Over the Christmas holidays, I completed my new year rationalisation of mobile contracts by switching my mobile phone from O2 (£16.50 for 200 minutes and a 500MB data bolt on, monthly rolling contract) to Giffgaff (£10 for 250 minutes and “unlimited” data). Having done so, I really don’t know why I didn’t do it sooner (apart from the fact I didn’t know about it!) – especially as Giffgaff not only runs on O2’s network but is actually owned by Telefonica/O2! Indeed, O2’s own careers website describes Giffgaff like this:
“Giff-what? Yes, we know it’s a funny name. Giffgaff is a brand new mobile network that doesn’t play by mainstream rules.
Instead, the company’s customers help run the company in return for cash rewards. Hence the term ‘giffgaff’, which means ‘mutual giving’, as any ancient Scot will tell you.
Customers can earn rewards for helping other customers with queries, designing marketing materials or by recruiting new members.
The business runs a tight ship – it has no call centres, high street shops and doesn’t splash out on expensive, glossy ad campaigns.
The result of this is that giffgaff keeps its costs low and and is able to pass the savings on to all its customers.
Although giffgaff is owned by O2 it is run as a separate company by a small group of passionate, full-time employees based in Beaconsfield just 8 miles north of Slough.”
This sounded good – and with a referral code that earned both me and the referrer a £5 credit I signed up. If you’re interested in signing up then we can both earn a fiver too!
So, what’s the catch? Surely there has to be one? The only difference that I can see is the support framework if things don’t work as they should. There is community support and you can “ask an agent” from the Giffgaff website but there is no call centre (which, depending on your view of call centres, may be A Good Thing).
Once I received my SIM, I activated it, including adding a £10 Goodybag to my account and then started to plan for transferring my number. I’ve had the same mobile number for a long time (10 years or more) and I didn’t want to lose it but there was clear guidance on the Giffgaff website setting out the steps I needed to take to transfer my number and setting my expectations for the day of transfer (although I did panic a bit when the number still hadn’t ported at the end of business hours – it finally became live in the early evening). I also needed to cut down the Giffgaff SIM to fit my phone (most phones use the standard SIM but my Nokia Lumia 800 uses a micro SIM) – there’s a template for this but I bought a SIM cutter for a few pounds on the Internet.
With my voice services transferred I needed to set up the APN for mobile data access on my smartphone, set up mobile messaging, and set up voicemail. All of this was covered in a handy Giffgaffer’s guide to Windows Phone 7(.5) – I’ve sure there are similar guides for iOS, Android, etc. too.
All in all, I’m really pleased with my switch to Giffgaff. If you’re not happy messing around with SIMs and entering a few settings in your phone, it may not be for you, but for anyone who is out of contract with their current mobile provider, is happy supporting their own technology, and who can get an O2 signal (the O2 status checker provides coverage details for a given postcode) then Giffgaff might be worth a try.