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Changing mobile provider? You can 'text-to-switch' from today

Mobile phone customers will be able to 'text-to-switch' providers from today – meaning they won't have to speak to their current provider to cancel their contracts.

Currently you have to phone your current mobile provider when you want to switch to a new firm, and request a 'porting authorisation code' (PAC) to give to your new provider if you want to keep the same phone number.

But the communications regulator Ofcom says the need to speak to your provider can be one of the main hurdles to switching, with firms often trying to persuade customers to stay.

So from today (Monday 1 July), you'll be able to cancel your contract by sending a single free text, and ask your new provider to switch you within one working day – regardless of whether you have a contract or pay-as-you-go phone.

Once you're out of your minimum contract, mobile providers will also be banned from charging you for the remainder of your notice period after you've switched (which is typically 30 days), putting an end to paying for your old and new contract at the same time. You will, however, still be charged early termination fees if you leave before the notice period of your existing contract.

All of the major mobile networks including Vodafone, O2, EE, Giffgaff and Three confirmed to last week that they'd have implemented the new service by today (Monday).

See our 30 Cheap Mobile Tips for more on cutting the cost of your mobile phone.

How will one-text switching work?

From 1 July, you'll be able to request a switching code via text to give to a new provider, and ask your new provider to switch you within one working day.

Here's how to switch provider under the new rules:

  1. You'll request a switching code by text. You'll send a text to one of two numbers, depending on whether you want to keep your existing number or not. You'll text 'PAC' to 65075 to keep your old number or 'STAC' to 75075 get a new one.

    As well as texting, you'll also have the option to go online or ring your provider.

  2. Your existing provider will immediately send you the code. Its text must also include important info such as any exit penalties, outstanding handset costs or credit balances.

  3. You need to give the switching code to your new provider within 30 days. You'll then be switched within one working day. You won't need to contact your old provider again.

If you're not sure whether you are still 'in contract', and would have to pay any early termination charges, you can simply text 'INFO' to 85075 to find this out without requesting a switching code.

Can my existing provider still call me to persuade me to stay?

Your provider will STILL be permitted to call you to try to and persuade you to stay, although crucially you won't need any details from it, so you can decline and end the call when you want.

If you don't answer the call your switch will go ahead as planned.

'Text-to-switch' doesn't mean you can't haggle

If you're coming to the end of your contract, or are out of it, you're wielding a powerful weapon: customer loyalty. Companies desperately want to keep you, so if they believe they will lose you, you can often get much better deals.

Ringing your mobile provider and telling it you wish to leave is often a great haggling tool, as we explain in our Mobile Phone Haggling guide.

So if you want to haggle after the new rules come in, it may be worth ringing your current provider instead of texting it. See our Sim only Deals to benchmark the best prices.

'Millions overpay on hideously expensive mobile contracts' deputy editor Guy Anker said: "Millions overpay on hideously expensive mobile contracts, so anything that makes it easier to switch is welcome and this move lowers one of the barriers that stops people from ditching dodgy deals.

"Most people who've not switched or haggled in the past couple of years probably overpay, as Sim prices have fallen in that time.

"Among that group are people being ripped off where they've rolled off a contract yet are still paying the inflated monthly price that includes the handset cost – even though they've already paid it off in full.

"My message to all mobile users is check what you pay, and if you're out of contract and can find a better deal – whether a Sim only or a new contract with a new handset – then switch and save. It's now even easier."

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