Helping the regulator keep us all honest.

Which?, Three, TalkTalk and Consumer Futures want the government to help strong consumer regulation.

Ofcom, the regulator that oversees UK communications companies, often finds its plans to make things simpler and easier for consumers frustrated by big companies’ lawyers challenging its decisions. We want our watchdog to have the ability to make strong decisions in favour of consumers and fair competition, without having its plans derailed by companies that don’t want change.

So we are asking the government to update the rules to make it harder for reforms to be blocked on technical details, so that the focus is on the right outcome for consumers.

Why is this important? Today it is too easy to derail change: It’s why Three, Vodafone and O2 customers in Ireland can switch mobile providers in their lunch hour, keeping their phone number without having to get into a tussle with their old operator – and customers of the same networks in the UK can’t. Back in 2007 Ofcom decided UK consumers should have the same rights to move to a new operator without having to ask permission from the old. But Vodafone, backed by O2, Orange and T-Mobile, made a legal challenge to Ofcom’s decision and nearly seven years later you still have to go back to your old operator to switch your number to your new one.

We want Ofcom to have the powers necessary to support consumers and competition so does Which?, Consumer Futures and TalkTalk.

Together we have asked the Ministers in charge to make that change a reality, so consumers can get the kind of experience they deserve.

You can view a copy of the letter here


46 Responses to Helping the regulator keep us all honest.
  1. Moderator: Claire

    @Alan – Hi, sorry to hear of your experience when asking for a PAC code. Were you given your PAC after calling? We usually send this by text message.

  2. alan

    I tried to get my PAC code today. Hopeless! No, I do not want to cancel my contract (yet) but I do want my code.

    Can’t Three see that by making life difficult for customers they are alienating them, making it more likely that they will switch providers – not less?

  3. Moderator: Claire

    @Terry – Hi, did you get your PAC code yesterday? We send you a text with your PAC within 2 hours. Thanks.

  4. terry

    I’m too trying to get my PAC code from Three. The gentleman from overseas kept me holding for 15 minutes and as yet, they/he will not let me have my PAC code.
    Can any one help me with this as Three are being a BIG pain

  5. Moderator: Danielle

    @Cathy Buchan – Hey Cathy, sorry to hear it took you a while to get your PAC Code. We can understand how frustrating this would be for you. Had you already called in to provide us with 30 days notice before you asked for your PAC Code? We’d like to look into this for you to see what’s happened, so we can do this – can you join us on web chat here. Thanks, >Danielle

  6. Cathy Buchan

    I finally managed to cancel my account with 3 a couple of weeks ago, it took me many years. I called them today to get my Pac Code and I was put on hold for ages listening to head banging music. She eventually came back and agreed to give me my Pac Code but she said I would have to start my 30 day cancelation all over again. I said NO, you must give me my Pac code NOW over the phone or within 2 hours by text. She said yes that’s right, I will give you your Pac Code now but your cancelation will have to start over. I’m going to call Consumer Advice tomorrow to find out if this is even legal.

  7. Moderator: Stewart

    @Anon – Hi there. I’m sorry you had a difficult experience when you were trying to cancel your contract recently. Please be assured we take all feedback on board in regards to our processes, including cancellations. We’re obviously disappointed that you decided to leave, but we do hope you’re happy with your new service, even if it’s not with Three. >Stewart

  8. Anon

    It’s still very long-winded to get a PAC code from Three. After I selected the “leaving us” option on the call, someone attempted to persuade me to stay for 10 minutes, despite me repeatedly telling him I was not interested, already had another SIM, just wanted the PAC code and was calling from abroad and therefore paying for the call. When I told him I’d be sending Three a bill for the call, he finally gave up and said he would transfer me to the cancellations department. I expressed surprise that I was not already talking to the cancellations department since that was the option I had selected, and he told me that when you select that option they put you through the contract renewals department first. The conversation was typical of my experience with Three, they’re only interested in selling, not in customer service.

  9. Moderator: Claire

    @Katherine – Hi, I’m sorry you are on hold our lines are very busy during this time. Have you received your PAC code? If not you can also try our online chat here. Thanks.

