The Phone Co-op is the UK’s only co-operative telecoms provider. 100% member-owned, they have a democratic internal structure and no external shareholders. You can just become a customer, or you can become a member too, and have a say in the way the co-op is run.
What to do
First, check the situation with your current provider. Check your contract. If you’re out of contract, you’re set to switch. If you’re still in contract, check how long you have left, and what the penalty is for breaking the contract. It may be best to wait until you’re out of contract. If you’re not sure, call them and ask.
Check what package you’ve got – how many free minutes are included, plus texts and data etc. Look at your previous bills – see what you’ve been paying each month on average.
Contact your current provider:
- Tell them that you want to leave. They’ll almost definitely ask you if you’ve found a better deal, and if so, they’ll match it (they won’t explain why they charged you above the odds in the first place, or why they’re happy to drop your price because you’re thinking of leaving, but not anyone else’s). Tell them you’re switching to a co-op, because you like co-ops (be prepared for incomprehension).
- Ask them for your PAC code – you’ll need this to be able to keep your number. Make a note of it, plus they’ll probably email it to you.
- They’ll also email you a link to a site that allows you to unlock your phone. If you got your phone as part of your contract, it will be locked in to your provider – a SIM card from another provider won’t work in it. If, however, you didn’t get your phone from your supplier, it may not need to be unlocked. You can test this by putting someone else’s SIM card in – as long as they’re with a different provider. If it works, your phone isn’t locked. If it’s locked, then unlock it via the link. It will probably take up to 10 days and it might cost you (£10-ish), although there’ll probably be no charge if you’re out of contract.
Contact the Phone Co-op to discuss what package you’d like. On their site, they say that packages start at around £17 (ex-VAT) per month. Actually, if you don’t have a smartphone, and only want calls and texts, packages start at around £8 per month. Their prices are very competitive. You can call them on 01608 434000, and ask to be put through to residential sales, who will create an account for you while you’re on the phone. Lines are open 8-8 during the week, 9-3 on Saturday, and it’s quick to get through.
- Talk about which package you’d like – you’ll have a 30-day rolling contract, so you won’t be tied into anything.
- Give them your details, including your PAC code (see above).
- They’ll talk you through everything you need to do, set up your account and send you a SIM card.
- (By the way, you can’t order an extra SIM card in case you lose your phone. If you do lose your phone, call them immediately – they’ll cancel that SIM and send you a new one – next day delivery if you like).
- They’ll email you to let you know the day that your number will be switched from your old provider to the Phone Co-op (although they can’t tell you the exact time). It usually takes 4-5 working days. On that day, put your new SIM card in and you’re switched. If you put your new SIM in before the number has switched over, you’ll be on a temporary number, so if you want all your contacts to be able to get you, best to wait until later in the day.