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I miss giffgaff


Posts: 26
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Topic starter
(@christiaan)
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Joined: 1 year ago

What mobile phone companies do you guys use in Portugal? I went with Vodafone when I moved here but they've turned out to be robbers. 

It’s been 5 months since they took €45 from my UK Mastercard (not MB Way) and didn’t credit it to my phone account because of a glitch. After providing them with every single detail my UK bank could provide on the transactions they kept telling me to wait while they “analyse” the situation and now they’ve stopped responding to my messages.

They also keep taking €2 from my account to give me an extra 100 MB when my monthly tariff runs out and I can’t find how to turn this option off!

<sigh> It's a bit hard to swallow having come from what is probably the best mobile company in the world (giffgaff).

Are there any MVNOs in Portugal providing even half the service Giffgaff provides?

8 Replies




Posts: 26
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Topic starter
(@christiaan)
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Joined: 1 year ago

I just found this:

www.telecomtv.com/content/spectrum/portugal-saves-spectrum-for-newcomer-in-5g-sale-and-theres-one-obvious-candidate-37651/

telecoms.com/508233/masmovil-wins-portugal-newcomer-spectrum/

So I'm thinking, great, I'm moving to Nowo (a Masmovil MVNO)...

But then I just came across this rumour about a merger between Vodafone and Masmovil, which would put competition in Portugal back to square one 🙄 

www.commsupdate.com/articles/2021/02/05/masmovil-vodafone-tie-up-to-include-portugal-and-spain-report-says/

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Posts: 26
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Topic starter
(@christiaan)
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Joined: 1 year ago

More here:

www.commsupdate.com/articles/2021/03/23/altice-asks-anacom-to-suspend-5g-auction-until-vodafone-masmovil-merger-rumours-investigated/

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Posts: 390
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(@thomasribatejo)
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Joined: 4 years ago

Christiaan, sorry to hear about the issues you've been having.  It won't help at all to know, but I had dreadful service on all levels from GiffGaff in the UK; and have been almost unable to fault Vodafone here in Portugal... so these things can be somewhat random.

However, pretty much all mobile stuff here is geared to a less flexible model - either contracts, or PAYG which tends to require a bit more input than you can get away with in the UK.  NOWO is the only independent MVNO here, in that the others are subsidiaries of the main three operators, with relatively little separation in meaningful terms.  They don't just use their networks, they're the same business.  UZO pretends not to be - but this is just for form, it's integrated with MEO.  Other players have briefly popped up, but this is a small market.

I can find no updates re the MásMóvil Vodafone merger itself (rather than reaction to rumours) since early March.  It seems driven by a Spanish merger which may or may not then roll in Vodafone PT.  I am not sure you can make any plans based on it, one way or the other.

In practice, the primary consideration in Portugal for mobile (including mobile data, if living outside fibre areas) is coverage.  There are huge variations in coverage/signal strength in much of Portugal.  Relevant links to check this are in this thread:
https://expatsportugal.com/community/moving-to-portugal/internet-in-estremadura-leiria-tomar/#post-184808

In price terms, each of the main three operators runs offers, but there's overall very little to choose between them on price most of the time.  

In service terms - speaking from personal experience, and what others have told me, too - you'll get much further on most things by going into a company-owned store (as opposed to a franchise, where they generally couldn't care less about post-sales service, and I've basically been missold and overcharged by franchise places in the past...).  Over the phone, and online, there is disinterest, and even with good Portuguese. (The solution to problems in Portugal is usually most likely to be found face to face, then by phone, rather than by email or online - with some exceptions)

I've used three different Vodafone company stores, and they've taken the time to sort things, often spending ages on the phone to the relevant departments.  When I was initially shopping around, they were more helpful than MEO or NOS.  So, you may want to go to your nearest Vodafone company store (which will be in a larger town centre unit, or a major shopping centre (not a small shop unit or in a supermarket concourse, generally), and speak nicely to the staff there... and then check network coverage for places you need to connect, and see from there who you want to go with.  

Sorry not to be able to direct you to quite what you're looking for!

