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giffgaff Limited
FoundedSlough, England, UK (25 November 2009)
FounderGav Thompson[1]
HeadquartersUxbridge, England, UK[2]
Area served
United Kingdom
Key people
Ash Schofield (CEO)
ServicesMobile telephony
Revenue£449 million per annum[3]
OwnerTelefónica UK Ltd
ParentTelefónica UK Ltd

Giffgaff (stylised "giffgaff") is a lower cost mobile phone flanker brand of Telefónica UK (trading as O2 UK),[4][5][6] and was launched on 25 November 2009.[7]

Products and services[edit]

At launch, Giffgaff's first product was a prepaid SIM card providing all standard 2G and 3G mobile phone services and charging on a pay-as-you-go basis. Following this, Giffgaff announced bundles of minutes, texts, and data, called "goodybags". The idea for bundles emerged from the community forums.[8]

In June 2012, it was announced that customers could renew "goodybags" automatically via a PayPal account was saved on their platform payment profile.[9]

In 2011, Giffgaff added data-only tethering plans called "gigabags" to their lineup of product plans.[10] Giffgaff has since retired "gigabags", as their "goodybag" plans now allow members to tether to other devices within their data allowances without tethering restriction.[11]

In March 2014, Giffgaff announced that it would add a line of 4G LTE "goodybags" with purchase available starting April 2014.[12]

In May 2014, Giffgaff announced that they were now an official Apple carrier,[13] which was closely followed by another announcement that they would soon be stocking iPhones in their online shop – this would unlock options on iPhones that would have normally been locked for users, including tethering and voicemail options. iPhone devices went on sale starting 4 June 2014, to accompany a wide range of manufacturers including Samsung handsets. Refurbished devices have become a purchase option, with a Giffgaff 12-month warranty included. On 2 November 2020, Giffgaff announced that they are terminating their business relationship with RateSetter, the peer-to-peer lender.[14] Giffgaff's new phone loan initiative is with Klarna Bank AB, known as Klarna, a Swedish bank that provides financial services.

From 2020, all goodybags now include unlimited minutes and texts to standard UK numbers. Full speed data allowances range from 500MB to unlimited. The prices listed are between £6 - £35 per month and are reviewed periodically. In August 2020, the company launched its 9GB golden goodybag to compete directly with its own 6GB goodybag product, both priced at £10. In August 2021, the company launched a third £10 product, their "Student Golden Goodybag", debuting at 13GB of data later increasing to 15 GB.[15]

To be eligible to purchase from the selection of "golden goodybags", the member must register a bank payment method and agree to recurring monthly purchases. There is no ongoing commitment and the recur can be switched off or cancelled at will. On 20 October 2020, Giffgaff introduced their "unlimited golden goodybag" priced at £35 a month. At the same time, they announced future 5G access for customers on all golden goodybag products using their new 5G sim.[16] In January 2021, the goodybag range was expanded to give more data.[17] From 24 February 2021, using pay-as-you-go data without a "goodybag" doubled in price from 5p MB to 10p MB.[17]

Customer Service[edit]

Giffgaff does not operate customer service phone helplines. Non-account-specific problems are raised via an online community system and are answered by other Giffgaff members in exchange for "payback points" (a virtual currency). Account-specific queries are directed to "agents", who are contracted by giffgaff Limited through a hiring agency to administer account matters. If neither of these avenues resolves the issues, there is a dedicated complaint team, who responds to complaints by email and a dedicated voicemail only phone number. Written replies can take at least five working days to receive.[18]


Giffgaff predominantly uses remote workers as part-time moderators, called Educators, to monitor and patrol their community forum. They regularly remove, edit, or modify content which they perceive as going against their community guidelines.


Giffgaff offers payback points to members who recruit other members and who provide customer service to the Giffgaff community. Previously members who suggested ideas on their Giffgaff Labs platform (which closed in 2021) also received payback points.[19] Payback points can be exchanged for real money, added as airtime credit, or donated to five charities (this option was added in 2020) nominated by members and paid out biannually in June and December. Giffgaff promises to match their members' charitable donations, pound for pound. Giffgaff itself is an old Scottish word for 'mutual giving'[20] and the company states they attempt to maintain that ethos as much as possible.

