The People’s Operator (or TPO Mobile, if you prefer) has garnered some positive attention in the mobile world, thanks to its very charitable way of doing things. When the company launched, it had the noble aim of being an ethically sound mobile network operator.
TPO said that it wanted to give customers the chance to support worthy causes, ethical groups, charities and non-profit organisations of their choosing, as well as receiving correspondence on how their money was being spent.
Basically, 10% of your bill goes to a cause of your choice, and the company is committed to sharing a percentage of its profits through its TPO Foundation, which raises money for good causes.
Jimmy Wales, the co-founder of Wikipedia, is a non-executive director of the company, and it has now expanded from the UK market into Europe and North America.
One of the drawbacks of TPO Mobile is the lack of handset plans, as all the deals are SIM-only, with the exception of the ethical Fairphone 2, so if you are looking for a new iPhone or Samsung deal, this isn’t going to be for you.
That said, if you're after a SIM-only deal, The People’s Operator does have a range of affordable pay-as-you-go plans and one-month rolling contracts. If you’re opting for a TPO PAYG deal, the rates are competitive, and you get your SIM card for free. There are a number of bundles to choose from, and of course, 10% of your bill will go to charity.
As for the monthly deals, if you’re looking for a no-strings contract that doesn’t tie you in to a long-term commitment, the TPO 4G SIM-only plans roll for 30 days. There are add-ons too, which means if you run out of data, you can purchase some extra megabytes for a reasonable price. Again, the main draw here is that a percentage of your bill goes to charitable causes.
When it comes to value for money, The People’s Operator is pretty competitive, so you won’t be getting stung for wanting to help your noble cause of choice.
As previously stated, the only option for a handset with The People's Operator is to buy the ethical Fairphone 2 at full price (currently £499 at the time of writing) so this is not going to be any good for someone who wants a contract where they can upgrade to a new model every year or so.
If you’re happy to buy your own handset, then it's worth considering The People’s Operator if you like the idea of at least some of your money going towards worthy causes – as opposed to going solely into a company’s coffers.
Quantifying how good or bad a company’s customer service is can be tricky – the businesses won’t tell you outright, and you have to wait for some kind of crisis which makes the national newspapers to find out what has been going on. Even then, that might not be a true reflection of the normal experiences of the typical customer. That all said, The People’s Operator has been pretty free of controversy, and for the most part, those who use the company seem rather satisfied with how things have been going.
One thing TPO say is that they provide comprehensive answers in their online help section, in a bid to let their customer care team run more efficiently and deal with more pressing problems for those who need it. The company claims this helps to keep costs down, which would imply that their customer support team could be on the small side.
For reviews from those who have actually used TPO, then you’ll have to look at Trustpilot reviews of TPO, where overall, the provider has an ‘average’ rating. However, it's worth remembering that people are quick to write negative reviews, and less proactive when they’re happy. This is true of any service, as customers don’t tend to broadcast their feelings when they get what they expect, but will tell everyone they know if they want to vent about some bad service or another issue. While an ‘average’ rating may not initially inspire confidence, if you check TrustPilot for reviews of bigger mobile providers, you’ll see it is actually a pretty strong score.
You can run your mobile reasonably cheaply with The People’s Operator. The tariffs are in line with most of the competition, and of course, if you have a pay-as-you-go deal with TPO, then if you’re unhappy, you can just ditch them whenever you like.
One thing you need to keep in mind is the lack of phone deal. If you are not the kind of person who has a few hundred quid lying around when it comes to buying a new handset, then TPO isn’t a great option. While other companies can help you spread the cost of a new phone in your monthly contract, The People’s Operator doesn’t offer this option.
In the UK, TPO rides on the back of Three's network, which claims to cover 97% of the country. The People’s Operator has a slightly lower figure than Three, claiming it covers 91% of the country.
Of course, all mobile signals can hit bumps in the road, so should you live somewhere that’s incredibly hilly, or live in an old house with thick walls, you might encounter problems when it comes to your mobile signal – but this is true of every mobile provider, but it is still something you’ll want to keep an eye on. If you know someone who is a customer of TPO, or Three, ask them what their signal is like.
The biggest reason to give your custom to TPO is because you’d like the money you spend to go to a charity. The service and tariffs offered by the company doesn’t leap out as being anything out of the ordinary compared to other mobile providers.
The lack of handset offerings will put many off, espcially if you like to upgrade your phone regularly. If you're not bothered by that, and you'd like to do your bit for charity, then The People's Operator is worth a look.
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