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Giffgaff help, issues and complaints

By Tim Smith | Monday, June 12th 2023

Chances are that, along with your keys, your mobile phone is the other item you're never without. If you're with giffgaff, what happens if something goes wrong, though?

Because giffgaff has no call centres or any kind of staffed helpline, it can be daunting wondering where to find help. In this guide we will take you through some of the most common issues faced by giffgaff customers and how to resolve them. We will also provide advice on how to navigate giffgaff's own, unique help system.

What actually is giffgaff?

Giffgaff is a virtual mobile network provider that operates on the O2 network. It also sells new and refurbished handsets. Let’s take a look at what’s interesting about giffgaff.

Choice of contract lengths

For its SIM-only deals, giffgaff offers a choice of 18-month plans, rolling monthly plans and pay-as-you-go plans, meaning there is something to suit every budget and situation. You can change your plan each month even on the 18-month contracts.

Giffgaff offers both truly unlimited data plans and also what it calls Always-On plans, which come with a fixed (albeit high) amount of data. Once you’ve used this allowance, you’ll still be able to get online, but at a drastically reduced speed between 8am and midnight, giving you a way of keeping connected, just not at optimum speed.

No call centres

Giffgaff is what's called a Mobile Virtual Network Operator or MVNO. Sounds complicated? It isn't. This means that giffgaff uses someone else's network, in this case O2. But it doesn't use O2's staff nor its buildings or call centres. Instead, it relies on its community of users to supply help and advice to each other.

Solving phone signal problems

As with all mobile phone networks, there are a number of reasons why you might get a dropped signal: network maintenance, a damaged tower, bad weather. Before you decide to ask the giffgaff community what the problem is, there are a couple of options open to you.

  • Check the service status – You should use the 'Help>check network coverage' area on the giffgaff website. Not only will this show you if the postcode you're interested in is covered by giffgaff, it will also show you the state of the network at that time. This includes both voice, data and text statuses
  • Are you in credit? – With giffgaff this isn't a problem unless you're overseas. Credit is required for standard pay-as-you-go deals – you can log into your account to check your credit situation and top up if necessary

Solving text and data problems

The most common problems with data and/or text problems usually boils down to a couple of issues:

No credit

Always make sure that you've got enough credit in your giffgaff account for the data you need if you have a pay-as-you-go deal. You can do this by logging in to your account online, or using the giffgaff app on your phone. If you don't have enough data credit, you can top up using the giffgaff app or via your account pages on the giffgaff website.

Network status

Giffgaff uses the O2 mobile phone network but it has its own network status checking page on its website. You can find this by clicking through to the Help menu and choosing 'Check network coverage'. If you are travelling, you can also use this to check that you will be able to get a giffgaff phone signal at your destination. It's a useful page to bookmark in your browser.

Phone settings

When it comes to data rather than calls or texts, there may be a problem with your settings and what's called your Access Point Name (APN) specifically. You will need to enter (or make sure you've entered correctly) the giffgaff-specific settings as follows:

  • Giffgaff iPhone settings – On an iPhone these are available in Settings > Mobile Data > Mobile Data > Mobile Data Network
  • Giffgaff Android phone settings – Mobile Networks/Networks > Mobile Network > APNs

You can find all the latest APN settings for your phone at the giffgaff help pages on the 'Data not working' page.

Using giffgaff abroad

Giffgaff uses the O2 network and therefore O2's international franchise partners. So actually getting a signal and setting up roaming is no more of an issue with giffgaff than it is on any other network. Giffgaff imposes a data limit of 5GB for customers using their phone abroad, and beyond that, you will have to pay 10p per MB used. There is a data spend cap of £45 per month while you are abroad so you can rest easy that you won’t be spending a fortune if you do go over your limit.

How to get help on giffgaff

Giffgaff relies on its users rather than trained staff to provide help. This means that over the years it has built up a database of information and created online help guides that deal with most of the common problems you might face. When new problems crop up, say with a new model of phone, or a change to giffgaff's coverage, then you can turn to the community forums on the giffgaff website for help.

Other giffgaff users can upvote or downvote tips, helpful comments and other additions to the forums. Upvoted items accrue Payback. Because Payback is only paid out twice a year, the voting balances out over time, and the more helpful a user is, the more likely they'll receive it. Payback can be taken in the form of data credit, cash or a charity donation.

This can often result in faster fixes to new issues, and also tried and tested resolutions to older problems being more readily available.

The next stage up from the community message boards and forums is to contact a giffgaff 'Agent'. This is someone with more than a passing knowledge of the systems and can help with more personal data issues such as problems with your bill or online account. You can contact an Agent by logging into your account on the giffgaff website.

Customer service phone number

Because giffgaff is a network that uses its community of users for the majority of its help activities, it does not publish a customer service phone number. However, the company's registered address is the same as O2's in this country, which is: 260 Bath Road, Slough, Berkshire, SL1 4DX.

Use social media to speed up response times

Because giffgaff is a community-inclusive operation it has quite a healthy social media presence with Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Youtube and LinkedIn accounts. In the unlikely event that you're not getting a fast response via giffgaff's community, help guides and knowledge base pages, or from a giffgaff Agent, you can try making your issue known on giffgaff’s social media accounts. Make sure to keep things courteous and constructive though.

Frequently asked questions

Does giffgaff have its own network?

No, giffgaff is what is known as a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO). As such it makes use of the O2 mobile network both at home and abroad.

Can I call giffgaff or help?

No you can't. Giffgaff prides itself on being community-run and on not having call centres. Instead you can use its online Knowledge Base, Help Guides, and its community forums. You can also escalate any problems to individual 'Agents', contactable via your online account.

As giffgaff is community-run, can I use it in Europe?

Yes indeed you can. Because giffgaff uses O2's actual network, you can still make and receive calls and texts when you're in Europe.

Can I use wifi calling with giffgaff

No. Unfortunately – and perhaps somewhat surprisingly – wifi calling isn't available from giffgaff. Although we would expect this to be something they'll be looking into in future.

What happens if I lose my phone? Who do I report it to?

This one is nice and simple. Visit the giffgaff website, log in to your account and you can report a lost phone right there.

What is giffgaff's typical response time for complaints?

Giffgaff states that its typical response time for complaints is five days. In terms of response time for queries and help, this can be as little as an hour.

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