Broadband switching to get easier
Switching broadband provider is to become easier from Saturday 20 June when it will no longer be necessary to get a MAC code from your existing supplier in order to leave.
That process was deemed "confusing" and "time consuming" for the customer and could deter them from moving to a better deal, said communications regulator Ofcom.
The move should mean customers switching between the likes of BT, EE, Sky and TalkTalk will have a "simpler and smoother" experience, it added.
However, critics have complained that not every provider will be covered by the new scheme, which could have been further simplified.
Under the new system, the switching process will be handled by the new supplier on the customer's behalf - just like the current account switching service. This means customers won't need to inform their old supplier they're jumping ship.
As the switch gets underway, the customer will receive confirmation from their old supplier of the services affected and unaffected by the move and any early termination charges that might be payable.
Citizens Advice has previously reported instances of some people facing such charges of up to £625 to exit their existing deals.
During the switch, the customer will also hear from the new provider giving them details about the process, which must include "a reasonable estimate of the date it will happen".
If the consumer changes their mind, they can cancel the switch within 14 days by notifying the new provider.
However, the new switching process will only be available to customers whose providers are on the Openreach network, such as EE, TalkTalk, Sky and BT - but excluding Virgin Media, which is a cable network.
Customers switching to or from Virgin Media will need to contact their existing provider in the first instance - as too will customers switching bundle deals which contain a TV service.
Pay TV customers and mobile customers will not benefit from the new process but the regulator said it is now looking at ways to make it easier for mobile phone customers to change provider.
Ofcom will also make providers keep records of every consumer's consent to switch to protect against 'slamming', which is where a customer's supplier is changed without either their knowledge or consent.
Sharon White, Ofcom chief executive, said: "The new process puts the responsibility for the switching process in the hands of the provider the customer is joining.
"This will make a real difference for consumers, and will encourage more people to take advantage of very strong competition in the landline and broadband markets."
Stands for either Migration Authorisation Code or Migration Access Code and is a 17-19 digit alphanumeric code used when switching broadband providers and allows broadband customers to switch between providers with minimal, if any, disruption to broadband service. A MAC code is like a serial number used to identify your broadband connection within the local exchange. If you’re switching provider and it has this code, it can simply move your connection over to its service. Customers apply to their current provider that will issue the unique MAC code, which is then given to the new provider, but it’s very likely the new provider will do this on the customer’s behalf.
An account opened with a clearing bank (few building societies offer current accounts) that provides the ability to draw cash (usually via a debit card) or cheques from the account. Some pay fairly minimal rates of interest if the account is in credit. Most current accounts insist your monthly income (salary or pension) is paid directly in each month and they offer a number of optional services – such as overdrafts and charge cards – which are negotiable but will incur fees.