06 November 2015 ~ 0 Comments

Sainsbury’s suddenly axes network

sainsbury mobile closing copy

It has emerged that Mobile by Sainsbury’s currently has a shelf-life of fewer than three months. The supermarket juggernaut has quietly been banishing marketing materials from all of its 1000+ stores in preparation for the shocking shutdown. Current customers have only until 15th January next year to use up their existing credit and choose a new operator to port their number to.

According to an insider source, the reason for the sudden closure is a break-down in negotiations with their infrastructure provider, Vodafone. The network was always a joint-venture between the two companies and without any agreement between them, there is little option but to stop providing a service. At the moment it’s unclear whether Sainsbury’s approached any other providers to step in place of Vodafone to keep the network live. We’ve also not received comment on how financially successful it has been for Sainsbury’s as it might be assumed that they have been looking for a graceful exit strategy.

While there has been little warning to their customers, industry experts say that it’s not a surprising outcome. Vodafone have been reportedly looking to completely withdraw from providing services to piggybacking MVNOs such as Sainsbury’s and Talkmobile.

Sainsbury’s is the second biggest supermarket brand in the country and two of its arch-rivals, ASDA and Tesco are still running their virtual networks running on other carriers. It has to be said, that their offerings have seemed to be much more successful too. While Sainsbury’s will no longer be marketing their network in stores, several of their retail outlets will still be selling mobile phones and accessories.

If you’re an existing customer of the network, you should start thinking about changing to a new network, requesting a PAC and porting your phone number over. No services at all will be available from 15 January 2016.

Did you see this coming? Are you a Mobile by Sainsbury’s customer and if so, what’s your reaction? Do you think Sainsbury’s are acting fairly? And how many of you expecting this coming? Should Sainsbury’s have done anything differently after negotiations with Vodafone broke down?

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26 September 2013 ~ 0 Comments

Best Posts: Summer Round-Up

august calendarIt’s hard (and sad) to believe it, but summer is already over. It was a busy belter for sure, and we got some great weather but the days are already getting longer and the kids are already back at school. Before you know it, the shops will be playing carols and you’ll be thinking about making the first batch of mulled wine of the year. But before that happens, let’s take a while to look back at the best mobile stories from the summer.

We’ve had some great headlines over the last couple of months. Not least the various leaks about Apple’s new iPhone 5S. While we are fairly certain about the name, very little else is known for sure until secretive Apple makes an official announcement. There are strong hints there will finally be a 128GB version as well as a new gold-coloured option though. Stay tuned as we’re expected to hear much more tomorrow.

There were also lots of juicy rumours about new Android phones and tablets such as the Motorola Moto X, the Nexus 7, Nexus 10 and and the stunning Samsung Galaxy Note III with its massive screen. Full official details are due any day now. But one of the most intriguing things about having a large screen is the possibility for gargantuan 4K screens at an unbelievable 640 ppi resolution as they are now supported in the latest version of Android Jelly Bean 4.3. Android as a digital ecosystem is also doing incredibly well as it has been reported that their sales account for almost 80% of all smartphones these days.

In other news, we saw the launch of the first phone running the shiny new Firefox OS as well as plenty of new devices running Windows Phone OS. BlackBerry is still on the decline, however.

But what else has been happening? Here’s a round-up of the five very best articles and news stories from the Mobile Network Comparison blog.

Sainsbury’s and ethical business

justin kingAt the beginning of the month, we reported on a new virtual mobile network being launched by Sainsbury’s. However, after a while, it became clear that there was more to it than it first seemed. The choice of CEO Justin King to use Vodafone as their network provider deserves some scrutiny as he’d repeatedly made statements saying that businesses should pay a fair amount of tax back to the state and not try to avoid their ethical responsibilities.

However, Vodafone are well known in the UK for their complicated arrangements for evading tax payments. Despite taking in over £40 billion in revenue and paying out billions to shareholders, Vodafone didn’t pay any tax at all last year. Check out our full story for details of their tax records and the issues with Justin King going into business with them despite his strong claims about the rights and wrongs of businesses’ tax affairs.

Revealed – the great mobile tax con

mobile-taxContinuing our reporting into UK networks’ tax avoidance, we wrote a detailed article covering exactly how much mobile operators are paying in tax. This article revealed shocking facts such as the fact that foreign-owned EE has 25 million UK customers but spends almost 150% on paying shareholders than the total 2013 budget for all NHS A&E departments in the country.

For more details on how much money mobile companies are making, how much they are paying their executives and how much tax they are contributing and paying back to society, you can’t miss this post.

