|Founded||25 November 2009
(4 years ago)
|Headquarters||Uxbridge, Greater London, United Kingdom|
|Area served||United Kingdom|
|Key people||Mike Fairman (CEO)
Richard Apletree (CFO)
|Products||Mobile telecommunications products and services|
|Parent||Telefónica UK Ltd.|
The difference between conventional mobile telephone operators and giffgaff is simple, the customers, called giffgaff members, help with company operation, including:
In return for these services the members receive remuneration through a system called "Payback".
Gav Thompson was educated at University of Cambridge, Wellington College and Windlesham House and is the founder at giffgaff. He is currently Director of Marketing Innovation, O2 / Telefónica Europe at Telefónica UK, also Head of Brand Innovation (Telefónica Digital UK) at Telefónica Digital. Reports say Mr Thompson came up with the idea after studying Web 2.0 businesses in San Francisco in 2008.
Inspired by the way platforms like Wikipedia and Facebook were enabling a new, non-institutional way of doing things, Gav Thompson imagined a mobile network run on the principle of mutuality: one that rewarded its community of customers for doing much of the work normally done by employees. He could see a gap in the market for people who liked to get involved in different ways of doing things. The principles behind the company formation are set out within the giffgaff manifesto.
The slogan for giffgaff, " The Mobile Network run by You ", is intended to reflect the fact that many users of this service help to run the many aspects of giffgaff operation.
Within 2010, their first year of operation, giffgaff were fortunate to win two industry awards, the Forrester Groundswell Award in November, also the Most Innovative Community Award at the Social CRM Customer Excellence Awards. In November giffgaff were nominated as one of the five finalists for the Marketing Society's Brand of the Year but lost to the department store John Lewis.
On 16 March 2012 a fractured water pipe caused a major service outage within a third party data centre that provides billing services. Subscribers to giffgaff lost services such as, ability to send and receive calls, text (SMS) messages and data.
Products and services
The core product is the SIM card that supports all standard 2G and 3G services. With the introduction of 4G in March 2014 giffgaff users may need to replace their SIM in order to be able to use this service. More recent SIM's are already 4G ready.
A SIM card can be obtained in two ways.
- Ordered directly from the website.
- From another member, the "Member Get Member" scheme.
SIM cards ordered by existing giffgaff members receive 500 "Payback Points" (also see Payback section below) if the recipient of their distributed SIM registers and tops up a minimum of £10.00. This new giffgaff member will receive £5.00 of free credit.
A NanoSIM is also available for the iPhone 5, iPad Mini.
In November 2013 giffgaff will start selling a range of mobile phone handsets for the very first time. 
Initially a range of 22 devices is available from seven manufacturers. Devices can be paid for outright or through finance.
The main method of customer service relies upon members of the giffgaff network providing answers within a forum called the "Community". Members having problems, uncertainty, or anything for that matter, post into the community for help. Those who provide help within this "Community" are rewarded with "Payback".
There is a small customer service team who are employed by giffgaff. This team provides further support that giffgaff members are unable to resolve and may include:
- Account problems
- Credit Card issues
- Barring (usually due to tethering outside terms and conditions)
New product ideas are initially tested at giffgaff labs and are made available to all members for a short period. If a new product idea proves to be popular it may be incorporated into the main product, otherwise is withdrawn. The labs' products are Beta Tested by selected community members before release. Most new ideas come from the 'Ideas Board' within the Community.
The first product from giffgaff labs, introduced in September 2010, included calls for 2p and texts for 1p in return for a monthly payment of £5.00. The product was withdrawn after a trial period.
The second labs product, introduced in December 2010, was nicknamed "Hokey Cokey". For £5.00 customers were allocated 60 minutes talk time, 300 texts (SMS) and a free extra minute for every eligible incoming minute. In June 2011 "Hokey Cokey" became an official product.
BlackBerry services were tested at giffgaff labs prior to launch in February 2012.
In July 2010, two iPhone apps and a Nokia app, were released to help users manage their account and gain access the Community. A notable part of these announcements is that these applications were produced by members of the community, rather than giffgaff itself. Members are allowed to develop their own applications (apps) for both Android and Windows telephones, there is yet no official app for these platforms.
In May 2012, giffgaff accepted a community generated idea to create an official app that would provide users with an alternative way to top-up and buy goodybags. This was released in October 2012 for the iPhone only.
In October 2012 an App for the iPhone was released that was developed by a giffgaff community member. This member later became an employee of giffgaff. This App (application) is now the official version.
giffgaff allows members to earn points in different ways:
- When a giffgaff member passes a SIM to a friend (or anyone) the existing member receives 500 'Payback Points' when the SIM is activated. The friend will receive £5.00 free credit when they top with a minimum amount of £10.00.
- By contributing to the giffgaff community within the forums a monthly points allocation is awarded in proportion to the effort spent.
- Occasional schemes allow members to earn points in return for marketing promotions.
One Point = One Penny
The first payback was made on 15 June 2010.
In December 2012 giffgaff paid out over £1.8 million to their customers, this was their biggest payback yet, including £15,600 to the Air Ambulance Service and £15,600 to Teen Cancer Research.
In June 2013, giffgaff paid out nearly £2 million to customers, £12,200 to Great Ormond Street Hospital and £12,200 to Water Aid.
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- First giffgaff app in the Nokia Ovi Store (30 July 2010). "Launch of app in Nokia Ovi store". Community.giffgaff.com. Retrieved 2010-12-23.
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- "giffgaff tool hire". Tools.giffgaff.com. Retrieved 2013-09-20.
- giffgaff blog (21 December 2012). "Biggest Ever Payback- Over £2.9M paid out". Community.giffgaff.com. Retrieved 2012-12-21.
- "Happy Payback Day: £31k goes to charity". Giffgaff. 2012-12-13. Retrieved 2013-08-01.
- "Paying back nearly £2million to our members - The giffgaff community". Community.giffgaff.com. 2013-06-14. Retrieved 2013-09-20.