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4 Replies
Community Member
(@christiaan)
Joined: 1 year ago

Eminent Member
Posts: 26

@thomasandmatthew thanks again for the tip. I went into Vodafone yesterday and my account was credited with €45 euro today. 

I gave the support person the reference number, she read through the case and told me I'd provided everything they needed and it should have been resolved. I left it with her and now it's sorted.

I received text messages asking me to rate both the in store support I received and the telephone support I received today. I didn't get a chance to rate the support I received via the forum or email. So their miserable support via these methods simply isn't part of their corporate knowledge. Seems important.

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Ask Our Expats Consultant
(@thomasribatejo)
Joined: 4 years ago

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Posts: 390

@christiaan I am so pleased - it's always a little worrying that someone will have a terrible experience following advice!

The stores have always been great with me - glad they were with you, too!

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Community Member
(@christiaan)
Joined: 1 year ago

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Posts: 26

@thomasribatejo in defence of giffgaff (or rather the business model they use):

1. giffgaff wouldn't charge me €1 a day because I forgot to make a payment, or as in my case today, because my bank won't let me make payment for some reason. (and I can't work out if it's even possible to automate my monthly payment or pay by direct debit)

2. If I needed support from giffgaff I would go on their online forums and get an immediate response and *get paid significant credit* to my account for doing so.

3. giffgaff would routinely add extra data for free if I was running out before my monthly renewal. And if I did run out I could just start a new month straight away, including for roaming data. Not so with Vodafone, when you run out, you run out.

4. giffgaff has super simple pricing structure and it used to cost me £15 for 25 GB data. Vodafone has a complicated pricing structure with all these different social media packages, costs me £27 a month, and I've had to manually start managing whether my phone is connected to the mobile network to ensure that I don't run out of data each month.

5. I could change my monthly package with giffgaff each month, indeed at any time I wanted. Vodafone charges me €6 for the privilege.

For me these business models are in different universes. giffgaff is what a mobile company should be.

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Ask Our Expats Consultant
(@thomasribatejo)
Joined: 4 years ago

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Posts: 390

@christiaan Oh, I wasn't necessarily disagreeing with your views on their business model - I merely mentioned that, in my case, I had a bad experience in terms of service, whereas here, service has been good.

Fundamentally, GiffGaff is rooted in a different service, business and employment culture, and attempts to provide alternatives in the telecoms sector have so far been short-lived.  Bundles are the sales driver; face-to-face contact resolves things, not online channels, in most cases.  This is not to say you're wrong to hope for different, but as with many things in a new country, you won't change the culture single-handed (unless you aspire to set up a competitor!)

I agree that a better range of clearer options would be good - PAYG is not great here (and we moved to contract to avoid the annoyances).  We now have a bundle, of which we only actually use the broadband and mobile data elements, and it's within a couple of Euros of buying those two bits separately PAYG.  Yes, you're stuck with it for a couple of years - so now may not be the right moment for you - but it removes almost all the annoyances (particularly if you tick the right box to avoid sales calls!)

Mobile data options have been improving, but affordable all-you-can-eat is not yet present, for phones.  Since it has just recently been made available for mobile hotspots (basically, €1 per day - there is a cap, but it's considerably higher than what you mentioned you need), then it may be on the way for phones, too.  Meanwhile:

  • It's annoying, but switch data off in the house, and when there's free public or venue wifi available - it rapidly becomes a habit;
  • Consider getting an "unlimited" mobile hotspot, if the first point is impractical (and perhaps drop down in terms of your phone data inclusion to balance out a bit);
  • You can switch between PAYG for free with Vodafone, but only once every so often (and it's really unclear, I know!) - talk to the people in a store, and they should help;
  • Look out for offers (even on PAYG) - last summer, for instance, Vodafone gave PAYG users vast amounts of mobile data for free (we didn't run out, even with heavy use, all summer) - this is not the same as the way GiffGaff reward, sure, but it helps

 

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Posts: 26
Community Member
Topic starter
(@christiaan)
Eminent Member
Joined: 1 year ago
Posted by: @thomasandmatthew

In service terms - speaking from personal experience, and what others have told me, too - you'll get much further on most things by going into a company-owned store

Great advice, thanks!

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