Sainsbury’s has finally joined the UK’s other major supermarkets in offering a mobile provider service. It had to happen eventually. We’d been expecting it would be just round the corner every year but it never was. Until now. Bowing to the inevitable, and just a tad tardy, Sainsbury’s has joined the party. Introducing … Mobile By Sainsbury’s.
Tesco Mobile was the big pioneer starting out way back in 2003. And after that, ASDA Mobile was launched in April 2007 and revolutionised the virtual network market with industry leading rates. In fact, they were the first truly budget mobile network as previously even virtual mobile networks were barely much cheaper than standard high street PAYG tariff offerings. And now, just ten years behind Tesco and with a bit of a mouthful for a brand name, Sainsbury’s has stuck its oar in.
The rates are pretty competitive especially compared to Tesco Mobile and ASDA Mobile. The basic PAYG plan is just 8p/minute for calls and 4p each for texts. Unfortunately data is pretty expensive unless you are a very low user coming in at 50p per day up to a maximum of just 25MB. If you need to check your emails every weekday, it will set you back about a tenner a month just on data. And that won’t even give you enough allowance to download apps and music or stream video.
However, there are some 30-day rolling bundles on offer. Just like SIM-only contracts or bundles offered by other virtual networks, these give you an allowance and can be changed every 30 days. They all come with unlimited texts (subject to a fair use policy) and the cheapest is £10 and provides 200 minutes as well as 250MB of mobile data. If you spend £15 you’ll get 300 minutes as well as 500MB data. And finally, £20 will get you a more hefty 800 minutes as well as 1GB of internet usage.
While these are decent value, you can certainly get much better deals if you’re willing to look elsewhere. So what else has Sainsbury’s got up its sleeve to persuade you to switch over?
It seems that the service is aimed people in their 30s and 40s, particularly mums and families who need to keep in touch with their kids but maybe don’t have enough time to be glued to internet apps and games on their phones. If you just need to make infrequent calls and texts, it’s good value. And even better, there are lots of Nectar points bonuses available for Mobile By Sainsbury’s users.
First of all, all top-ups quality for double Nectar points effectively meaning you get 2% back every time you add credit to your phone. And if you are using one of the 30-day bundles, you also get double Nectar points on Sainsbury’s shopping and fuel station purchases. While this certainly won’t make you rich, many people will definitely appreciate the extra pennies at the end of each month. Be aware, Mobile By Sainsbury’s customers have to opt-in to this scheme and link their Nectar card number by texting it to 40774.
Sainsbury’s previously only used to offer basic mobile accessories like USB cables but they’ve now started cross-marketing into mobile handsets too. They are mainly targeting the aforementioned mums here as well with budget phones ranging from just over a tenner up to a bit more than £100. Unfortunately the prices aren’t so good that it’s worth buying a locked handset and you can get much better deals buying SIM-free phones online. For example, not only is the Nokia Lumia 520 cheaper on Amazon but it also comes unlocked to any network and with free delivery.
It’s still early days but it’s a little concerning that the Mobile By Sainsbury’s website seems a little under construction still even though it’s fully launched. For example, take a look at the FAQ page – many answers are simply incomplete and just plain useless at present. Hopefully this will get sorted soon.
Mobile By Sainsbury’s have chosen to use Vodafone as their partner network. This is the same choice as ASDA Mobile made so coverage should be exactly the same on both providers. They also offer BlackBerry plans for an additional subscription of £5 every 30 days. Stay tuned for our full review coming soon…
What do you make of this move by Sainsbury’s? Why do you think it took them so long to launch their own network? Are they plans cheap enough to persuade you to change over? And will they be as successful as Tesco and ASDA?