Networks deliberately obstructing customers’ requests for PAC codes say senior sources
Mobile dealers have accused operators of a “dirty tricks” campaign by putting obstacles in the way of customers’ PAC code requests.
Vodafone has been labelled as the worst offender.
Senior channel sources say that operators are forcing dealers to call the operator posing as the customer to obtain the PAC code and transfer providers.
Customers have complained of being put on hold for up to an hour as the operator tries to connect them to the retentions teams. Customers also complain that alleged technical problems prevent their PAC code from being generated, delaying the process further.
The revelation came as Mobile News investigated number portability issues experienced by thousands of Vodafone customers since the start of the year.
Dealers claim operators are making it increasingly difficult for customers who want to change to another network to obtain their PAC codes.
They claim these tactics are designed to “buy time”, with customers often then called back by operator sales teams and offered new and improved deals, often resulting in the dealer losing out on the initial enquiry.
In response, dealers are instead posing as the customer. This is done with the customer’s permission but still contravenes data protection laws and can be classed as fraudulent by the ICO (Information Commissioner’s Office).
Penalties can result in a maximum fine of £500,000 to the operator, and unlimited fines to the dealer.
A senior director of one of the channel’s leading multi-network dealers told Mobile News: “Calling the operators and posing as customers to get PAC codes is a frequent thing. If the process was left to the customers most of them would give up due to the laborious process.”
Another dealer added: “Operators will try every dirty trick in the book to retain their customers.
“The best thing for us is to limit or eliminate any contact between them and our customers.
“Customers don’t want to spend hours waiting for someone at a network to answer the phone. They are usually more than happy to let us make the call for them.
“As long as they give us their permission there are rarely any legal issues.”
Three and EE declined to comment on dealers’ allegations.
Vodafone and O2 claimed to have no knowledge of dealers impersonating their subscribers.
Vodafone says it is close to resolving ongoing issues with number porting which have affected thousands of customers in recent months.
The problems has seen customers waiting months in some case for their numbers to be transferred from other providers.
The delays are in breach of Ofcom guidelines that says the process should be completed within 24 hours. The regulator told Mobile News it was “concerned” about the reports and says it will be speaking to the operator.
The operator blamed “cross network” issues earlier in the year – something denied by EE, Three and O2 – and a new billing system for the delays.
Vodafone says that a “small percentage” have been affected and that the problem was now “essentially clear” following the formation of a dedicated team to deal with the issue.
However, as Mobile News went to press message boards were awash with customers criticising Vodafone over the delays.
One had first reported the issue in mid-April.
A spokesperson for Vodafone said: “Once we identified there was increasing customer feedback on this issue we invested in a specialist team who have focused on reducing the backlog of customers affected and improving the overall team has already achieved significant improvements on both aspects.”