Monday 1st July was a big day for the UK mobile industry.  From that day, anyone can send a free text to receive a Porting Authorisation Code (PAC) to simply and quickly change their mobile communications service provider. This innovation is neat, simple and effective.  The mobile networks should be terrified.

Consumer power

This puts consumers firmly in the driving seat to get the deal they want.  For too long the mobile industry has relied on inertia to drive profitability.  I know because I have been guilty of exactly this.

I wandered into a mobile phone store recently to upgrade my mobile data device.  I use this to remain connected to work when I cannot get a reliable and (most importantly) secure Wi-Fi service (when I am out of the office).  I’ve had this product for at least five years.  Its reliable and simple to use, so why change?  It transpires there were many reasons to change.  Not least the fact the new offer, from the same mobile network, provided me with eight times the amount of monthly data for half the cost of the previous deal.  Had anyone offered me the new deal at any time since my contract ran out? Nope.  Over four years I have paid this company at least £400 that I didn’t need to.  So much for customer loyalty.

Bank of Mum and Dad

My octogenarian parents both also want new mobile phones and deals.  Across several visits to mobile stores they have been patronised, threatened with losing their numbers and lied to by salespeople who, frankly, deserved to be fired for their attitude to the elderly.  On one occasion, someone recommended them a three-year contract on an iPhone, costing thousands more than was suitable for their needs.  I could not wait to tell them they could now fire their mobile operator by text, without being bullied into staying or signing long and unnecessary contracts.  We’ve now secured them more than enough minutes, texts and data for their needs for less than half the previous cost.  That should help secure my inheritance.

Cleaning up their act

Most of all I hope the OFCOM initiative forces the mobile networks to change.  For years these companies have generally taken their position for granted; seemingly convinced that they could continue to make money forever.

When I ask people why they are with a mobile network they generally respond with two responses:

  • It was the cheapest deal
  • I cannot be bothered to change

Lethargy and loyalty are opposites.  I hope that by making it so much easier for people to now change provider without having to speak to someone in a retention team might finally force the networks to innovate and generate their own services that deliver added value to customers.