Thousands of Family Mobile, IKEA Mobile and Smarter Mobile customers will no longer be able to use their pay-as-you-go (PAYG) service from 31 August, although they will get a refund of unused credit following a U-turn by the provider.

About 5,000 customers of the three pay-as-you go brands, which piggy-back off the EE network, received emails this month telling them their PAYG service will close from 31 August 2015.

The move follows a takeover of Coms Mobile, which owned the three brands, by business mobile provider, Timico, in May 2015.

Family Mobile, IKEA Mobile and Smarter Mobile were Coms Mobile's consumer facing businesses, all of which offered PAYG services only, on a Sim-only basis.

However, while new owner Timico initially told customers it would not offer refunds of unused credit after 31 August, it has since backtracked on this decision following complaints from users.

It says a refund procedure will be published on the Family Mobile homepage on 31 August, and adds that there won't be any charge for customers to get their money back. On average, customers have approximately £6 of credit on their Sims.

Martin Lewis
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Can I still use my phone until 31 August?

Family Mobile, IKEA Mobile and Smarter Mobile customers can continue to use their PAYG service as normal until 31 August, as long as they have enough credit to make calls and send texts.

Unfortunately, if you run out of credit, you will no longer be able to top-up as the ability to do this was closed on 1 July 2015.

Can I keep my phone number and switch elsewhere?

If you want to move to a different provider and keep your mobile number, you can request a PAC code by emailing needhelp@yourfamilymobile.co.uk, or by calling 020 7148 4747. Timico says there are no penalties for customers to leave.

See our Cheap Mobile Phones guide for 30+ tips to help find the best deal for you.

If you want to stay with Timico, any outstanding balance can be transferred to your new account. You'll need to email Timico at service@timico.co.uk, or call 01636 858 919 to do this.

Timico offers business-only, contract tariffs. However, these are available for consumers too, although they may not be right for your needs – so check first.

Family Mobile to close, but unused credit will be refunded
Family Mobile, IKEA Mobile and Smarter Mobile customers will not be able to use the service after August

Why are the services closing?

Timico says Coms Mobile was a loss-making service and it's therefore not able to continue operating it for a number of "operational" and "commercial" reasons.

A spokesperson for the provider adds: "We regret the impact this has on each of our customers. We've provided as much notice as we possibly can and are trying to make the migration to a Timico mobile contract, or another operator's PAYG mobile service as smooth as possible."