As the week and month comes to a close, I’ve decided to write my first product review.
Today, I will be reviewing GiffGaff mobile.
When it comes to mobile phones, I see thousands of people asking the same questions on Google – Where can I get a contract phone with a bad credit rating? Or Free minutes no contract? Or others. Being one of these people a few months ago, I came across GiffGaff.
GiffGaff has been running for just over 2 years. Owned by o2, all signal is taken from the o2 network, meaning a pretty decent signal all across the country.
The most unique part of GiffGaff is that customers can participate in certain parts of the business. With customers providing sales, customer service and marketing in exchange for certain rewards, GiffGaff saves a fortune on wages, which means they’re able to charge much less when it comes to tariffs.
Goody Bags and UK Tariffs
The Goodybags are the most popular reason people use Giffgaff, because of the fantastic value they provide. It’s also like being on a contract, without a direct debit and the possibility to be stung for a large bill.
All you have to do is either top up online using your credit or debit card, or buy a voucher from the shop. You can top up online or by dialing 43430 from your mobile.
The following Goodybags are available
- £10 a month – 250 UK Minutes, Unlimited UK Texts, Unlimited Internet, Free Calls to any GiffGaff Mobile
- £15 a month – 400 UK Minutes, Unlimited UK Texts, Unlimited Internet, Free Calls to any GiffGaff Mobile
- £20 a month – 800 UK Minutes, Unlimited UK Texts, Unlimited Internet, Free Calls to any GiffGaff Mobile
- £25 a month – 1500 UK Minutes, Unlimited UK Texts, Unlimited Internet, Free Calls to any GiffGaff Mobile
- £5 a month – Unlimited UK Texts, Free Calls to any GiffGaff Mobile
- £5 Hokey Cokey – 60 UK Minutes, 300 UK Texts, Unlimited Internet, Free calls to any GiffGaff Mobile and the chance to earn extra minutes
|Calls, texts, call forwarding and video calls to giffgaff||Free|
|Calls to other UK mobiles, landlines (starting 01, 02, 03)||10p per minute|
|Texts to other UK mobiles and landlines||6p per text|
|Voice mail||8p per call|
|Mobile Internet (up to 20MB)||20p per day|
|Picture messages (MMS) to giffgaff and other mobiles (max 300KB)||16p per MMS|
|Video calls to other mobiles||50p per minute|
|Call forwarding to other mobiles and landlines||10p per minute|
|Free phone numbers (starting 0800, 0808 & 0500)||Free|
Another great offer from GiffGaff is the paypack scheme. If you do something for them, they reward you in the form of payback points (1 point = 1p), and every six months, you can either claim the money back in cash via Paypal, get it as airtime credit or donate it to charity.
Here are some of the things you can do to earn reward points –
- Send a sim card to your friends and get 500 points for each activated card
- Share your personalised SIM order page and get 500 points for all activated sim cards that were ordered from the page
- If a friend puts your member name as recommender when ordering a SIM you’ll get 200 points
- You’ll also earn points by helping other giffgaffers out in the forum
My personal review and the thoughts of others
I’ve been using GiffGaff for roughly 6 months, and have found the experience to be a good one. The signal is always good, and the goodybags have made it like a contract phone. I’ve had no issues with receiving or making calls and texts, and the internet service has been better than that of my last network (T Mobile)
Unfortunately though, GiffGaff has had a few teething problems regarding topping up. There has twice now been a delay in adding goodybags on, meaning I’ve had to go into my balance to make calls and texts. One on occasion, I had to settle for a £10 goodybag instead of a £15 one because of this. However, they’re always quick to try and help, and respond quickly to any problems I may have.
I also recently asked a few users to give me their reviews on GiffGaff, to give the readers more than one opinion.
James was kind enough to take the time to answer my questions on the matter..
1. How long have you been using GiffGaff?
I ported my number into Giffgaff from T-Mobile in late October 2010. I used the Giffgaff SIM occasionally for about a month before that in order to test the service.
I had been with T-Mobile since March 2009. Before T-Mobile, I was with Three, then Orange, then Vodafone, then One2One if you go far enough back! I’m no stranger to changing network to get the best offer.
