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JAMES WALKER [Newcastle Journal (England)]
[April 19, 2014]

JAMES WALKER [Newcastle Journal (England)]

(Newcastle Journal (England) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Complaints champion fights for your rights THIS week I received an email from Sandra who told me that she wanted to change her home phone provider, but was having problems with BT and the transfer of her existing home phone number. Sandra wanted help and advice about how to get BT to undertake such a simple task.

We are all changing our home phone, internet and mobile providers with ever-increasing frequency. Believe it or not is a lot simpler now than it has ever been and yet, over 70% of consumers still don't swap services given the hassles involved. Sandra's case gives a clear example of why we struggle.

When you are switching providers both the provider you are leaving and the company you are joining need to liaise to ensure a smooth transition. Both should write to you to confirm the date when the transfer will take place.

The process is the responsibility of your new service provider to manage but requires the co-operation of your previous phone provider. (Remember if you are moving your home phone you can only keep the same number if you are remaining on the same telephone exchange).

In your case "BT Openreach' is responsible for the porting of your phone number. It is a separate entity from the one, which provides home phone services. However both entities are part of the same group. Interestingly if anything goes wrong with Openreach's work, your new provider is not permitted to blame Openreach for the issue.

Switching mobile or broadband is an easier process. You will be given a PAC (porting authorisation code). You then provide the PAC number to your new provider and it acts as a passport, thereby simplifying the switching process.

Be warned that no firm wants to lose your custom. Once when trying to cancel my NTL (now Virgin Media) service, I was on the phone for 45 minutes before I could make my switching request. Other tactics can include cancellation fees or offering you a better package. When tempted with a better deal, I always wonder why the package was not offered to me in the first place.

Switching always makes sense if we can also save money.

However, Sandra was losing out on any potential savings, as BT was not allowing her to leave their service with her phone number.

Sandra's rights SANDRA has the right to complain about the service issue, as BT was not fulfilling her request. The firm you are leaving must switch your number within one working day once you have received all key switching information (such as cancellation charges), any physical installations have been completed and your old provider has given the new company the number.

If the switch still has not taken place, you should contact both the new provider (as it is in their interest to ensure that the move takes place) as well as the Head of Customer Services of the old company. If the situation is still unresolved after eight weeks, you can escalate your case to the Ombudsman.

In Sandra's case she turned to us at to raise her issue with BT. She has been trying to switch provider for six months and was continuously given different reasons for the delay. After we raised her issue, BT's Head of Customer Services contacted Sandra to apologise for the issues she experienced.

Her phone line was transferred over within a week. After all the delays this is a great example of BT doing the right thing.

What if it happens to you? LOTS of us consider switching our telecoms provider. Moving our home phone number is often the hardest to switch, but don't let that put you off. If you are not getting the service you deserve or can save money elsewhere, then make sure you switch to your preferred provider.

Don't switch when it is raining! It may sound silly but if there is bad weather then wait before you switch as all the engineers will be busy fixing faults and won't be concentrating on your switch.

When you start the switching process make sure you keep a record of all calls and communications, who you spoke to and any deadlines promised.

If you are not getting the resolution you require, then escalate your case with both providers. Remember you are more than a number! For more advice on this and any other consumer problems visit consumer champ James Walker's website or download the Resolver app.

(c) 2014 ProQuest Information and Learning Company; All Rights Reserved.

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