Giffgaff Mobile Network Review
I have been using Giffgaff now for over a year. This post is a review of my experience with them and what I like and dislike about the network compared with other contracts I have used in the past.
If you don't feel like reading this whole post, skip to the bottom where I have included a summary of the advantages and disadvantages (there is also an intro video for the network).
If you are already half sold on the concept, I recommend ordering a SIM which costs you nothing - It comes with lots of information about the various options available to you and £5 free credit. Simply click the button below:
The main difference between other networks and Giffgaff is that Giffgaff is run by the members of the community. If you are new and have any questions or have any issues with the network or setting up your phone, you should head to the community forum.
I previously had a Blackberry and knew I wanted an iPhone eventually. When wanting to join Giffgaff I still had the Blackberry so I needed a SIM card to fit that phone initially and then would need to move across to the iPhone easily. Going on the forum I quickly got an answer (well actually lots of answers, which was good).
You always have people answering your questions, almost immediately. This is a good thing about the way the network works, Giffgaff rewards users when participating on the forum and answering questions and therefore people have a reason to help.
You probably know that Giffgaff runs on the O2 network, just the same as Tesco mobile does. I was previously on Orange and now get better coverage with Giffgaff (in my area anyway), I'm sure Orange have better coverage in places. It all depends on where you live, so ask others you know who are already on O2.
Using the phone in different places has always been fine, no issues to report on the coverage side of things. There does not seem to be any differences between being an O2 user and a Giffgaff user (what I mean is that there doesn't seem to be any priority towards O2 users on the network as some people have questioned).
I have seen people comment previously on the downtime issue at Giffgaff. Since I have been part of the network it has been down once and only for a few hours. A visit to the forum will quickly tell you if others are experiencing problems and agents usually keep everyone updated to what is going on.
Update in 2013: The network has probably had two issues in the whole year I have been with them (only remember one though).
It hasn't bothered me too much as I know you get what you pay for. It has only gone down once which you tend to expect as Giffgaff won't have access to a large department of engineers working purely for them (or little in comparison). Also, some issues may be due to errors on the O2 network which is mostly out of their control.
Topping up is easy, although a little different to other tariffs. You start with £5 credit if you were referred by someone on the network. You need £10 for the most common 'Goodybag' so this means you have to add £10 to your account (you cannot add an additional £5 to your account). I still have the original £5 in my account, but I can probably pay £15 into my account to make this £20 (two months worth of top-ups). Or just keep it in case I forget to buy a Goodybag in time.
Goodybags are a cheaper way of using the network and are more similar to the types of packages you get on other contracts. Without using these you will have to pay for calls, texts and data separately (and this may get expensive). Most people will get by with the £10 Goodybag which will give you:
- 250 UK Minutes
- Unlimited Texts
- 1GB of Internet
The £12 Goodybag (newly introduced) will get you:
- 250 UK Minutes
- Unlimited Texts
- Unlimited Internet
The £10 Goodybag used to have unlimited internet, however Giffgaff recently changed this to 1GB of data. This has not made a difference to me as 1GB is more than enough (they send you regular updates of your usage for the best tariff). If you prefer to have unlimited internet, it's only £2 more a month - less than a sandwich.
The £10 Goodybag should be more than enough for most people, unless you use lots of minutes each month. £15 per month will get you the same with 400 UK Minutes, if you need to use more (also comes with unlimited internet).
Each month you need to add money to your account and then buy a Goodybag with this money. It doesn't take long but with other contracts you have the security of this process happening automatically.
In the future Giffgaff may automate this process, but there is no definite answer yet. On the 25/06/12 Giffgaff enabled automated Goodybag purchases to work alongside automatic top-ups when your account balance falls below £3. This is great considering this was one of the only down-sides of using the network.
Blackberry users please note that you will need to pay a little extra for use of the Blackberry features such as BBM, this is an extra £3 a month.
Getting a SIM Card
Getting a SIM card is as simple as going on to the Giffgaff website and ordering a free SIM. They will send you a card in a few days and there is no obligation to sign up.Simply visit here!
Giffgaff agents are available if there is a big problem, but don't expect the customer service department to be of the size of other phone networks. This is how they save money and offer cheaper phone tariffs. For most issues the community will be more than able to help. I haven't came across a problem I wasn't able to fix by visiting the community forum. Someone else has more than likely had the same issue previously and you can just search for the solution.
Compatibility with iPhone
Giffgaff works great with the iPhone. You need to get hold of a Micro-SIM, or alternatively get a standard SIM and cut it down with a template (you can get these all over the place e.g. eBay).
As I needed a standard sized SIM for my Blackberry and a Micro-SIM for when I got the iPhone, someone offered to send me a Micro-SIM with a free adaptor for the Blackberry which was helpful.
The generous data limit is great for the iPhone to browse the net, download and use Apps. The internet is completely unlimited however is subject to fair use. I am a bit worried that people will abuse this and force Giffgaff to apply a limit (although no signs yet of them doing this, even through recent tariff changes). So believe the fact that it is unlimited, just don't abuse this.
Advantages of Using Giffgaff
Here is a list of the advantages:
- No contract, stop whenever you like.
- Cheap to use compared with standard contracts or tariffs (as long as you use the Goodybags).
- Unlimited texts with £10 top-up.
- Large data allowances (subject to fair use).
- Community benefits and the ability to earn points towards balance payments.
- The flexibility to change phones when you like, without contractual costs.
Disadvantages of Using Giffgaff
Here is a list of disadvantages:
- You have to buy your own phone. This gives you the flexibility to change phone whenever you like but may not suit some people.
- The lack of top level support - The community are really helpful and will tell you most of what you need, but there is a feeling that it is most likely quite difficult to get hold of someone employed by the company if needed (there are ways, I just haven't needed to contact them myself).
There are a few fairly similar alternatives out there. You can get Pay as you Go deals where you have to top-up a specific amount each month to receive the benefit of free texts, a set number of minutes and data usage. This is probably the most similar alternative to the Giffgaff setup.
There are also some pretty good deals with the likes of Vodafone, 3 and Tesco who in response to the competition seem to be continually adding cheaper deals. The only drawback is the long contracts you typically get.
Despite my first impressions where I was a bit hesitant, I am really impressed with Giffgaff. The system appears to work pretty well and I won't be moving anytime soon. Looking around on the forums, it appeared that quite a few people worry that with Giffgaff they are getting a second rate service, that they won't be a priority compared with O2 users. This really doesn't appear to be the case, it works just as well as my previous phone did on the Orange network.
If you are thinking about joining Giffgaff or just want to try it out, use the following link and you will get £5 free towards your credit when you sign up (click image below). There no obligation to pay anything if you decide not to join after receiving the SIM card.
I hope this review has helped, if you have any specific questions feel free to message me from the contact page. If interested in joining, use the link below to sign up for a Free Giffgaff SIM with £5 free credit.
Here is a short intro video from Giffgaff:
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