James Walker: Don’t be taken for a mug, switch and start saving
Fabulously, you can now change your mobile phone supplier with a text message. New Ofcom rules mean that if your minimum contract has expired, you no longer need to phone up and ask for a mysterious “PAC” (porting authorisation code) then jump through tons of complicated hoops to switch providers. You just need to send a text. Here’s how it works.
If you want to switch to another company and keep your phone number text PAC to 65075. Your current service provider must respond asap.
You’ll then get the PAC code you need to move to another provider – valid for 30 days. If any exit/early termination fees apply they have to tell you about this too.
If you’re not bothered about keeping your old number you can text STAC to 75075 to request a code that allows you to do the same thing.
When you give the code to the new mobile phone firm, they have to sort the switch out within one day – and voila!
Not sure if you’re out of contract? Text INFO to 85075 to find out.
Bank account switching is also easier than you’d think. The old process could take up to a month and often resulted in direct debits not being paid or other cock-ups. So the rules were tightened massively a few years back. Here’s how it works.
Find a bank you like the look of. Look for interest rates, customer service reviews (there’s just been a big survey on the best and worst banks this week) and overdraft charges before deciding.
Tell your new bank you want to switch accounts, fill in a simple form and provide ID.
The banks then have a maximum of seven working days to transfer everything over, including payments, debits, the works. Just over 99 per cent of switches happen successfully within the timescales – but again, if something goes wrong you can make a formal complaint.
There are loads of energy switching comparison sites out there. Look for the “confidence code” – Ofgem’s code of practice for comparison services.
You need the name of your current supplier, the tariff you’re on (it’s on your bill) and your postcode.
I’d recommend giving an up-to-date meter reading to your current service provider too, just so you can find out if your bill is in credit or debit.
Get in touch with the new company and start the process. They should deal with any issues over charging while the switch is in progress.
Annoyingly, you’ll pay less by paying by direct debit, which isn’t really fair, but that’s the case with most service providers.
The price of loyalty
There are loads of other sectors and services where switching to a better service provider is much easier – and quicker than it used to be. So don’t stay loyal to a brand just because it seems less hassle – you could save a fortune.