  10. Katherine


    This blog post and your statement on your website that “easy switching between mobile operators is vital if consumers are to get the best deal” are both hugely hypocritical. I have been on hold for 30 minutes and passed around four different advisors trying to get my PAC code.

    I have already set up with another provider and I want to keep my number. I’m missing important calls.

    I wish I’d never joined Three, it’s ridiculous.

  11. Moderator: Richard

    I’m sorry to hear you’ve had this experience, @Jeff. A PAC code should last 30 days and the text you receive with it should give you an exact expiry date so I’m unsure what’s happened here. I’d like to investigate this further for you, can you fill in our support tab here? I’m also sorry that it took that long for you on the phone to get the code. You can now cancel via the website using our online web-chat service. >Rich

  12. Jeff Stevenson

    What a load of tosh from Three and TalkTalk. I am moving 1 of my 4 numbers to TalkTalk as they have offered me a FREE monthly plan. It took several phone calls and the usual nonsense before three would accept my cancellation was happening. I got a PAC code and tried to use it with TalkTalk just prior to my Three Contact Finish Date, despite having two days left on the PAC I needed to get another one. (So a PAC lasts 28 days not 30). I then had to go through the rigmarole of talking to the cancellations dept. again for another PAC code. It took over half an hour on the phone and I got the PAC code some 4 hours later. Shocking service from Three and totally against what they are pointing out above. You should be able to cancel on the website and you should get the PAC code through the website also.

  13. Moderator: Chris

    @Hernan Lobert – Hey Hernan. I’m sorry to hear that you found it difficult to get your PAC over the phone “/ In order for me to look into this for you, can you fill out the online form over here? – This will give me visibility of your account. Cheers.

  14. Hernan Lobert

    It is quite funny to ear about Three supporting this cause while this company doesn’t help it own clients to leave. For instance since yesterday I’m trying to get my PAC code either via chat or the phone (333), in the later waiting for more than 20 minutes, with not success so far.

    Therefore the question is: What is Three doing to improve the market beside complaining to Ofcom? And how are you going to help me to get my PAC code ASAP?

    An already disappointed customer and now even more after reading this blog.

  15. Moderator: Claire

    @Peter Bolina – Hi, can you fill in this form and we’ll look into your account for you? Thanks.

  16. peter bolina

    hi im having a lot of trouble with my 3 contract for the 1st 3months i could not use the internet they charged me for a new sim but i found the anser to my problem b4 the sim came online after 3 advised me to buy another phone three new phones later i gave up on 3 and looked online for an anser i found it and then everything was fine but yesterday i got charged twice i foned up got the money refunded then my phone got blocked even tho i have two phones with the same pin got locked out of my 3 account aswell after being on the phone to 3 for what seemed like forever i was told to get yet another sim but i finaly got the phone unblocked and i just noticed i had no service ive tried turning it of ive took out the sim put it back in and nothing wtf can any 1 tell me whats going on as this is very the only polite word to use is annoying and 3 customer support is now closed does any1 know what to do as im realy dissapointed in the 3 service and cant find an anser online its like 3 has deactivated my sim or the network is down ive never missed a payment i even pay b4 its due sometimes please any info will be much appreciated

  17. Moderator: Nicki

    @Thomas Oneill – Hi there, sorry you’ve had issues with your coverage. I’ve had a look and can’t see any current faults or anything that could be affecting your coverage. Have you seen any improvement since yesterday?

  18. Thomas Oneill

    Dear three. My phone Nokia 520 wp8 pay.go on 3.all data calls internet went down completely from 13.6.14 until 18.6.14. After trying trying for days to contact 3 network came on again only.18.6 Called 3 passed about here there every were finally got a very nice lady who called me back on daughters phone who got me up and running again. My internet now runs very slow after black update or not atall especially in after noon.i never found out what the problem is and when it will be fixed my area is wishaw [removed by Mod]

  19. Steff E

    @ Jing – Hey Jing, hope you’re having a good time in China! Did you fill out this unlock form? You’ll need to put your email address in there as we’ll email you the unlock code. If you can’t remember your Three mobile number don’t worry, just pop in the current mobile number you’re using even if it’s international. However if you’re having issues with the unlock code and want to speak to customer services you can call this number: +44 7782 333 333, that will take you straight to our customer services team. Let me know how you get on Jing! Thanks 🙂

  20. Jing

    Dear Steff

    Thank you for your email. I have got the link. But the big issue is I am in China now. And I have already finished my two years contract with 3. I don’t have 3 SIM card any more. But I really want to unlock my iPhone 4. I only know my IMEI:(Removed by Mod). Is there anyway I could unlock it? Thank you again. Look forward to hearing from you.