2. How much do you spend monthly, on average?
Each month I get a £15 goodybag which covers all of my normal usage, apart from about £2 or £3 that goes on 0845/0870 numbers and similar.
3. What do you think of the service?
The service has mostly been good. See 6 for details of the few problems that I’ve had. Their approach to customer service is an interesting one – I’ve only needed to contact them about three times, but each time it has been a very mixed experience. I like the idea of having community experts in the forums to help people, but ultimately if someone is having a serious problem with their service, they need to be able to get a reply from a network employee within a couple of hours. This is rarely the case.
4. Has it saved you money?
Yes, I’ve saved a decent amount of money with Giffgaff. On T-Mobile, my bills were about £35 a month. I switched to buying phones “handset only” about two and a half years ago.
5. Have you had any issues with signal (network service)
I find that Giffgaff signal (obviously through the O2 network) is similar, but slightly less universal than the signal that I got through T-Mobile. This seems inevitable though, as through Everything Everywhere T-Mobile and Orange’s networks have been combined – and they also have a mutual 3G network sharing agreement with Three. It is difficult for O2 and Vodafone to compete with their coverage, but within urban areas they all seem pretty good.
6. Have you had any problems with the service?
Over the last year and a half, I can remember two major incidents. The first was a nationwide data outage lasting about six hours in early 2011, and the second was a major network outage lasting about ten hours in March 2012. Other than these, the network itself has seemed as reliable as all major networks. Within the last few months though, calls have failed to connect and texts have failed to send on first attempt a few times a week – although I make rather a lot of calls and send a lot of texts so it may affect me more than others.
7. Would you recommend GiffGaff to anybody else?
If you had asked me this six months ago, I would have said yes without even having to think about it. Today, I’m not sure. They’re pretty good, but I keep contemplating leaving for another network. Ultimately, a small network run by 20-30 people is going be less reliable than one with 16,000 and more customers to keep happy. We’ve reached a point where people expect you to be contactable in an emergency – and so people need their networks to be reliable in an emergency. When they experienced a full network outage about a fortnight ago, I saw several people posting on Twitter, Facebook, and their forums stating that the outage had “ruined their day”. It sounds daft, but it is true for a lot of people. In my case, the outage happened to coincide with a problem with my home internet connection which meant that I was entirely uncontactable for several hours.
8. Anything else?
I’m a self-employed freelancer, so my phone is incredibly important to me. Whether I am using calls, texts, or data, I need them to be reliable. YES, Giffgaff specifically don’t offer any business plans (and PAYG phones aren’t recognised by HMRC as tax deductible), but it is easier for me to use my personal phone for business than to carry two phones, deal with two bills, and segregate calls correctly. Overall, I use my phone more for personal use than business use – but when I do use it for business use, it has to work.
I’m not unique in this though – I’ve seen many other people on the Giffgaff forums saying similar: if someone from work needs to call them in at short notice, their phone should be reliable; if someone from university needs to call them about a lecture being cancelled, their phone should be reliable.
I think that ultimately, Giffgaff is an experiment. They’re owned by O2, so they’re financially secure, and if they completely fail then O2 will just wind them up and the top management will go back to working for O2. As a result, they don’t particularly care about customer retention. They’ve been cruising along, getting good press and gaining customers based on the image of being the cool new indie mobile network. Now they’ve reached the point where the image is wearing off and people are starting to judge them based on their performance, and some of their customers are starting to realise that being with them is a real mixed bag.
Ultimately, I think that Giffgaff have achieved the main thing that they set out to do: all five main UK networks are now offering relatively competitive rolling monthly SIM-only contracts. Only a couple of them offered them when Giffgaff launched, and they were far from competitive.
What I’ve written sounds quite negative overall, so I’d just like to sum up by saying that I’ve found Giffgaff cheap, easy, and mostly reliable. I do like them.
So there you have it. If you’re looking for a cheap sim only deal without the worry of going over your minutes and racking up a huge bill, you should definitely have a closer look at GiffGaff mobile.