back to article UK mobile punters get swift network switcheroo ability

Mobile customers can now change networks in 24 hours – if they can be bothered to negotiate the sped-up but still complicated process. The accelerated process was mandated by Ofcom last year, but the operators have had 10 months to get their systems up to speed. Operators and should now be able to provide a Porting …


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  1. Alex Brett

    Three and cancelling

    It took me 3 attempts to get them to cancel a 30 day rolling contract on a data SIM where I didn't even want a PAC etc - they do just keep going round in circles, and on I think 2 of the calls I just got fed up and hung up - finally got it sorted by submitting a complaint which got someone to call me...

    1. Lee Dowling Silver badge

      Better than me

      Better than me: I tried to cancel a "contract" (which I hadn't signed or agreed to by that point) on a phone they'd sent me (but had never arrived, Royal Mail had no trace of, Three wouldn't re-send, etc.), that I'd then reported to them as stolen (and had the IMEI / SIM blocked BY THEM) and it took weeks. They didn't mind setting up a Direct Debit and pouring money out of my account but weren't so hot on actually giving me the damn phone I was supposed to be signing up for, chasing up with the postal service, sending me another, checking if the damn phone was being used or not, or actually anything at all.

      Apparently the parcel was lost in the post but they wanted ME to chase it up (er... no... not at my neighbours, not at my local post office, your problem - they didn't even have tracking on it because it was sent second-class parcel post). For all I know, someone stole it from my front door or the postman walked off with it, so I just reported it stolen (after 28 days waiting for delivery) and wanted them to send another. The phone (and, presumably, the contract inside the same box that they assumed I had "agreed to" by that point) was worth about tuppence.

      I took what I consider to be vastly drastic action to cancel a £9.99 a month contract on something that I never received - I had to call my bank, explain the situation and after confirming that the transactions weren't for any delivered good or service (I'd had Three block the IMEI / SIM of the unarrived phone by then, so it was unusable even if I *DID* have it) THE BANK cancelled the Direct Debit and refunded ALL the payments I'd made on it.

      Three threw a wobbler and kept repeatedly phoning me and telling me they wouldn't stop calling and threatened me with everything but were unwilling to follow through on their threats of breach-of-contract action (inviting them to court got a strange reaction because I think they assumed I wouldn't follow through with it - I even offered to initiate the action in small claims if they wanted) - strange that, seeing as I had no phone, service, or even SIM to show for holding my side of the contract and paying everything required. They called every 20 mins for about 4 days.

      In the end, I advised every person who called me from them that I was recording time and date of the call because it was gathering evidence for my harassment claims. It didn't stop them but it made the conversations very much briefer each time. A few weeks later I got a letter from them saying how kind they were being by cancelling my contract for me and "refunding" my payments and "rescinding the charges for non-payment". Thankfully haven't heard from them since, and haven't used them either.

      All I wanted was what I bloody ordered, or failing that, a fecking SIM on the contract I applied for - I'd have swallowed the cheapy feature-less phone that was thrown in free if they'd just sent me a replacement SIM on my £9.95 a month contract.

      1. Captain Planet

        Mr T Shirts

        That sounds like a nightmare, the best thing to do in these situations is to get all over Twitter, only post things that are 100% factual that you can prove. if you have the time put a video diary on youtube of your progress, they will HATE this as it will potnetially show up in Google results and some marketing bod will tell the customer service people to just give you the phoen to shut you up

  2. Bastard Operator From Hull

    At least when I moved from O2....

    ...they only asked who I was moving to and why - when I told the call centre lass she said "oh right, we can't compete so here's your code" - all very polite and efficient!

    Outsourcing - the way backwards!

  3. Philip Hands

    Porting Authorisation _Code_ (PAC)

    ... code

  4. Mike007 Bronze badge


    I've never had any problems with any of the networks i've moved away from, they ask why you are leaving and perhaps they can offer a better deal "well it's a 12 month contract, with 12 months line rental worth of cashback and a free phone, if you can beat that i'll definitely be interested" "ok i've put your request through and you should get the code shortly..." (although current contract is 18 months with 18 months line rental back, 12 month contracts are getting harder to find...)

    1. Lunatik

      +1 Me too! First! A/S/L?

      Yup, PACs from Orange & Three in the last couple of years and no problem either time.

      Probably shows you've been paying your incumbent supplier too much if they are that desperate to keep hold of you that they'll try withholding the PAC.

      My RPU must be tiny.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    The guy sounds like a bit of a knob to be honest. Why didn't he just ask them to text him the PAC when it was available, instead of staying on the phone and abusing the woman?

    1. Richard 22
      Thumb Down


      I thought he kept his cool very well and _didn't_ abuse the woman who was clearly not listening, lying and being generally very unhelpful. She wouldn't have texted the code without reading out all her script (which she didn't even start until the end).

    2. Anonymous Coward

      I hope you're just trolling.

      I would have totally lost it and demanded to speak to someone capable of understanding simple requests.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        It sounded to me like she'd already told him that it would take a while for the PAC to come through before he started recording the conversation, and it seemed as if he'd deliberately stayed on the phone to act petulantly and abusively instead of just signing off and waiting a couple of hours for the PAC to arrive in a text message. But I might be wrong.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Hmm.

          What a sheltered life you must have led.

          If you think he was abusive then you seriously need to get out more.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward


            There's no need to get personal.

