In a win for our Unlock Better Mobile Deals campaign, Ofcom has announced plans to overhaul mobile phone switching. With almost six million mobile users having never switched due to concerns about the current process, it’s time for change.
Ofcom has outlined two alternative options to make switching your mobile provider quicker and simpler.
First up is Ofcom’s preferred option and also the option we’ve been campaigning for over the years, with the backing of more than 75,000 supporters. This option is something called ‘gaining provider-led’ switching. This simply means that the responsibility of the switch is entirely in the hands of your new provider. Just like when switching bank or energy supplier, you won’t need to contact your existing provider to swap mobile providers.
Ofcom’s second option is to make it easier to take your mobile number with you. This would mean that you’d be able to request your ‘PAC’ code by text message or online.
Sharon White, Ofcom’s chief executive, said:
‘It is unacceptable for people to be missing out on better mobile deals because they fear the hassle of switching, or are put off having had a poor experience in the past.
‘We want mobile customers to benefit from speedier, simpler switching, making it easier for them to vote with their feet and take advantage of choice in the market.’
Our executive director Richard Lloyd said:
‘It needs to be much simpler for people to switch mobile providers with the company gaining the customer leading the process. Ofcom has been promising action on this issue for some time and this change must now be brought in without delay.’
If you want to see Ofcom bring through simpler switching straight away, please sign our petition to unlock better mobile deals.
EE has announced that it will be dropping all fees to unlock mobile phones.
Unlike customers on other mobile networks, Vodafone, EE and Three customers are charged one bundled price for their handset, minutes, texts and data.
Here’s what these three major mobile networks had to say in response to our research:
A spokesman for Vodafone said:
'We offer competitive pricing on both 12 and 24 month contracts which often include a handset as part of the bundle. We’re clear with our customers on when their contract ends – through customer services, their online account and the My Vodafone app.
'We also proactively contact the vast majority of pay monthly customers before their contract ends to discuss the best possible bundle for their future needs.
'At the end of the contractual period customers are able to upgrade and take a new handset or move their contract to a SIM Only plan.'
A spokesperson for EE said:
‘Separating phone and tariff doesn’t always represent the best deal for consumers and can sometimes result in them paying more. EE customers have the flexibility to choose the tariff and upfront phone cost that is right for them, often with better value than tariffs that are separated.’
A Three spokesperson told us:
‘We offer a range of plans which include a handset with different data and call allowances to suit customers’ needs. At the end of their contract, customers can upgrade to a new handset with a new plan, switch to a SIM-only plan where they pay only for airtime and not a handset or move to another operator.
‘We already unlock devices for free and we are looking at developing new contracts which will split out the cost of the handset and the airtime for customers.’
We’re calling on all mobile providers to separate out the cost of the handset so you don’t continue paying for it after your contract ends. So it’s great to hear that Three is looking to offer contracts where these costs are separate. You can help us convince Vodafone and EE to do the same by signing our petition.
New proposals from the Government will protect consumers from huge bills run up on stolen mobiles.
Culture Secretary Maria Miller has promised to work with mobile phone networks to protect consumers from unfair charges and price hikes.
The comment came after mobile phone companies met with officials of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.
Following a Government summit with mobile providers, Maria Miller said:
'We want to help hard-working families by ensuring they are not hit with unexpected charges and rising bills.
'We have a highly competitive telecoms market and that competition has helped reduce prices over the last decade.
'There remain clear issues that cause people to be hit with costs and price hikes that are not fair and we are working with industry to deal with them.'