Why Giffgaff is our best telecom services provider 2014

by , Digital Producer Phone networks 19/06/2014
Giffgaff-award

Still relatively unknown, mobile phone provider Giffgaff beat competition from Tesco Mobile and broadband providers Plusnet, Utility Warehouse and Zen Internet to be named our top telecoms provider.

Shortlists and winners are determined by Which? experts, who pore over the results of investigations and surveys to select shortlists and overall winners in each category. Companies can’t put themselves forward for an award, unlike in many other industry awards.

The best telecom service provider award is based on the results of our surveys of broadband and mobile phone network providers. We ask thousands of customers about their provider to find out who is best for customer service, value for money and general service.

Which? Awards – find out who else won

Which? deputy technology editor Rory Boland says

Rory-BolandIt’s always great to see a small company enter the market and shake things up, and that’s exactly what Giffgaff has done.

It doesn’t have any shops, it doesn’t even have a customer service phone line – and that will be a deal-breaker for some people. Instead, if you do have a question, comment or problem, you’ll need to email it in or look through the Giffgaff forum. But what it does have is fantastic value for money.

Originally a pay-as-you-go provider (although they have moved into contract deals), a £12 bundle gives you unlimited UK texts, 250 UK minutes and, best of all, unlimited internet.  As someone who has switched to Giffgaff based on all the positive feedback we have had, I’ve found them an absolute bargain. And, while the unusual way of getting in touch with Giffgaff takes some getting used to, when problems have arisen I’ve had them solved promptly and politely.

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If you’ve switched to a different mobile phone provider, you’ll know that getting your phone unlocked is not always as simple as it should be. Many providers charge, even though you already own the handset, while others don’t let you know that they can unlock your phone, and after you’ve left the company it can be too late. Giffgaff and EE already unlock their handsets for free and we’d like to see other providers follow suit.

We’d also like to see providers make it easier for you to switch to the best deal for you. When your contract ends, your provider should offer you the best deal based on your usage. If, for example, you use around 90 minutes a month, your provider should offer you a deal that includes a 100 minutes, not a more expensive one with 500.

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41 comments

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John

I was attracted by your enthusiastic report on Giffgaff, but looking into it found it uses the O2 network. I need to have a connection in and around Peebles in the Scottish Borders, and O2 is pretty hopeless there. So I’ll stay with EE.

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Jay Jay

Agree. Surely Which should have told us the network at the beginning. Where I live, you have to go outside to get an O2 signal, not so nice when it is raining. I’ll stick with my Virgin deal using the EE network which gives me unlimited landline calls plus 120 minutes to mobiles for £10 a month.

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DerekP

Giffgaff have come “out of nowhere” to get this award. Here is a copy of the letter I sent to Which? almost two years ago:

Sent: 10 July 2012 18:56
To: letters
Subject: PAYG mobile phones

Dear Which?

I am surprised that i have not yet seen any mention of O2′s budget alternative, giffgaff, in any of your articles.

Over recent years I have migrated my PAYG phones to giffgaff, on the basis that it seems to offer the best value for money PAYG packages in combination with good network coverage from the O2 network.

For example, for £10 a month, you get 250 UK minutes, unlimited texts and internet use (but no tethering) and free calls and texts to giffgaff for the next three months. Other deals give more minutes, up to a ceiling of 1500 minutes for £25 per month. Calls to 0800 are free too.

Giffgaff now also provide a competitively service for PAYG mobile broadband dongles.

One of the main reasons for giffgaff’s lower charges is that they are largely an internet based service, which avoids the costs of running all those high street shops that other suppliers seem to need. They also make use of an internet based forum to reduce their customer’s needs for traditional call centre support. So you can a low-cost, no frills service, if that suits your preferences.

Joining giffgaff is easy – free SIM cards are sent out in response to internet requests and phones (and other devices) with work if they are locked to the O2 network or if they are unlocked.

Yours sincerely

Derek

Since then, giffgaff have had their ups and downs – including a few horrible network outages (including some also suffered by O2 and Tesco Mobile and some unique to customers. I think their basic value position remains sound – especially for low volume users, but giffgaff’s competitors have not been idle. The main phone I used to run on giffgaff is now on a Tesco capped contract – that gets it a better bundle of minutes but we miss the free 0800 calls.

