British Telecom: SIM codes

tl;dr summary

If you’re with a broadband provider other than BT, ask for the SIM code when you’re moving your telephone line.

Long version

British Telecom have a habit of making things unusually difficult for their ‘cheap’ customers.  Not only do they try and foist every single one of their sodding services on you when you only wish to make an enquiry, but they’re (deliberately or otherwise) quite adept at being very inconveniencing when it suits them.

If you don’t have broadband with them and you’re moving home, you may need a SIM code (simultaneous provide code) to transfer your broadband smoothly.  Failure to obtain this code means you can’t kick off the broadband transfer in parallel, meaning a much longer time period of downtime.  After arranging my phone line transfer, I phoned up BeUnlimited (an ISP I can thoroughly recommend) and was informed that I need a SIM code to move the broadband quickly.

I then entered the catacombs that is BT’s cavernous automated phone system.  After much swearing and several dead-ends (note: companies should NEVER tell me to hang up when I reach a dead-end – there should always be a ‘to speak to a human being, press 1’ option), I managed to get through to someone.

Anyway, it turns out that various BT operators don’t seem to know what the SIM code is and will gropingly state things like, “no, you mean a MAC code; I can arrange some broadband with BT for your new home, Mr. Simpson”, as you patiently try to explain that you have placed an order, and you wish to retrieve the SIM code associated with it as your existing broadband provider is asking for it. 

After much gnashing of teeth and stalling, the operator revealed that I cannot get the SIM after an order has been placed – it is generated once and discarded; they don’t take a note of it or mention its existence.  I was told I had to cancel the order, wait 24 hours and then re-order, then explicitly ask for the code during the order process next time around (as they don’t provide it as standard).

What an absolute shambles.  Can you imagine them doing the same thing to me had I been with BT for all services?  Not on your life.

Leave a comment ?


  1. Having been through the above rigmarole myself, and having finally spoken (at length!) with somebody who knows what they are talking about at Sunderland BT call centre, I can add the following:

    BT can’t / won’t produce or give out a SIM provide code for anybody on BT Basic (BT’s lower line rental “light user scheme” replacement for certain people on means tested benefits.)

    My only option when moving from one flat to another within the same residential care home is to upgrade to a standard BT package with its associated MUCH higher line rental, or to do without a SIM code and thus have a period without line rental on moving, having already paid £130 for the new line to be put in.

    I am not happy.

  2. Just going through the process of moving home, and phoned up BT to get my SIM code. Couldn’t get through for ages, so left my number on their ringback service with zero expectation of them returning my call. Much to my surprise, they called back in 5 minutes and were really helpful. Got my code no problems. Just to clarify, I am on the very basic line rental plan (about £14 a month)

  3. Well, I’m glad someone had a good experience :)

  4. Well – today I had to place the order with BT and believe me – if it wasn’t the only way for me I certainly wouldn’t as I had a very bad experience with their customer service in the past.

    Anyway – I’ve placed the order online and then called them to ask for the SIM code (as there was no option to do it while I was placing the order), but I’ve been told that because I only ordered the line rental with Anytime calls package they don’t have it. I would have to order their Broadband in order for them to be able to get it for me. What a nonsense – they really are the worst service providers in the UK!

  5. Have just Googled SIM code after being on the phone to both Virgin Media my Broadband provider & BT this code given to’s last week re a new line I’m getting (same address/different house). I ust say the info I got last week from the woman at BT conflicted with the info I got today, being told the SIM was for if I get a new number on the line,something I don’t want. Virgin M. were oblivious as to what the code was even after my explaining the new line to be put in on the 23rd (Jan), saying I will lose my & have to create a new package if I get a new number. What a bloody farce. BT don’t communicate with each other’s depts. I know that & who has to clear up the mess…? not them.

  6. Well ive had the same experience, just trying to move from TALKTALK to BT the bunch of cunts. I chatted to online BT as i ordered the line to be told i will be supplied a SIM reference, which transpired she was confused between MAC and SIM.
    Told me to call 0800 800 150 they say nope you can’t have a SIM not until the order is complete on the 24th so i cancelled my order. Honestly i moved away from BT as they were shit, and it’s a fresh reminder why, i hope they go down the pan, they dont deserve anyones business. Take the monopoly of the intfrastructure away from these bellends.

  7. Apart from the ridiculous wait on BT’s customer service line I fortunately didn’t have a problem. They first told me they couldn’t see the SIM number and I’d have to cancel the order then ring back in 24 hours, but after agreeing to that they came back to me and said they had found a way to view it.

  8. Moving Friday, so tried for a SIM today off BT. They said because I was taking over an existing line they din’t have it and I would just have to wait for my ISP to sort it when we moved in. As soon as I can abandon BT , I will

  9. This is really freaking Well i live had the same experience, just trying to move from TALK TALK to BT the bunch of cunts. I chatted to online BT as i ordered the line to be told i will be supplied a SIM reference, which transpired she was confused between MAC and SIM.So i think the customer service should be smart enough to handle the esquires of the customer.

  10. I think pushing extra services on basic package customers is normal whoever you receive your broadband phone services from.
    I have always found B T easier to deal with than some providers.

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