Have you thought about shifting your bank account to get a better service? Or ditching that rubbish energy provider with the poor customer service. Or getting a cheaper mobile phone deal? What’s stopping you?
Well for millions and millions of us (myself included) the problem with switching is the hassle.
Through experience or cynicism with the industry, we expect switching to be difficult, or for things to go wrong, or to get the ‘hard sell’ from businesses that suddenly care about us when we’re going. Breaking up is hard to do indeed…
It’s been well known for years now that we Brits aren’t switching to new businesses – and it’s not out of loyalty either.
The good news though, is some of those barriers to switching have been smashed down. So here’s a quick guide to get you thinking about shifting our allegiances and getting a better deal – without any hassle!
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)’ code then jump through tons of complicated hoops to switch networks.
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 (a minute usually).
- 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.
The new rules ban some fees associated with switching but the hefty charges for getting out of your contract early still abound. Of course, if you feel you’ve been misled by the firm or they’ve failed to switch you in time, you can make a complaint.
Despite the best efforts of consumer experts and regulators, millions of us still stick with our banks, despite being unhappy with the service they provide. However, with branches vanishing off the high street and lots of new banks entering the market, now is the time to consider ditching your old bank and trying something new. Remember the golden rule – you don’t get anything for staying loyal!
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. There’s loads of comparison information out there so check to see what services are on offer. 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 7 working days to transfer everything over, including payments, debits, the works.
Just over 99% of switches happen successfully within the timescales – but again, if something goes wrong you can make a formal complaint.
We could be saving a couple of hundred pounds a year just by switching our energy providers too.
A lot of people are telling me that they’re worried about switching to a smaller energy company as a lot of them have gone bust in the last year (Solarplicity is the latest one this week). But fear not. Ofgem, the regulator, has a scheme that will automatically transfer you over to a new provider if the current one goes bust.
As with bank accounts, don’t just go for the cheapest deal. Have a look at what people are saying online about customer service. Some of the best firms we deal with at Resolver are small or medium sized businesses and their service is wonderful. So don’t be afraid to try something new.
- Again, there are loads of energy switching comparison sites out there. Have a look at them to get a feel for the deals that could benefit you. Look for the 'confidence code' – Ofgem's code of practice for comparison services created to help make the switching process easier and more reliable.
- 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 (now’s the best time to switch as the summer means we use less energy).
- Get in touch with the new company and start the process. They should deal with any issues overcharging while the switch is in progress so if there’s any confusion speak to them first about final bills.
- Annoyingly, you’ll pay less by paying by direct debit, which isn't really fair, but that’s the case with most service providers.
- Ofgem says the switch-over process can take up to 21 days. In most cases, it’s around 17 days.
- See our guide on how to switch your energy supplier, here.
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. Set aside a little time to switch to a better deal – you could save a fortune!
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