    Best regards


  21. Moderator: John

    @Lojra – Hi Lojra. With regards to Apple products all of the unlocking processes are the same; the request is mad, and then the phone will be unlocked remotely by Apple themselves =) Thanks

  22. Lojra Falas

    Hi there, I am also a Three costumer and i wanted to know if there is any change between iPhone 4 and iPhone 4s unlocking. I opened the link above but still i cannot fix it… please help me!

  23. Moderator: John

    @Matt – As requested we’ve removed your postcode from your previous post; apologies for the oversight.

    With regards to mast issues, unfortunately some issues take longer to resolve than others, so we don’t have a set date for a fix. Obviously signal issues are not ideal, but our engineers are striving for a quick resolution. Apologies for any inconvenience.


  24. Matt


    Three support told me my local mast was down last week and to simply wait for a fix. Signal improves outside my postcode area but currently have no service at home. Nor does my partner. Is there any update available on when a fix will be implemented ?

    Please could also remove my postcode from my original post.


  25. Moderator: John

    @Matt – So sorry to hear that you’ve been having issues recently Matt, has there been any improvement this morning at all? Are you aware of any other Three users in the same area with similar problems?
    Do you find that when you move away from that particular postcode, the service improves?

  26. Matt


    Is there any update as to when the faulty mast in [removed by Mod] area will be fixed ? 3 days now and no signal whatsoever indoors.


  27. Steff E

    @ Josh – Hi Josh, sorry still no updates I’m afraid. We’re not given time scales of when work is due to finish with masts due to the varying nature of faults. Are you able to call, text or use data at all? Sorry for the inconvenience Josh, hopefully it won’t take much longer to fix this.

  28. Steff E

    @Jing – Hi Jing, I’ve sent you an email with the link to unlock your handset. If you need anything else please let us know 🙂

  29. Jing

    Dear Ahmed

    Thank you for your reply. I cannot open the link that you sent to me. My email:( Removed by Mod) . Could you please send the link by email to me again? Thank you do much

    Best regards


  30. josh

    Hi there, how long until the mast is back up in cv364es? Been at least a week now!!!!

  31. Moderator: Chris

    @Stew – Hey Stew, you’re right enough in saying that Wakefield will be updated after the initial 2014 rollout. We’re aiming to have 98% of the population covered under 4G by the end of 2015 so although you might have a bit longer to wait than some areas, you’ll still be able to use 4G in existing areas from the end of this month 🙂

  32. Moderator: Ahmed

    @Leigh Taylor Van U – Hi Leigh, really disappointed to hear that your issue has been so prolonged and not been resolved. When you spoke to our team on 333 what were you told with regards to this? Was any indication given of when this issue would be resolved or why it’s been ongoing? Have you got a Twitter account? If you tweet us through to that we’ll be able to get your account details and look into this issue for you and get it investigated.

  33. Moderator: Ahmed

    @Greg – Really disappointed to hear that, Greg and can only apologise for that experience. To cancel, I’m afriad the only way would be to call our team on 333 as they’re best placed to get this done for you. With regards to the reason your wife was cancelling, did she ever get Home Signal as an option or was the area just not covered with coverage? Did she manage to cancel okay in the end?

  34. Moderator: Ahmed

    @Jing – Hi, if you wish to unlock your device you would need to pop along to this link and follow the steps there to get it done. Let me know how you get on or if you have any issues. Thanks

  35. stew

    great stuff Three
    I have a question, when will 4g hit WF2 0PY area, i think its next year?
    Also, im thinking of buying a Barnes and Noble Nook HD+, if i get one will i be able to buy a micro sim from 3 and use it on your network?

