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TalkTalk and Three want to make it easier to switch mobe networks

... to them, natch. Why else make the effort?

TalkTalk and Three want to make it easier for mobile customers to switch networks – but they're going about it in a very odd way.

TalkTalk boss Dido Harding and Dave Dyson of Three, along with Chris Pateman, chief executive of the Federation of Communications Services and Sarah Willingham, founder of, have not just written to Ofcom head honcho Ed Richards: they’ve made it an open letter.

The current system is that when you want to leave a network, you call them and ask for a “Portability Access Code” or PAC code, because people don’t understand tautology.

The network then gives you a code. Not straight away, of course: you first have to go through a pantomime of salespeople who will offer you a deal conditional on your staying with the network. How good the deal is depends on what your monthly spend is, where you are in the quarter compared to the department’s targets and the strategy the company has dictated for retentions.

This is great if you don’t actually want to leave the network but just want to beat it down on price. It’s a pain in the arse if all you want is to leave.

Three and TalkTalk want to cut out this step. One suspects this is not for backside discomfort relief purposes but because they feel too many customers who might move to TalkTalk or Three get lured into staying with other networks. They also want the company that gains the fleeing subscriber to do the negotiations needed to sort out the customer’s moving and taking their number with them.

The letter refers to Ofcom's “Renewed focus on switching and the move towards a consistent Gaining Provider Led process” (PDF), arguing that it that puts the interests of consumers first.

There is some logic in what the customer churn alliance is saying. The group claims that of the nine million UK mobile customers who enter the switching process, as many as 1.2 million end up being double-billed or losing service, while nearly three-quarters want it made easier and the majority don’t understand what to do. Only 38 per cent of over-55s understand the process at all.

They argue that if switching were easier, the best deals wouldn’t be hidden until customers threatened to leave – and that market forces would work better for consumers if everything was out in the open. ®

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