giffgaffgate – A Major Fail by giffgaff

I wrote a post recently about my new approach to mobile phones, and I thought it was only fair to share my experiences so far in that endeavour.

My plan was to move to giffgaff and start buying phones separately. It could not have started out worse!

I had already bought, activated and put a goodybag onto my giffgaff sim, so I was all ready to go. I messed up by adding a 30 day goodybag to the giffgaff sim before giving notice on my Orange contract, so I was going to double up for 30 days, but that’s not the end of the world and it was my stupid mistake.

The only thing remaining was transferring my number from Orange (and therefore ending my contact) and onto giffgaff. I had originally intended to do that right at the start of the month when I applied my goodybag, but after realising that I would have both contracts for the month, I did it sometime in the middle.

So, Sunday the 12th I went to the giffgaff website to start the process. There was an error message at the top of the homepage saying that the site is being ‘updated’ so some services like ‘login’ were not working. #fail

I managed to log in later on that day and booked my transfer for the following day – Monday the 13th. Their page says quite clearly that if you book your transfer on a weekday before 4pm, the earliest you can book it is the following day. After 4pm and you have to wait an extra 24 hours. However, if you book it at any time over the weekend, you can get it on a Monday. My request was confirmed on Monday and scheduled for Tuesday. #fail

Tuesday comes and I’m to watch my Orange sim. Once it fails (loses reception or says sim card error or similar) then I’m to take it out of my phone, pop in my giffgaff sim and wait for it to register. Restarting the phone a couple of times may help it search for a signal.

I did all that, my phone lost Orange signal around 12:30, except it never registered with a giffgaff signal afterwards, it just kept saying ‘Emergency Calls Only’. #fail

Their site says it can happen any time until 18:00 in the evening. By 17:30 I started to think that it was unlikely to happen, so I created a support ticket asking someone to look into it.

I got a response within a couple of hours saying ‘give it until 9pm’. When I got home at 23:30, I updated the ticket again stating it still hadn’t gone through.

I then expected this to be flagged with high importance and someone to resolve the situation as soon as possible. I mean, I’d been 12 hours without a phone and it wasn’t looking like good service.

Instead, with no response from my message the night before, I chased it up the next day and got a response a couple of hours later saying ‘we’ll look into it and get back to you in 3-5 working days’. Yes, 3-5 working days! #majorfail

I was astonished. I had 2 working sim cards the day before on 2 phone numbers, now the number I’d had for 5+ years was ‘dead’, neither of my sim cards had worked for over 24 hours and they were fobbing me off!

I posted this on the community forum as I noticed that the response time there is much faster. Sure enough, I got a number of responses within minutes, telling me to talk to an ‘educator’ to help resolve the issue. Great, I was being directed to someone that could help.

Unfortunately, the educator told me sit and wait for the agent to get back to me. #fail

It was also fairly apparent to me, that a significant number of other people on the forum were reporting the same or similar issues. This is not a one-off incident, this is a serious problem at giffgaff.

I would estimate that since last Sunday, 60-80% of the times I’ve accessed the giffgaff website, the message saying they’re ‘updating the site’ has been on the homepage (including right now). Some of those times I’ve been able to log in, some others, I’ve not. The times when I have been able to log in, it’s been hit or miss whether I’ve had full access to my account. For example, the support ticket regarding my failed number transfer is no longer showing on my account! #fail

The general feeling I felt from the forum is that they’re expanding their number of users significantly, but not expanding their ability to deal with them.

For me, it’s made me realise how important my mobile service is, and how important my number is. It’s now nearly 96 hours since my number went dead, and I’m not sure if I’m going to get it back.

There is also no way I’m going to stay with giffgaff. Their complete inability to provide a decent service has meant I need to look for alternatives.

At the moment I’m trying out 3 and must admit that their service is what I expected giffgaff’s to be and offering is on par with giffgaff’s in terms of price, although so far the signal hasn’t been great.

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