  36. Greg

    From a corporate level, I admire 3 for taking this stand but amongst people I know, 3’s cancellation department are legendary for their ruthlessness in dealing with people wishing to leave the network. It’s a standing joke. For those who doubt this, my wife rang with a heavy heart to leave Three after a few years because she gets no signal at work. She had been a happy customer but just needed coverage where Three had none. She was passed around four different agents and kept on the phone for 33 minutes just to get a PAC code. I must have heard her say “I just want my PAC code” on twenty separate occasions. In light of this, it seems a little hypocritical to paint yourselves as the network who wants to make it easy to change.

  37. Jing

    Dear Sir/Madam

    I am a Three customer and want to unlock my iPhone 4 ASAP as I am abroad. My IMEI: 01 264400 746416 8. Is there anyone could help me out? Thank you so much.

    Best regards


  38. Leigh Taylor Van U

    Please help me I feel completely powerless and have still got no solution. I read your article above and whilst i think it is absolutely admirable in my case migrating a simple number has proven to be an absolute nightmare!! I just cannot bear to have to speak to customer services online again for the umpteenth time and I am not exaggerating and repeat my DOB and Postal code.
    I have not had a number working now for 11 days and I am losing money and business everyday not to mention not being contactable by family and friends. It is my ONLY contact number that people know. I work online and constant have to submit my tel number but how can i when it is not working! It is embarrassing and unprofessional from my side and it is really due to your poor service. I never dreamt of needing to have an alternate number or phone! for that matter as everything was working perfectly fine until i switched to contract. NO one has been keeping track properly of my problem on your system, I have had 4 sim swops (excl my original pay as you go) and my number is still not active on the network. I have never experienced this kind of poor service from a company in a first world country. I am very disappointed, frustrated and powerless without having contact and it is a great inconvenience. In this modern age one cannot be without communication. I cannot run my business, so this is a financial loss. Please respond and please do something about it. I have tried every way to get your attention and it falls on deaf ears and it is an is extremely poor reflection of your service and professionalism. My whole family uses three and it is annoying to have to switch when we did so in order to have good communication good service and good rates. I feel really upset and have actually resorted to tears because I cannot get someone to find a solution that does not say”between 24-48 hours madam and we do understand” because to be honest if you did, then you could put yourself in my position and imagine your ears and mouth completely deaf and mute. Imagine you cannot contact your family or be contacted by family, business or friends. Please. I cannot bear this anymore. If i need to change service providers now after 11 days wasted I have to change all my info and have more delays, please find a solution asap.

  39. Moderator: Richard

    Hi @Lee b, Unfortunately we still don’t have any exact dates on this as it’s still in testing. Shouldn’t be too much longer now though.

  40. Lee b

    Hi does anyone have an idea when the HTC one on three will get the kit Kat update? Thanks.

  41. Moderator: Allan

    @Dave – Hi Dave, We’ll continue sending out 4G software updates up until the end of March 2014, so you should have the opportunity to receive this on your G2 once again. There’s no way to force this through for you at present though.

  42. Chris Campbell

    Tam, people will always make the most noise when complaining….that’s why I try and make a point of praising when things go right.

    Like this morning, when I woke up looked at my HTC One and noticed a lovely little 4G logo…..71.6 Mbps down, 21.74 Mbps up….. Thank you Three!

  43. Dave


    I’ve got 4g enabled on my iphone 5, I had the carrier update ages ago and 4g went live today

    I also have an lg g2 direct from 3, and received a 4g update, I had to reset the phone back to factory settings, and have lost the 4g update to enable it in the menu

    How do I get the 4g software update back, i’m in Manchester and my other line has 4g (and rather good it is too)


  44. Iain Patterson

    I totally agree Matthew, the consumer should have the power of manoeuvrability without constraints. Thank you for fighting our corner.

  45. Tam

    I hear what Three are saying. But after reading complaint after complaint in this blog about signal and service issues. Making it easier to change networks could result in a mass exodus from Three. The term ‘shooting ones self in the foot’ springs to mind with this one.

  46. Matthew Sutton

    Well done Three, not that I have considered leaving your network, but the big mobile operators hold too much power, and Ofcom, too little. Time for the consumer to get more support!

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