Mobile phone users may find it easier to change provider in future, as communications regulator Ofcom has today launched a consultation on how to improve switching.
Currently, switching involves coordinating contracts between your existing and new provider. You have to do the legwork and plan accordingly so you're not stuck paying two contracts for longer than necessary.
If you want to keep your existing number, you also have to ask your original provider for a 'porting authorisation code' (PAC) and give it to your new provider – something which Ofcom says can be made difficult by the provider you're switching away from.
Switching rates for mobile services have fallen from 9% to 6% between 2013 and 2014, according to Ofcom research, and the regulator is concerned that the process is confusing and could mean many are missing out on better deals because there is the belief that switching is too hard.
Guy Anker, managing editor at MoneySavingExpert.com agrees. He says: "The process to switch mobile phone provider is convoluted and admin-heavy, and customers need to keep on top of the switch to avoid paying twice.
"It's vital the system is significantly simplified so customers only need to deal with the new provider as they do on so many other types of switching. Only then will people have the true confidence to get themselves a better deal."
What has Ofcom suggested to improve switching?
One suggestion Ofcom has come up with it that switching should be led by your new provider. This means you'd no longer have to call your original provider to cancel, your new provider would handle this for you in the same way as energy, banking and, more recently, broadband switching (see our Ofcom implementing easier telecoms switching MSE News story).
Its second recommendation is for mobile users to be able to text or call an automated system to obtain a PAC code, rather than having to call their existing provider and speaking to someone.
The closing date for responses to the consultation is 6 October 2015, although Ofcom expects a further consultation in early 2016.
Separately Ofcom is also examining consumers' experiences of switching "triple play" – landline, broadband and pay TV – services between providers using the Openreach, Virgin Media cable or Sky satellite networks.