At long last, after a number of customers have experienced problems switching between broadband suppliers, February 14th sees a new Ofcom ruling come into effect that should make it easier and far less painful to change providers.
From February 14th, broadband providers will be obliged to provide the MAC (Migration Authorisation Code) for free to any customer that requests them. These codes are the key to switching service with minimal disruption, but in the past, some providers have withheld them, or charged a fee, making the switch difficult or resulting in a break in service.
Some reports are suggesting that this will help protect customers from being locked in to outdated contracts, though I’m not sure if that’s strictly the case. Many providers still require a minimum 12-month (or even 18-month) contract, and any switch would probably have to be made at renewal time.
“In the energy market, if a customer feels they’re paying too much or receiving poor service, they can leave their provider at any time,” explains Karen Darby, chief executive of SimplySwitch.com.
“It would be healthy for the telecoms market if a similar practice was put in place, both in terms of maintaining competitive pricing and improving customer service.”
This is a good move, but it may also be worth a customer checking out what they can get an existing broadband supplier to upgrade them to. Loyalty isn’t always rewarded, but if a provider has upgraded their service and you’re stuck on a lower-speed, sub-standard contract, ask if they’ll upgrade it. With the competitive nature of the UK broadband market, they should want to keep hold of you.