Switching telcos: easier than you think

We were surprised to learn that many Australians think switching mobile telcos is difficult and expensive, when the truth is that the process is dead simple.

After reading the Macquarie University's report on Aussie telco satisfaction, we were surprised to discover that up to a quarter of Australians think switching telcos is either difficult or expensive. The truth is that switching telcos is dead simple.

(Credit: CBSi)

Porting a number

With a decade of mobile phone use behind us, our mobile phone numbers are one of the most important personal identifiers in our lives, so maintaining your number while switching telcos is a top priority for most people. Luckily, this process is free, simple and usually quite fast.

One of Australia's newer telcos, Amaysim, has had a lot of experience in porting numbers to its service, so we got CEO Rolf Hansen to describe the process.

"All you need to have with you is your mobile number, the name of your old mobile provider, your account type (pre- or post-paid) and your account number. We'll handle the porting process from there. It can take from three hours to three days, but we try to do it as fast as we can."

Once you've been notified that the porting process has been completed, you will need to restart your phone (or put your phone in and out of Airplane mode) for these changes to take effect.

This process is common to all Aussie telcos, not just Amaysim. If you're unhappy with your current telco, now is a great time to start shopping around for someone new.

Cut the cord, but don't break your contract

The only thing you have to consider is whether you are still contractually obliged to your current telco. If you're in the middle of a two-year plan, we suggest you wait it out — breaking a phone contract is expensive, with most telcos requiring you to pay a cancellation fee plus any outstanding amounts owing on a handset. For example, Optus charges a flat cancellation fee in the first two months of creating a contract, and then offers a sliding scale reducing this amount over the course of a two-year plan. This flat fee will differ based on the plan you choose. Vodafone, on the other hand, requires you to pay out the minimum balance of the contract, calculated by your monthly plan fee multiplied by the number of months left on the contract. So be sure to understand what cancellation fees apply for the contract that you have signed.

The choice of whether to pay out an old contract is up to you, but do the maths and make sure it will be worth your while. The Macquarie Uni report found that, on average, Aussies saved AU$26 per month after switching to a cheaper telco, but if your cancellation fee is several hundred dollars, these savings will be meaningless.

If you are out of contract or are a prepaid customer, switching telcos shouldn't be an expensive undertaking. In fact, you needn't speak to your current provider at all. Simply sign up with your chosen telco, have them port your number over to your new service and your old telco will cancel your old service. Once you pay your final bill (if you've been on a plan) you shouldn't hear from your old telco again.