Both of course share the O2 network. In the places I go, this seems to give good coverage but all networks seem to have their gaps and blackspots.

These Which? pages seem to be full of “hard luck stories” in which hapless customers have been sold mobile contracts by apparently greedy and unscrupulous netwook shops, who should have been well aware that their networks offerred little or no coverage at these customers’ residence or business locations.

More or less anyone can go online and check network coverage, although I have noticed that not all of the network websites make this especially easy to do.

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giffgaff_user

“Originally a pay-as-you-go provider (although they have moved into contract deals)”

There are no contracts. You can set a monthly bundle to recurr automatically so its as convenient as one but you can change or leave anytime

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realgiffgaffuser

They do offer contracts now. You buy a phone and are tied into 12 or 24 month contracts.

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Chris

Okay, to clear up any confusion

Giffgaff do offer contracts for their phones, and only their phones. Once you enter into an agreement to purchase one of their handsets on a payment plan, you are obliged to keep up the payments for the length of that contract.

However, giffgaff’s service and allowances are non contract. So, you can pay a fairly cheap rate for the handset itself, and opt in or out of monthly allowances and pay as you go allowances at any time. You can even continue to pay for the handset with giffgaff, and use another network entirely with the phone you’re still paying for… though with the current state of the market, I don’t know why you would unless you don’t have giffgaff coverage.

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giffgaff_user

giffgaff sell unlocked phones using peer to peer finance from ratesetters .You can walk away from giffgaff anytime..why? NO CONTRACT.

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Del

Hi. I’m thinking of joining giffgaff, but if I leave for any reason, how can I obtain my PAC from giffgaff please.

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giffgaff_user

Hi Del

The easiest way is to dial 43431 from a giffgaff phone and follow instructions. You can also request it from the website

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Del

Thank you giffgaff user. I’m dubious about joining giffgaff for two reasons: 1. I’m getting a new phone any day now and I’ve read reports about other people with the same phone having problems. 2. I couldn’t find anything about obtaining my PAC “from” giffgaff if I have any problems. I use 02 at the moment but giffgaffs offer is far superior to 02′s. I’ll find out in the first month if I’m staying or not won’t I.
Once again many thanks.

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raphael

I want to get my pac code

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raphael

I want to get my pac code how do i do that?

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giffgaff_user

raphael

From a giffgaff phone dial 43431 and follow instructions. You can also request it from an agent via the website.

Please ask any further giffgaff questions at giffgaff.com . Thank you.

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Michael spurr

Hi I topped up and bought a goody bag and payed via a visa but I haven’t received my goody bag and it has put extra credit on that I didn’t ask for can u please contact me to notify me were my credit is and it clearly shows on my account thank you.

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DerekP

Hi Michael,

Clearly something went wrong there!

When you top up giffgaff by voucher, you have to first put the voucher credit on as normal credit. Then you pay for your goody bag out of your normal credit (e.g. while you still have sufficient normal credit). So your problem might have an easy fix.

Like most offers, goodybags are subject to restrictions, e.g. only 1 at a time.

I used to find it annoying that I could never use credit card to top up my partner’s giffgaff phone using the giffgaff network and website – my credit card verification page always seemed to time out on me.

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ex-giffgaffer

giffgaff are trumpeting this award in the press but it is all based on false information and Which? really should re-evaluate it. giffgaff no longer provide ‘Unlimited’ internet in any form, it is all strictly limited and traffic managed to very low speeds. Any users who fail to limit their internet usage on the mis-named ‘Unlimited’ deals will find they are no longer able to purchase those deals.

It should also be noted that support is wholly inadequate too, you may get a response to common questions very quickly on the forums but these questions only need asking because giffgaff obfuscate access to a lot of information to stimulate use of the forums. Many other issues can not be resolved via the ‘community’ and require the assistance of an ‘Educator’ or ‘Agent’ who may respond in 24 hours if at all. Access to ‘Agents’ is also obfuscated by an awkward form that will fail more often than not.

