Sainsbury’s has joined Asda and Tesco in launching its own mobile phone network: Mobile by Sainsbury’s. It’s a virtual service that uses Vodafone’s network and infrastructure but is packaged and priced by Sainsbury’s.
It’s aiming to rival both Tesco Mobile, which is run in partnership with O2, and Asda Mobile, also twinned with Vodafone, on price and convenience. The idea being you can pick up a new mobile alongside a tub of neopolitan ice cream and the rest of your weekly shop.
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* Not directly comparable
Mobile by Sainsbury’s is the cheapest tariff
To see which network is cheapest, we put their pay as you go tariffs head to head for calls, texts and data. As you can see from the graph above, Sainsbury’s is cheapest across all categories charging 8p/min for calls and 4p per text, the same prices as Tesco’s pay as you go ‘Lite’ tariff.
In terms of data, the pricing is slightly more complex (and not directly comparable) although Mobile by Sainsbury’s is by far the cheapest option. It charges 50p per day for up to 25MB, whereas data from Tesco Mobile costs 60p per MB (with a £5 daily limit) and Asda Mobile will set you back 75p for 25MB and then 50p per MB thereafter.
According to Ofcom the average smartphone owner uses 424 MB data per month, which should cost between £8.50 and £15.50 on Mobile by Sainsbury’s. On Tesco Mobile it could cost as much as £155, while Asda will charge £200.25.
* Tesco Mobile = Sony Xperia Miro
Asda Mobile most expensive for handsets
So Mobile by Sainsbury’s may offer an affordable pay as you go tariff, but how does it fare on phone prices? We took four handsets sold by all three networks and compared their prices. The results showed Asda Mobile to be by more expensive than its competitors in each example, even when we had to substitute a Sony Xperia Miro for the slightly better Sony Xperia E in the case of Tesco Mobile.
The biggest price difference between providers comes if you want to buy a BlackBerry Curve 9320. The handset will cost you £99 from Mobile by Sainsbury’s and a whopping £150 from Asda Mobile. Tesco Mobile charges £110 for the same mobile.
Even in the case of the ultra-budget Nokia 100 Asda charges £20; more than double Tesco Mobile’s £9 and significantly more than Mobile by Sainsbury’s £12.
What about customer satisfaction?
Each year Which? surveys over 4,000 members of the public to find out about their mobile phone network. We asked customers about everything, from how easy it is to contact customer service and how useful they are when you have a problem to coverage and calling costs.
Despite its comparably high prices, Asda came out joint top for customer service in our survey and customers were impressed with the service they received. And when there was a problem, Asda was reportedly quick at getting it fixed. Tesco similarly garnered praise for its ability resolve any problems customers had.
So although Mobile by Sainsbury’s seems to be offering a competitive service in terms of pricing, it will need to have first class customer service to compete with Asda and Tesco.
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