Sunday 18 December 2011

Joining giffgaff

I heard about giffgaff from a coworker after I was once again cursing the lack of signal in the office with my previous network provider. I recently (last week) migrated over to these guys. Here's a brief summary of what it is all about.

  • Pay As You Go - contract free and free sim! No lock in means I'm not tied down to them if I'm happy and so my options remain open.
  • Monthly Goody Bags - for a fixed fee there are packages you can add when you know your usage is going to be high.
  • Genuinely unlimited Internet usage - though after further reading they don't allow tethering (which is fair enough - there will be people that will constantly stream content otherwise). Googling a little more and searching their community forums it seems there is an unofficial 20GB limit. I really don't feel this is particularly restrictive cap given my usage since I've had a smartphone.
  • Free calls and text to fellow giffgaff users - this is quite common but useful to know.
  • Runs on O2 network - I've used O2 for 14 years and their coverage is capable enough in my experience.
  • Community support - plenty of forums supported by existing customers
  • Cash back scheme - spread the word and earn cash for using. I wouldn't personally go out and push a product unless I believed and used the product myself.
It sounded perfect and other people that were already on giffgaff were happy with their experience. So I decided to move over to them. It really wasn't very difficult either.


  • Requested free SIM to be delivered with email confirming it had been sent


  • No sign of it, but I suspect Mr Postie being overwhelmed with Christmas post.
  • Requested PAC from Vodafone.


  • Entered code on their website to active the SIM and created an account. Unfortunately it was after 10pm and would be active in the morning according to documentation. If I had done it before 10pm it would have been done in 30mins. I don't know why they can't activate throughout the night but I'm not too bothered.
  • PAC texted to my phone. Ready to leave!


  • SIM is active with PAYG credit I added via their website. Also setup auto topup.
  • I enter PAC to begin transfer. Later in the day I got a message (via there website dashboard) from one of their agents confirming that it would be transferred tomorrow.


  • Midday number has transferred. Woo hoo!
  • No Internet access - a quick search gave me information for Android Settings.
  • Added £10 GoodyBag to get me going.
That's it! Looking back I reckon you can realistically change over to giffgaff in 2 days if you didn't have to wait for the SIM to turn up. For those people interested give me a yell in person as I have a few SIMs to hand out people in interested in trying it out. It comes with a free £5 credit. And I get something out of it too! Or you could click this link to request a SIM to be sent to you directly.

So far the biggest noticeable change is that I have better connectivity (the issues I had with my previous provider you can find here) and have much more control about how much I spend or not spend on a monthly basis. The process of configuring my handset could be automated or eased by a simple settings request form as part of the dashboard. The experience overall is positive. We will see..

Send me a free SIM

Thursday 15 December 2011

Goodbye Vodafone

I have been a customer of Vodafone for almost 2 years and during this time there has been little interest or effort put into understanding if I was a happy customer. This is a common problem with big businesses - they lose the personal touch that the successful smaller businesses provide and finding new business is more important than keeping existing customers happy. The individual experience very quickly disappears into a statistic in a report appearing in some manager's email.

Prior to signing up for a 24 month contract with Vodafone I was with O2 for over 14 years. The reason I stayed with them for such a long period was because my experience wasn't plagued with frustration and dissatisfaction. The reason I wandered to another provider was purely because they didn't offer the handset I wanted at the time.

So what was it about Vodafone that was disappointing?
  • 3G coverage - its poor.I live and work in central london - within zone 2. I rarely use my phone for calling people in favour of texting and mostly Internet browsing capability. I don't really care for any statistics or maps indicating how excellent their coverage is. What really matters is when I'm out and about I have connectivity rather my battery being drained from my handset trying to connect.
  • 'Unlimited' Internet - it was labelled as such at the time. It was my first smart phone and I didn't really know what my monthly usage was going to be. Vodafone charged £5 for 500MB and the contract included 500MB for the month. This was generally enough on a quiet month when I wasn't doing much. Quiet months are usual for me. So this meant I spilled over 500MB often. When I was moving flat (before and after) when I didn't have Internet access at home I easily ended up using 2GB. For the amount of money I spent I was convinced I could get a better offer else where.
  • 24 months minimum contract was the only one that was available to me to get the phone for free. This is too long and is a bad mismatch with the frequency of new handsets reaching the market. During the 24 months I did resort to buying a new handset outright. Also the price plan I was on was quickly became expensive with other market offerings.
  • Website - unreliable and user unfriendly. This included java stack traces ofNull Pointer Exceptions in their web application. This does not make for a good user experience and just shows incompetence.
I had requested a PAC to pass to my new provider and  shortly afterwards a representative from Vodafone called me to try persuade me to stay with promise of lower monthly bills. It was a case of too little too late and I find it hard to justify continuing giving them my money. For those interested I moved over to giffgaff and I'll be summarising my experience so far in a future entry.