For a long time, having to call your mobile phone network and ask for a PAC or STAC code was standard practice when changing mobile phone provider.
For many consumers, the process wasn't a straight-forward one. Ofcom reported that almost one third of those switching network found it difficult to cancel their service. Out of those who wanted to switch but decided not to, 45% ended up not bothering because it was too time consuming, with 39% being put off by the hassle it would be.
One of the discouraging facts about changing network provider was having to deal with the inevitable sales tactics being used to persuade you to stay with their network. But why should you have to call a sales line when all you want to do is move to a new network? Well that's what these new rules from Ofcom are set out to address.
Instead of the company having the upper hand, Ofcom are now putting you in the driver's seat. Text-to-switch means you can now switch mobile phone provider by sending a text message; no interaction with those pests in customer retentions necessary...
Text 'PAC' to 65075 to change provider and keep your number.
Once you've done that, you should receive your PAC code almost immediately. The message will include your PAC code along with important information regarding your contract, such as early termination charges, outstanding costs, or credit balances — if applicable.
When you take your PAC code to your new network, they will have to move your phone number over within one working day. That means you could have a new phone and new network plan — with the same number, all in the course of a single day. The PAC code will only be valid for 30 days, so make sure you take it to your new provider before your time runs out. If you surpass the 30 day period, you will have to contact your current provider to obtain a new PAC code.
If your phone is incessantly plagued by spam calls, you might want to start fresh; turn over a new leaf even. If that's the case...
Text 'STAC' to 5075 to change provider and get a new number.
The same rules apply with STAC codes. You will receive your STAC code quickly and your new network will have you moved over within a day. The message will contain the same information regarding your contract and will be valid for 30 days.
Maybe you just want the lowdown on your service. If that's the case:
Text 'INFO' to 85075 to find out if you're still in contract, and about any applicable charges that may apply.
With the introduction of text-to-switch also comes the end to additional notice-period charges. When you change provider, you are supposed to give 30 days' notice. In that period, you would have typically been charged your normal network fee (this is the Notice Period Charge), which applies even outside your minimum contract term.
However, in using the PAC or STAC switching process, networks will not be allowed to impose such fees, as Ofcom have effectively done away with the Notice Period Charge. Without these overlapping charges, you can be free to enjoy the benefits of your new network — without having to pay for both services at the same time.
It's important to note that this rule only applies if you are switching provider with a STAC or PAC code. If you are simply cancelling your contract, you still have to honour the 30 day notice period, which means you will have to pay any bills within that 30 day period. So, if you have no intention of staying with your provider for a day longer, using text-to-switch is the ideal way to change mobile phone provider if you want to save money.
The new changes are really geared towards making the switch seamless. That's why you can also request your switching code online. Business customers will receive a new code within two working days. Anyone who has multiple numbers linked to their account will only be able to request a PAC code online.
The new text-to-switch rules are part of a wider programme of work which demonstrates Ofcom are committed to protecting consumers from harmful practices and ensuring fairness for all. By keeping you safe from aggressive sales tactics and unjust fees when making choices as a consumer, it gives you more freedom and control. Companies will simply have to be more honest and transparent moving forward. For example, Ofcom are also currently considering greater transparency with bundled airtime and handset contracts, as well as amending unfair broadband price hikes after your initial year, so things do appear to be going in that direction. If you want to know more, visit Ofcom's Annual plan for 2019/2020.