05 August 2013 ~ 4 Comments

Sainsbury’s joins the mobile party


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.

sainsbury's faq incomplete

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?

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12 July 2013 ~ 3 Comments

Greedy Vodafone hike PAYG prices


Vodafone have demonstrated the contempt they feel for their users by massively increasing their call prices on PAYG and couching the rise in terms of making things “easier” for their customers. They have decided to round all outgoing call costs to the nearest minute and instead of rounding to the nearest minute or saving customers a few pence by rounding down, they have arrogantly made the decision to always round up so they get more revenue.

As a result, there are no possible scenarios where customers will pay less than they currently do. Yes, Vodafone have publicised the price gouging in terms like “pricing just got simpler” and “no more complicated pricing”. Excuse us if we explain why we think they’re taking the piss just a little…

Not only does this demonstrate unprecedented greed, but it also belies an utter lack of respect for their customers. Effectively, Vodafone are saying that their customers are too stupid to work out how much they are spending on their calls or how much their credit is worth. As one user put it:

So, I’m too thick to work in seconds as well as minutes, and Vodafone are therefore making life easier for me. To reward themselves for being so helpful, they are, in effect, going to charge me more for my calls.

In any case, this is beside the point as we have been unable to find a single Vodafone customer requesting this change. There is nothing on their user forums to suggest that anyone found by-the-second billing to be overly complex. Most networks charge in this manner and customers are used to it. Furthermore, there nothing to suggest that people judge their remaining PAYG airtime credit in terms of “minutes remaining” rather than the more straightforward figure of pounds and pence. Indeed, this is how the credit is represented to customers implying this is the way in which it ought to be considered.

It’s purely disingenuous behaviour on Vodafone’s part as they attempt to dress up a price rise as a customer-friendly service. As if people are stupid enough to fall for that. Utterly pathetic.

All this from a company that reported an operating profit of £12 billion just a couple of months ago at the end of March 2013. Apparently that’s not enough and now they want to resort to tricks like this to scrape off more cash from their millions of customers. Nothing escaped the price rise – even voicemail calls are subject to these new terms unilaterally introduced by Vodafone.

As a result, if you regularly make several short calls – perhaps to ask to be picked up, to be let in or to arrange somewhere to meet – you’re existing credit has been massively devalued. Call costs are in some cases going to rise by over 90% and current airtime credit will be worth around 50% less for several customers.

On customer forums, the price increase has been met with outrage and ire. In response to the claim from the Vodafone Tech Team that the change was made in order to make things “simpler”, Funboy responded:

Please don’t patronise us. This is being introduced to make more money for Vodafone pure and simple. It doesn’t make anything simpler other than the fact that PAYG customers will essentially pay more for calls.

Gronk991 went on to say:

Simpler? Maybe slightly. More expensive? Potentially much more. Communicated in a reasonable manner? Certainly not.

I am sorry but this is a joke, it is price hike and nothing else and you are treating us as idiots in trying to call it anything other than that.

These changes are the latest in a line of price hikes from Vodafone. Only back in September 2011 Vodafone announced that they would “simplify” contract bills by rounding up – again, note they decided not to round down – to the nearest £0.50. This equates to a potential rise of £5.88 a year and on average across about 9.5 million customers, meant that Vodafone benefited to the tune of about £28 million!

These latest price increases clearly reveal Vodafone as an out of touch company intent on pressing the self-destruct button. This is a cynical profiteering stunt and may well turn out to be marketing suicide. Only recently they were found to be still dodging tax payments in the UK. And this was following their last PAYG price rise in 2011 as well as their shameful support for ousted dictator Hussain Mubarak during the Arab Spring popular uprisings.

They evidently fail to realise that switching network is simpler than ever nowadays and people will vote with their wallets. Furthermore, by disrespecting the small PAYG users in this way, they will inevitably lose their big money-spinners such as massive corporate contracts too. Nobody likes to be taken for a fool.

Are you on Vodafone? Have you been affected by these changes? What do you make of them? And if you’re switching, who’s going to be your new mobile phone network?

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15 October 2011 ~ 0 Comments

Want a free gold phone number?

If so you’re in luck! Don’t waste £100s buying phone numbers on eBay – choose a personal and easy-to-remember mobile number yourself for free today. We’ve written up a guide spelling out all the exact steps to get a Gold Number absolutely free.

By taking advantage of an offer from Family Mobile (one of our favourite virtual networks), you can get a memorable Gold Number completely free. You can even search for the particular combination of digits you want. We describe what Gold Numbers are, how to get them without paying a penny and also show that you don’t even need to keep it with Family Mobile. We just posted in-depth guides explaining how to port your new Gold Number to other networks so you can use it with your favourite budget carrier.

Check out our free Gold Number article for more and let us know if you find any really rare phone numbers for free.

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