            I'm just pointing out that we don't know what happened before the recording started. It sounds to me like she put in the request for the PAC, probably explained that it would take a couple of hours for it to come through, and instead of just waiting for the text to come through he decided to get petulant and start abusing the woman because he couldn't get his code immediately. She was just doing her job in trying to retain him as a customer since he apparently decided to stay on the phone. He could have politely stated that he didn't want to stay on the phone, but instead he just kept talking over her and being unnecessarily rude and belligerent in a particularly knob-like way.

            I do think that when you're a customer service employee trying to help a customer, and he obviously just fancies himself as Tim Westwood and is mouthing off at you, then you _are_ experiencing abuse - try looking it up in the dictionary. If you don't think that's abusive then I'm bloody glad I don't live in your world.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Loving it!

    Class phone call... the guy did very well to hold his cool for so long... I'd have lost the plot!

    Personally Ive been with VF for about 12 years, but simply phone and threaten to leave at the end of every contract and negotiate a decent deal.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    ACQ/CDB Call Routing?

    More important than time taken to get PAC codes is using ACQ/CDB to route calls. Ofcom recommended using ACQ/CDB in the same report. Was this ever implemented?

    From Wikipedia

    One of the very few countries to not use ACQ/CDB is the UK where calls to a number once it has been ported are still routed via the Donor network. This is also known as 'Indirect Routing' and is highly inefficient as it is wasteful of transmission and switching capacity. Because of its Donor dependent nature, Indirect Routing also means that if the Donor network develops a fault or goes out of business, the customers who have ported out of that network will lose incoming calls to their numbers. The UK telecoms regulator Ofcom completed its extended review of the UK MNP process on 29 November 2007 and mandated that ACQ/CDB be implemented for mobile to mobile ported calls by no later than 1 September 2009

    1. Alex Brett

      Re: ACQ/CDB Call Routing

      The UK does indeed still use onward/indirect routing, and not ACQ, for both fixed and mobile numbers, thus calls are still routed via the donor network. Ofcom rescinded its mandate that they move to ACQ after Vodafone (supported by some of the other MNOs) appealed to the Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) claiming that Ofcom's cost benefit analysis didn't prove the need for change. CAT agreed with Vodafone, and thus in November 2008 Ofcom set aside its previous statement and removed the obligations...

      They have managed to get mobile porting to happen relatively simply (call up get a PAC from losing provider, give it to gaining provider), and other than issues like this it seems to work OK, but for fixed line it's even worse - the gaining provider has to send a Letter of Authority signed by the customer to the losing provider, who can reject it for one of about 52 different reasons (some seemingly stupid), and then takes about 1-2 weeks to happen!

  8. Stefan 2

    I had a not great experience leaving Three too.

    It was 18 months ago, but I moved off Three onto Vodafone. I was persuaded (by a Three customer services rep) to switch my existing pay-monthly contract to a "Sim Zero", which was a 30-day rolling, £0 per month 'contract', where only my calls would be chargeable. This was to facilitate a smooth transition to a new phone number (which I wanted to do, due to nuisance calls).

    They failed to move the contract properly and I was being billed for services I wasn't using.

    Cue a 30 minute argument with 'retentions department' (a guy in India) where the rep repeatedly refused to cancel my contract, arguing blindly that "you don't want to do that, we can easily so [x, y and z]".

    It all culminated in a hefty complaint and a crediting of my final bill in its entirety, a sum of around £120 as I recall. Needless to say, I will never, ever return to the Three network. A shame, because the actual technical parts of the service were superb.

  9. Unlucky

    Reverse Story

    I've never been a great fan of Three's general attitude. A few months ago, I started getting calls on my O2 mobile from an 0800 number I didn't recognise. Now I have a habit of not answering numbers I don't know, and instead Googled it to find out it was Three. Calls started coming in from this number at all hours of the day, and initially I ignored them thinking they might give up but alas, they didn't. Eventually I caved in and answered with "Hello, Three" to which they claimed not to be Three and started asking questions about my contract. After 5 minutes of me asking who they are, they eventually admitted to being Three, I told them I wasn't interested, and they are not to contact me again.

    Guess what? The calls didn't stop. 3 more times I asked them to stop contacting me and they didn't, so the 4th time, I answered the phone "Good afternoon, Essex Police" and suddenly they apparently had the wrong number!

    Heard nothing until a couple of days ago, when calls from an 029 number started coming in, and low and behold Google informs me it's Three again. Any ideas on how I could wind them up this time?

    P.S When the lady in the recording said you could transfer it to someone else, I'd have asked for her name and asked her to transfer the contract to herself ;)

    1. Vic

      A neat trick...

      > Any ideas on how I could wind them up this time?

      You say "hang on a sec - just need to get my recording running <click>. Right, for the benefit of the recording, it is now $time on $date, and I am speaking to... sorry, I missed your name"

      If they ring you on a VoIP line, it's a pretty simple job to make the recording actually happen, too :-)


  10. Anonymous Coward


    hmm. Nothing I can say good about them - I think their biggest problem is the total lack of proper customer services. Outsourcing to India just pisses off your customers when the person cannot understand you, you cannot understand them and in the end they still fuck up everything.

    I had to call their head office to get them to cancel my contract.

    Now I refuse to have any dealings with businesses who do not have UK based call centres.

    Needless to say, I would not go back with 3. I wonder if any of these companies actually realize the the damage to their businesses that these Indian call centres are doing?

    1. shezzuk1
      Thumb Down

      indian call centres and 3

      I agree wholeheartedly, three are a bunch of sharks and the Indian call centres are a menace!!!

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