Giffgaff To Offer Handsets To Customers

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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Giffgaff changes its mind and says it will offer members mobile phones as well as SIM cards

Community-run Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) Giffgaff has announced plans to stock handsets in the near future, having previously resisted calls to do so.

Until now, Giffgaff has only offered standard pay-as-you-go (PAYG) and contract SIM cards to members, rejecting requests to offer mobile phones as incompatible with its ethos.

Launched in 2009, Giffgaff rewards members for running parts of its business such as answering questions in the community, recruiting new members or promoting the service, which operates on O2’s network. In return, it keeps costs down and passes on the savings to its customers.

Gifgaff handset sales

giffgaffIt questioned the profitability of selling SIM-free handsets which are often sold for either the same or less than cost price, while it “never felt right” about tying customers down to expensive pay monthly contracts in exchange for an attractive hardware price.

However, requests for handsets have become more frequent and Giffgaff says it has been forced to reconsider its stance because it discovered that members were leaving the network not because they were dissatisfied with the service, but because they needed a new handset.

Giffgaff says the only option it had was to find a way to offer mobile phones to customers but without using traditional contracts or costly SIM-free device sales. It says the task is a huge undertaking and it has spent the last few months talking to logistic suppliers, handset vendors and finance specialists to determine the feasibility of such a project.

It plans to consult with members before the handset packages launch. The first such discussion is already open, with the operator opening a forum thread inviting members to share their opinions on handsets.

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