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DerekP

I think the whole mobile phone industry is guilty of using “unlimited” in incorrect ways.

Someone one pointed out to me that no network can give you “unlimited” minutes – the most you could ever have in a month is 31*24*60 = 44640.

The same principle applies to data too. Even land-line based ISPs seldom quarantee minimum data rates, so even without any so-called fair use policy’s “unlimited data” must mean 31*24*3600*(some variable unspecified rate in bytes/second).

My experience is that giffgaff only provide relatively low data rates – O2 (and Tesco?) customers seem to get a bigger slice of that cake (but then we deserve to, we are paying more for our limited data allowances).

As I said in my previous post, I still think giffgaff is a good option for a low volume user to consider – but they aren’t the only game in town.

Personally I never had any problems with giffgaff and thus also never any cusomer service problems either. But I have seen plenty of evidence of the latter via their forums.

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DerekP

Inadvertent research in Sainsbury’s this morning shows that Sainsbury’s mobile are now offering rates of 8p/min for calls and 4p for texts. They also do 30-day “bundles”. For example £15 buys 800 mins + unlimited texts + 2GB data.

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IreneH

If I use a giffgaff sim am I able to buy a £5 voucher from O2 shop and use that to first set it up as well as further payments by phoning 43431? I very rarely use the internet.

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DerekP

Hi IreneH,

I think you’ll need to go onto giffgaff’s website to register for an account and to activate your sim card. (I set up a new one for a friend last week.)

If (i) you have a valid unregistered sim card and (ii) an email address you can assign to your new account and (iii) the giffgaff system is available and working, then the registration is a fairly quick and simple process.

Although you can just top up your “normal credit” using vouchers bought from any local shop, if you want to turn that credit into bundles (“goodybags”) then I think you also need to go to the online top up page for that.

Hence to get started with giffgaff, you need to have some form of internet access indpendent of giffgaff itself, for example broadband by landline, or a wifi hotspot somewhere, or even someone else’s mobile broadband.

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IreneH

Thanks Derek
I have tried to purchase the £5 voucher but the outlets I have tried only do from £10. I am a very low user and do not need internet, so I guess I can only do it over the internet for £5 using my card which I do not really like to do

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Jes

You can buy giffgaff airtime credit using £10 voucher, then buy a £5 goody bag using your credit. If you have a SIM from a friend, you need use £10 to get your extra £5 credit when you register, but you have 3 months before you must top up using another £10 in order to keep your free giffgaff to giffgaff texts and calls.

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Lynn

I currently have an IPhone 3GS payg on the O2 network. Do I have to still get my phone unlocked to use a giffgaff payg sim?

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giffgaff_user

Hey Lynn You can O2 phones on giffgaff, no unlockng needed

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Doctor Pain

Dare you to check out this thread on GG website and then decide if GG is really 2014′s best telecom provider…

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Doctor Pain

check out the thread on GG site regarding the new goodybags – go to the GG community web site and find the thread about goody bag community consultation.. makes great reading!!

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Richard

What the actual f**k!! This network is a total joke! 3 hours to log in and I still can’t get on to top up or buy anything???? Free sim is pointless if I can’t use it!
YOU WILL NOT BE GETTING MY BUSINESS ANYTIME SOON!
TOTAL AND UTTER SHITE

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charli

My interest has been playing up for days and days!! I’m sick of it now and it’s becoming a regular thing for me and my friends on Giffgaff.. I am NOT willing to pay for a service I am not receiving and I will take this further. I expect this month refunded as this is beyond a joke now!!!! Get it sorted!

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Richard Merritt

I have tried GiffGaff on two numbers for over a year. Have had service issues and their customer support and complaints is appalling so I have left with both numbers.

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becky

how do i change adult settings

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Amy

Hi iv forgotten my password for my giffgaff to update it and top it up but I have also changed my email and now I can’t log into anything to too my phone up is there any other way of topping up or adding a new email maybe get it sent to my phone instead of sending it to my old email?

