If you want some of the cheapest mobile call charges in the UK market you should certainly consider giffgaff a ‘sort of’ digital co-op run by its members which focuses on service and economy.
They keep their prices down by not having shops to maintain, not having call centers and, curiously, not having their own network.
They run on the 02 service, using its coverage and infrastructure but remain independent. This isn’t unusual as services such as Virgin, ASDA and Tesco mobile all run on networks provided by the big mobile companies.
So, how does it work, what do you get and is it worth changing over to?
giffgaff provides keen pricing on pay-as-you-go (PAYG) calls and monthly rolling contracts, so the first benefit is that you are not tied into a long contract.
The second benefit is that their prices are very competitive. Their PAYG prices are some of the best on the market with cross network UK calls costing 10p per min, texts 6p and Internet access for 20p per day (up to 20MB). You can top up anytime online with a credit or debit card and they keep you well informed about how much credit you have by sending a text after each call (which you can switch off if they drive you mad).
You can make even more savings by purchasing one of their monthly packages called ‘Goody Bags’. For the really occasional user their £5.00 package gives you 60 UK mins, 300 UK texts, 20MB of data and free giffgaff calls and texts to other giffgaff users. This is to use their G3 service but they also have similar Goody Bags for G4 services, Blackberry and just data.
If you need more minutes, and use the web on your phone a lot, they have a £10.00 package with 500 mins unlimited texts and 1GB Internet.
They have other optios (Goddy Bags) valued at £7.50, £12.00, £15.00, and £18.00 as well as those data only sims aimed at tablet users.
With all of the goody bags you also receive free giffgaff to giffgaff calls and texts as long as you continue to top up. Interestingly, free 0800 calls are actually free! Not many networks give you that.
To take advantage of these keen prices and packages you simply order a sim card, set up a free online account, activate your sim, top up with a debit or credit card and pop the sim into an unlocked phone.
This means you can keep the phone you love but take advantage of better pricing and no long contracts. Their site offers lots of advice on how to unlock phones, your current network can do it for you (sometimes for a fee) or you can use one of the high street unlockers.
Recently they began selling unlocked phones themselves so you can buy an entire package, pay for your phone monthly over 24 months (they provide credit) and add a goody bag of your choice.
KEEP YOUR NUMBER
You can even keep your current mobile phone number. Simply call your current network and ask them for a PAC code. By law they have to give you this without question. They last for 30 days and you then pop that into an online form at giffgaff and they move you mobile number over to their service.
giffgaff keeps its costs down by using their community of customers to answer questions and give advice online. A clever idea which means you don’t have to hang on the phone for ages waiting for a call center to try and work out your problem.
People who help with this sort of advice are paid with ‘PayBack’ points which they can exchange, twice a year, for cash, call credit or donate to charity.
Apart from great call charges, if you sign up to giffgaff, activate your sim, top up and then recommend a friend, who does the same, you get £5.00 call credit on your account, and they get £5.00 credit too. After this first one every person who joins the service on your recommendation, and tops up ( you can even order extra sims to hand out), you receive 500 PayBack points.
We tested giffgaff for a month and were very impressed. The new sim was delivered very quickly, activation was fast and simple, topping up online with a card was easy, call quality is very good (you can always check coverage on their site to make sure it works in your area), the online account is informative and easy to navigate, community help is, erm....., "helpful" and, very nicely, they send you an email each month analysing your usage and suggesting if you could save money by using another package or PAYG.
There is an element of ‘creativity’ and quirkiness which appeals in a market full of bloated, boring and unhelpful mobile phone networks. How much are you paying?