About giffgaff - 'The Network Run by You'
giffgaff touts itself as the “mobile network run by you”. While it’s not exactly installing phone masts in our living rooms for our neighbours, it does have an inventive, crowd-sourced approach to customer service, one that actually works quite well if the company’s advocates are to be believed. This approach keeps its overheads low, giving you savings on contracts and handsets. In fact, sometimes the lowest prices on brand new iPhones can be found at giffgaff.
Beyond iPhones, Giffgaff’s menu of handsets includes the standards - Huawei, Nokia, Samsung, Sony. They’re all available to buy either outright or to pay off in instalments via your monthly bills. You can also snag pre-owned previous generation phones via giffgaff’s Marketplace for savings, and you also sell your old phone back to giffgaff for cashback.
Giffgaff also offers SIM-only deals branded as goodybags, with data allowances ranging from 500MB to 20GB. Those above 3GB are bundled with unlimited airtime and texts. You can get a SIM with unlimited data - the “Always On” goodybag - but speed restrictions apply between 8am and midnight once you use more than 20GB a month. Goodybags are offered on rolling, 30-day contracts, allowing you to adjust your allowance each month if you’ve been too greedy with goodies - or if you’re using less than you thought you would.
Giffgaff is a mobile virtual network operator, meaning it works over one of the UK’s major mobile networks. In giffgaff’s case, it’s O2, so its customers benefit from the download speeds and coverage that O2 provide. O2 offers 4G to more than 99% of the UK population, with outdoor geographic coverage of 74% and indoor premises of 95%. Its indoor coverage is the best in Britain, but its 4G speeds lag behind its competitors. At 15.8 Megabits per second (Mbps), it’s less than half EE’s speed (32.5 Mbps). But O2 has the second best 4G availability - customers are able to connect to it 84% of the time and avoid slower 3G.
Have a problem with the network or your contract? Customer service at giffgaff is done a little differently. It doesn’t offer a call centre or customer service line. Instead, if you have a question about goodybags (e.g. "why don’t they come with a slice of cake?”) you can consult giffgaff’s knowledge base - an elaborate FAQ created and maintained by “members,” covering all the problems customers have experienced thus far. Guides range from “What’s the best plan for me?” to “Help! I have lost my top-up voucher, what should I do?”. If the knowledge base fails you, you can then pitch your question to the community of giffgaff users. If you have an account related question, you can ask an agent - but only via an online form.
So, does this alternative, crowd-sourced customer service work? It seems to. In Ofcom’s 2019 customer satisfaction league tables, giffgaff came first among mobile providers, with 96% of its customers satisfied, including 68% very satisfied. Giffgaff has won awards from customer service sites and loyalty from its customers. And that lean customer service operation means savings they can pass onto you, through lower mobile tariff and handset prices.
Giffgaff promises “control, flexibility, and freedom”. It’s offbeat, but it may suit you.