A new gremlin appears to have snuck in to complicate the contract switching process. In recent months, we’ve begun receiving several support tickets from people having issues switching to a new plan with the same provider via Billmonitor.
In short, these customers are being told that they can't complete the switch if they want to keep their number and are most often being issued with a new SIM and number with no route to retain their current number.
In some cases, the consumers contacted the networks directly, only to be told that they could switch to their desired plan and keep their number at an increased cost! This shows that, in spite of Ofcom’s recent measures, the switching process is anything but simple.
While we believe that this is the case for all networks, we have two cases relating to Billmonitor staff members who tried to upgrade their Three contracts. In the first case, the staff member was told it was a technical issue and he would need to go onto Pay-As-You-Go (PAYG) for a month before switching to his new contract to keep his number – during that time, he would be expected to pay for both his old and his new contract.
In the second case, after very persistent complaints, the Billmonitor staff member was offered the same contract at the same price, with no need to go through the cumbersome PAYG crossover. The fact that it could be done at all means the argument that it is a ‘technical issue’ is potentially bogus.
This new development is typical of the networks making it deliberately difficult for customers to get the best deal, it has also highlighted an issue with Ofcom’s 2019 Text-to-Switch initiative, which doesn’t enable a consumer to use their Porting Authorisation Code (PAC) to switch to a different contract with the same provider. It only works if you switch providers altogether, potentially forcing users to accept a loyalty levy if they prefer to stay with the same network!
Of this new issue, Billmonitor MD Klaus Henke says:
“The networks will always try to make switching to lower tariffs difficult as they have no incentive to voluntarily reduce their own profit margins. This is the key reason why there needs to be more consumer and business-friendly regulation from Ofcom, including simpler and more transparent tariff switching processes.”