What is 'text to switch' and how does it work?

Text message

From July 1st, mobile phone users will be able to switch their provider via text message. According to Ofcom, this will make the ordeal of switching easier and faster. Question is: how will ‘text to switch’ work?

Let’s be honest, trying to switch your mobile provider is about as enjoyable as a barbecue in a snowstorm. And, if you can stomach the dodgy hold music long enough to speak to an operator, they will attempt to sell you extra services you’ll neither want, nor need.

Thankfully, the switching process is about to get a lot faster and easier. From 1st July 2019, you’ll be able to switch network simply by sending a text message.

That means no more waiting in a long queue to speak to the network you’re leaving. No more hard sell from sales reps trying to make you stay. And a smoother and faster process for transferring your existing phone number to your new network.

Here are all the details…

How does it work?

As the name suggests, ‘text to switch’ means you’ll be able to send a text message to your provider when you want to leave them. It couldn’t be simpler and, brilliantly, it won’t cost you a penny.

How the text-to-switch process works differs very slightly, depending on whether you want to transfer your number to your new network, or you’re happy to start afresh with a new number.

Here’s how text-to-switch works if you’re transferring your phone number:

  1. Text the network you’re leaving on a free number that’s designated for customers transferring their phone number.
  2. The network you’re leaving texts you immediately with the PAC code that you’ll need to transfer your phone number. The text will also outline any outstanding charges you may owe.
  3. When you’re ready to switch, contact the network you’d like to join and give them the PAC code.
  4. Your service will be switched on the same day. So there’s no period in which you’re paying for a service from your old network and the one you’re joining.

Here’s how text-to-switch works if you’d like to start afresh with a new number on your new network:

  1. Text the network you’re leaving on the free number designated for customers who want to leave without transferring their number.
  2. The network you’re leaving will immediately send you what’s called a standard cancellation code.
  3. Contact the network you’re joining and give the cancellation code.
  4. Your new network will contact the network you’re leaving and co-ordinate an end date for our old service and a start date for your new one. So you won’t be paying for both at the same time.

The codes are valid for 30 days, so you’re under no obligation to switch right away.

Bear in mind, though, there is nothing in the Ofcom report that prevents providers from calling you to convince you to stay.

Why is it being introduced?

According to the telecoms regulator Ofcom, most Brits experience major difficulties trying to contact their providers and cite ‘hard-sell’ techniques from sales teams as a bugbear that prevents them from switching to a better deal. Text-to-switch is being introduced to put a stop to this, while making the switching process faster, easier and smoother.

It’s a very welcome change. Not least because it means customers can even request a code from their provider while they’re on the lookout for a better deal. Plus, the great thing is, you don’t have to tell your network you’re switching. So, they can’t try to shower you with ostensibly attractive deals and offers to persuade you to stay.

Moreover, the new rules will stop providers from charging notice periods after the switch date. That means you won’t have to pay for your new and old services at the same time. Ofcom estimates this alone will save customers a whopping £10 million a year.

When is it being brought in?

Ofcom announced text to switch way back in 2017, and it’ll be introduced on 1st July.

Will it cost me anything?

Nope, your provider won’t charge you a penny extra for it. How’s that for an incentive to switch?