65075 to get your code.
Your provider should send you a text containing your PAC pretty much straight away. This message will also include any important information about any early contract termination charges, outstanding handset costs or pay-as-you-go credit balances.
All you need to do then is give the PAC to your new provider and they will arrange for the switch to be completed within one working day. You don’t need to do anything else.
Do you want to switch and get a new mobile number?
Text STAC to 75075 to get your code.
Again, it's a really simple process. Once you've sent the text, you'll receive your STAC from your provider, along with any other relevant information about your final bill. All you need to do then is give the code to your new provider and they'll handle the rest.
Do you just want to find out more information?
Text INFO to 85075 to find this out.
If you’re not sure whether you’re still in contract with your provider and if you would have to pay charges to end your contract early, you can find this out without requesting a switching code.
How long does Text to Switch take?
Once you've texted to request your PAC or STAC, you should get a reply instantly. Businesses will receive a response within two working days.
Because the reply is so quick, you could send it while you’re in-store looking for a new handset or while on the phone to a potential new network provider.
Do I have to use my PAC code straight away?
Don’t worry, you don’t have to use this PAC code or cancellation code as soon as you receive it. In fact, you don’t have to use it at all, so don’t feel pressured into signing a new deal.
Each code is valid for 30 days. When you sign up to a new network, you just pass the code onto them and they make all the necessary arrangements. You don’t need to do anything else.
Why is Text to Switch being brought in?
Because the current system puts up too many hurdles in the way of the consumer. According to Ofcom research, 38% (around two in five) of mobile switchers say they have experienced at least one major problem when switching provider – that’s around 2.5 million people. And a whopping seven in 10 have experienced at least some difficulty.
What’s been causing them trouble? Major difficulties they’ve experienced include contacting their current provider (which 11% complained about), cancelling their service (10%) and getting the necessary information from their current provider (9%).
The new system aims to remove these obstacles, making switching a seamless process.
A guide to switching mobile phone provider
How does it benefit you?
It’s a lot quicker and simpler than the current process, and it means you don’t have to speak to your current network at all.
At the moment, speaking to your current network inevitably involves dealing with the retention department, those people whose job it is to persuade you to stay. While this can lead to some discounts and good deals, it can also hold up the whole process.
Under the new system, your switch will have to take effect in one working day. Though there are no rules banning your current network from calling you and trying to persuade you to stay.
It’ll also be cheaper. Under the new rules, mobile networks will be banned from charging notice periods running after the switch date. In other words, you won’t have to pay for your old and new services at the same time after you’ve switched. Ofcom estimates this will save customers £10 million a year.
It seems customers are in favour of text-to-switch. According to research agency Walnut, 42% of people would consider switching to a different mobile network, but this rises to 48% once they’ve had text-to-switch explained to them.
So could it be an incentive to switch? Quite possibly.
How does it benefit the mobile networks?
Text-to-switch should also be cheaper for the mobile networks. According to Ofcom, it will cost an estimated £44 million over 10 years, compared to £87 million for a one-stop process. It’s hoped these savings will be passed on to the customers.
What do the experts say?
Text to Switch will make changing mobile phone provider quicker and easier than ever before. So it’s no surprise that industry experts have a lot to say on the subject.
Director of Sky Mobile, Sophia Ahmad, said: “The arrival of text-to-switch will make it easier for customers to move to a mobile provider that has the right offer to meet their needs.
“When we launched Sky Mobile our aim was to be the most flexible network, giving customers choice and savings every month. Our approach has proved to be very popular – we surpassed the 1 million customer mark in June, and we’re confident we’ll continue to see success now switching mobile networks is so much easier for customers.”
Where can you find help?
All mobile networks will have to publish and promote clear guidance to help customers follow the new process. Head to your network’s website for more information.
Keen to switch? Check out our best mobile deals.