giffgaff: an alternative to your mobile phone service?

Do you trust your mobile phone service to give you the best deal? My bet is that – even if you consider yourself to be someone who’s in the know – at some point you’ve been confused by complicated tariffs, felt cheated on the deal you were sold, or let down by your service. Amongst consumers, this is all too often what mobile phone services are known for.

What does giffgaff offer to its customers?

Enter giffgaff, the type of company that likes to brand its name in lower case. It calls itself ‘the mobile network run by you’ and has been operating for a few years now, providing an alternative, community-based service with the customer at its heart. Its unique selling point is that it offers transparency, value for money and a symbiotic partnership with users: precisely what other providers are thought to lack.

giffgaff is fundamentally a pay-as-you-go service, operating on O2’s network. It offers goodybags’, monthly packages which for all intents and purposes function as a monthly rolling contract, if you choose their auto top-up’ option. Text and minutes are cheap, especially compared with other networks. Many of the goodybags offer unlimited data: and the data is truly unlimited, no secret clauses (but no tethering either). Essentially, you get a straightforward, uncomplicated deal that you can opt out of at almost the drop of a hat.

How does it keep costs down?

The company has a few simple tricks to keep costs down, which reflect their community ethos. No call centres, no high street shops, very little marketing and advertising. Promotion is achieved through word-of-mouth; indeed, that’s how I heard about it.

But this isn’t a cheap scam. A small team runs a modest head office. There’s a number customers can dial if they need help, primarily with credit card issues. Problems are instead solved in the forums by the online user community; you usually have a response within 90 seconds. The giffgaff team asks users what they want through the forum, and the users tell them.

What’s in it for me?

giffgaff rewards its users for their forum contributions in points which equate to real money through its payback’ system: this is reimbursed twice a year, in the form of mobile credit, cash, or a donation to your chosen charity. £1.8 million was paid out in December 2012. Not bad.

It’s a low-cost, efficient business model, and it works. It is, admittedly, not for everyone, but that is its appeal. It’s alternative, honest and it listens: exactly what its users are looking for.


Can I get your number? Find out more about giffgaff on its website – how about consulting the online community to see what they think?

Designed by: Carne Associates & modified by Dawud Miracle