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giffgaff_user

Hi Amy

Open a new account and using that contact an agent with details of your problem.
You can top up by phone on 43430 but can’t buy a goody bag ( they are on line only )

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Peet

After only a month of usage, Giffgaff changed the regular £12 unlimited goodybag to have next to no internet data without any warning whatsoever. A complete waste of £12. I’m certainly not recommending this network to anybody when they will obviously just keep hiking up the price of basic services for no reason. Services that were shamelessly throttled during daylight hours anyway.

Giffgaff are now charging the same rates as Hutchisons ’3′ network, which is a great deal faster and more reliable. Their tariffs haven’t changed in years.

‘Which?’ approval obviously isn’t what it once was.
02-10-2014

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giffgaff_user

@Peel

The price changes were introduced after months of consultation with members and were made neccessarry after abuse of unlimited data bags by a minority..The inceases were well flagged on the website for the last few months

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Jim

I’ve been on the £12 unlimited data goody bag for years and have only once exceeded 3GB in a month. Sure, I could have saved money buying the £10 (3GB data) goody bag instead, but I liked the idea that Unlimited was there – just in case.

Giffgaff’s “members consultation” was more like Sophie’s Choice
Members were offered:
Plan 1. Worse than the one you have.
Plan 2. Much worse than the one you have
Plan 3. Pay a lot more for the same thing.
Ok giffgaffers, you decide!

Why did Giffgaff punish sensible users instead of data abusers?

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Chris

I may be in the minority here, but I’m actually pleased with giffgaff’s changes to the £12 goodybag. Allow me to explain why.

Previously, this goodybag had unlimited data. Sounds great? Yes, but the deal breaker for me was tethering not being allowed. Since I own a wifi only tablet, I tether it to my phone frequently when away from home. Even though tethering is difficult to enforce, it’s technically possible to detect usage patterns that wouldn’t belong on a mobile phone, so I opted for the £10 1GB package instead.

Now, with the £12 goodybag allowing tethering, I pay 20% more for 200% more data allowance. Not having to worry about creeping over 1GB a month is the difference between night and day for me, and I’m sure there are other users out there with similar experiences.

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Peet

@giffgaff_user

So it’s our fault then? We’re all being justly punished then? Is that your point there?

According to the T&C, Giffgaff claimed they had an automated policy of restricting abusive individuals and denying service to them. This might apply to people for example, tethering, or using torrent clients.

That Giffgaff are presumably incapable of administrating their own policies does not give them a green light to demand an extra £36 per year across the board. No, this was motivated by a hunger for revenue. And we, the clients, are not to blame.

And they may have well have been ‘flagging’ the news on the wall of a public urinal for all I know. If it didn’t reach the actual consumers like me, then it is a failed communication.

Not good enough.

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DerekP

Some of the keen giffgaffers (?) on the giffgaff forums have previously made the scurrilous suggestion that giffgaff’s marketeers should adopt the strapline:

Giffgaff: communication is our business but not our strength.

As an O2 & Tesco Mobile user and (mostly) former giffgaff user my impression of giffgaff’s internet service has always been poor, on account of its apparent low bandwidth.

So if you talk and text a lot and have an excellent phone like a 2G Blackberry, when it is not it forced outage, giffgaff is a good value network to use.

But if you have a 3G super smart phone and want to use the ahem “unlimited” internet to download loads of data – you might be better off elsewhere. My O2 contract allows me to tether and gives good bandwidth if I need to do Windows upgrades (or whatever) over the mobile internet. I think I pay about £20 for a package that includes 1GB of data and can add a further 1GB of data for £5 a month. Luckily(?) I have a land line too, so I can use that if I need to download multiple GBs of data.

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Elvis Aaron Presley

I can’t get into my giffgaff account when I try putting my username and password in it says that it’s wrong but I no its right can you help me please

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Waqar Ahmed

I purchased a top up on 19/10/14 at 14:40 at a pay point fm stores s61 1EA
My voucher number is 5358194192707677 when I add the top up to my account it appears as an error invalid voucher number

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Mitesh Lad

Hello there i would like to take out a mobile contract deal but have you got anything in the 10 pound å month? This is my mobile number 07403 407 501 and my landline number is 01788 579954.

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