Lenovo A789 review

a789-3This summer we also published our first ever mobile handset review. The Lenovo A789 is typical of a Chinese phone that’s not available directly on the UK market – much cheaper than the norm but packing an impressive specs list and a unique feature set including great ideas such as dual-SIM capability and a built-in FM transmitter.

We got our hands on one and played around with it for hours and hours to work out its best pros and cons. Our full review includes a detailed critique of the hardware, specs, design and operating system of this great value phone.

iPhone 5S to have fingerprint scanner

fingerprintThis post looked at one of the most interesting leaked features of the new iPhone 5C – a fingerprint scanner built into the touchscreen. We looked into industry claims that using fingerprint scanners on phones will change the way we use technology forever. Our analysis not only went into detail about the likelihood of this being confirmed for the new iPhone but also unravel some misconceptions and truths about privacy and security on iOS.

PAYG showdown: 321 vs Giffgaff

321 tariffFinally, we wrote a massive 1,100 word post on Three Mobile’s groundbreaking new 321 tariff. This new deal slashes prices and offers what seems to be the UK’s best value PAYG price-plan with calls just 3p, texts coming in a 2p each and mobile data costing a cheap-as-chips 1p/MB.

But is it really the best value option for you? This detailed price comparison post does what we do best and really delves into real world costs to see if there are any better ways to save money on your mobile. If you want the actual cheapest deal available, don’t miss this read.

We hoped you liked our look back at the summer’s mobile stories and went back to have a look at our best articles. Let us know your favourites and if you think there’s anything we missed out in the comments below 🙂

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08 August 2013 ~ 0 Comments

Sainsbury’s and ethical business

justin king

Justin King, the outspoken boss of British supermarket chain Sainsbury’s has come under fire after launching his new mobile network in partnership with Vodafone.

Only a few days ago, we reported on the new mobile network being launched under the brand Mobile By Sainsbury’s. Justin King, who is the chief executive of the supermarket, has consistently challenged business leaders regarding their aggressive tax arrangements and has even gone as far to say that the issue is simply one of morality.

At the British Retail Consortium symposium just a few weeks previously, he made a speech asserting that businesses should stand behind their tax arrangements and that they have an ethical obligation to pay a fair amount back to the state. Mr King he even warned other businesses that they might face consumer boycotts if they can continue to use tax avoidance schemes.

Some quotations from Justin King include the following:

By the last count we were the 12th biggest taxpayer in the UK and we are proud of our taxpaying record.

If companies believe what they do is moral, they should be very happy to lay bare what they are doing, and open it to consumer scrutiny, and we are quite happy to do that, not just on the issue of tax.

However, recently his words have been called into question and accusations of hypocrisy have been flying in from left, right and centre. The principal reason for this is that Vodafone have long been lambasted for their aggressive tax avoidance measures.

Tax campaigners have pointed out the contradiction between his claims about tax being a moral issue and his business relationship with Vodafone which is a company well known to be a prolific tax avoider. Despite taking in over £40 billion in revenue, Vodafone haven’t paid any tax at all in the last financial year. Nor did they pay any the year before that.

Meanwhile, the Vodafone CEO has a paycheque of over £10 million and shareholders received almost £5 billion in dividends over the last 12 months. Vodafone were publicly accused in Parliament of paying just over a sixth of the tax bill owed to HMRC.

The whole time Vodafone have been vigorously defending their tax records and in fact published a lengthy document making it clear that they would only go as far as necessary to just meet their legal requirements and certainly would not consider issue of morality regarding their tax avoidance schemes.

It’s hard to see how Sainsbury’s can justify this business relationship even if the other mobile networks may be just as bad as Vodafone. Tax avoidance campaigners have called on Sainsbury’s to reconsider this partnership in light of what is known about Vodafone’s tax arrangements. And it will certainly be a significant blemish to Sainsbury’s reputation as a company that pays more tax than other organisations with a similar amount of profit.

This news comes only a few weeks after the revelation that Sainsbury’s has several overseas subsidiaries including ones based well-known tax havens such as Jersey, Guernsey, the Isle of Man and the Cayman Islands. The Fair Tax Mark – a civil society campaign concerned with promoting transparency and fairness in the tax affairs of companies – also showed that they had a shortfall in the amount of tax actually paid.

In response, Justin King has defended the Vodafone deal by describing Vodafone as a “first-class” operator and the “perfect” choice for his supermarket. However he’s refused to be drawn into a direct comment on Vodafone’s tax affairs or whether the moral obligation to businesses and their tax liabilities extend to other organisations they have business partnerships with.

What is your take on Mobile By Sainsbury’s working with Vodafone? Are they being hypocritical with this business relationship? Or has Justin King got a lot to answer for by dealing with these tax avoiders?

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