Super Recruiters[edit]

When Giffgaff members recruit 15 new members to join the network, they are promoted to super recruiter status permanently, earning potentially larger rewards depending on their recruit's second and subsequent payments to Giffgaff and ongoing member retention. Super recruiters are also eligible to receive other benefits, such as dedicated email support, marketing materials, phone calls with employees, and visits to Giffgaff's HQ.[21]


Giffgaff is a wholly owned subsidiary of Telefónica UK Ltd, which trades under the brand name of O2 UK inside the United Kingdom.[22]

As part of the merger of Liberty Global and Telefónica's UK-based assets, Giffgaff's parent company, Telefónica UK, is now a 50-50 joint venture of these two companies, while Giffgaff remains wholly owned by Telefónica UK.

Network service and infrastructure[edit]


As of September 2015, all of Giffgaff's "goodybags"[23] come with 4G data included at no extra cost. If the user doesn't have a 4G ready device or is not in a 4G area, the device will connect to O2's 3G or 2G network instead.


Giffgaff implemented 5G on their "Golden Goodybag" range using their new 5G SIMs[16] on 7 January 2021.[24] Initially, only new 5G SIMs would work on the technology, but later access was extended to existing 4G SIM cards.[25]

Giffgaff's 5G, like all their network services, runs on O2's network. O2 rolled out their 5G network access to O2 customers in October 2019.[26]


In November 2010, Giffgaff won the Forrester Groundswell Award and was later nominated for the 'Marketing Society's Brand of the Year' award, losing to the department store John Lewis.[27] In December 2010, Giffgaff won the 'Most Innovative Community Award' at the Social CRM Customer Excellence Awards.[28][29]

In June 2012, Giffgaff was named the Best MVNO at the Mobile Industry Awards.[30]

In 2014[31] and 2015,[32] Giffgaff won the Which? best telecom services provider award. In 2018, Giffgaff was a runner-up in the Best Utilities Provider of the Year Awards.[33]

In 2019, Which? reviewed 13 mobile network's customers. Giffgaff was rated the best network by the sample surveyed.[34]

Since 2016, Giffgaff has won the uSwitch Network of the Year award for 5 consecutive years.[35][36][37][38][39] They also won three other uSwitch awards in 2019 for Best SIM Only Network, Best Network for Data, and Best PAYG Network.[40]


Unlimited internet[edit]

After "goodybags" with unlimited internet allowance were introduced, complaints were made to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) from customers who were refused the further sale of unlimited plans. The reason given by Giffgaff for their disconnection was a clause in the terms and conditions stating "[We may disconnect you] if you do anything ... which we reasonably think adversely impacts the service to other Giffgaff customers or may adversely affect the Network". The complaint was not upheld by the ASA who concluded that unlimited internet was advertised correctly. Giffgaff noted that their customer service agents had used the clause above incorrectly and promised to rectify this.[41]

Giffgaff removed the "goodybags" in question and replaced their unlimited internet allowance with an "Always On" data allowance. This means that users will get 80 GB of full-speed data usage but after these 80 GB, will be speed-limited to 385 kbps between 8 am and midnight every day.[42] However on 20 October 2020, the company reintroduced a version of their unlimited monthly (Golden) Goodybag to recurring customers only, priced at £35.[16]

Advertising campaigns[edit]

In May 2013, Giffgaff ran an online and television advertising campaign with the strapline "Don't be scared", which featured zombies converging on a village. Although the television advert appeared after the 9 pm watershed, the ASA received 105 complaints. The ASA did not uphold the complaints, stating that it was not in breach of any BCAP rules.[43]

In October 2013, Giffgaff ran two adverts in an online campaign with the strapline "Different takes guts". The advert featured a crowd of people dressed in white in an empty swimming pool throwing guts at each other. The ASA upheld the complaints that the content was in violation of BCAP rules for harm and offence, and also BCAP rule 5.2 because the advert was not suitably age rated. It was recommended that the advert not appear again in its current form.[44]

In August 2014, Giffgaff ran three adverts in an online campaign with the strapline "At home with your parents you're not the boss" which featured siblings being subjected to awkward situations with their parents, one of which was reported to the ASA and featured an adult son walking in on his parents as they were engaged in sexual intercourse. The ASA upheld the complaint that the content was in violation of BCAP rule 4.1 for harm and offense and recommended that the advert not appear again in its current form.[45]


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External links[edit]