back to article GiffGaff in data spaff, goodybag gaffe: ICO says its 'avin a laff

The people's network operator, GiffGaff, has leaked customer details to other customers and fouled up its goodybag topup scheme. Those who complained were surprised to find that GiffGaff isn't registered with the Information Commissioner's Office. The information leak was more embarrassing than damaging, and involved a load of …


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  1. Dr. Mouse


    "perhaps indicative of the operator's general business practices, which include bribing existing customers to recommend it to friends and family."

    I guess you are not a fan of giffgaff.

    Many companies offer recommendation bonuses. They are not bribes. Initially, with GG, the whole "payback" (rewards for recruiting new members or helping out those with problems) were a way to reduce support and advertising costs by having the customers do it for them. With recommendations/recruitment this is fairly common practice, and to call them bribes is inflamatory at best.

    1. DJ Smiley

      Re: Eh?





      All offer something similar for various services.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Eh?

        Sure, but do they pay you for helping out on the forums?

        Someone last year got a nice payout of £30k. Okay, probably treating it as a job but that's still better than anyone else.

        Giffgaff have their problems from time to time, but I find their site and deals to be the best. Easy to top up, easy to get a SIM sent. Less hoops to jump through than when I tried to top up a 3 SIM.

  2. dogged

    The whole article carries that tone. Odd, really. It's not like they're worse than any other telco.

  3. Andy Fletcher

    It's not their fault

    "The mobile network run by you"

    They're obviously smarter than anyone thinks. The users can't complain about cockups if they're the one's in charge, now can thay?

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    nothing new for giffgaff

    What's more shocking is this isn't the 1st time they screwed up mail merge. In 2 years I don't remember a single month where they didn't mail out something with a random merged field.

    Not registering with ICO isn't a surprise. giffgaff seem to believe regulation and laws only apply to them if they're caught and even then only if their users vote for it.

    The entire operation's flaky in so many ways.

    1. DJ Smiley

      Re: nothing new for giffgaff


      The register has never done that before either...


      1. AdamW

        Re: nothing new for giffgaff

        I'm sure the elreg phoned up the ICO and admitted the mistake.

    2. Sigh

      Re: nothing new for giffgaff

      Yup, it's flaky and it's cheap. Very, very cheap. My phone works as much as it has on any other network and I've never had to pay more than £10 a month, no contract and no fuss.

      If occasional corporate amateurism is the trade for cheapness then that's fine with me. I'll remain a customer for as long as they can remain solvent.

  5. Tecstio

    The cost to notify is £35 if turnover is bellow £25.9M OR there are fewer than 250 members of staff...

    The 2009 annual return suggests a turnover well below this figure. I doubt GiffGaff have more than 250 staff anyway.

  6. Gary Riches

    My "bribes" get paid to charity by the giffgaff... hardly nefarious.

  7. AngusH

    Re-read the ICO guidance, Giff Gaff might be right.

    Have a read of this one:

    There are fairly broad exemptions in registration if you're just conducting general business, so Giff-Gaff might be correct in saying that they don't need to register.

  8. Frostbite
    Thumb Down

    Not a good article really

    A poorly informed and bias article. I'm used to better from El Reg

    1. David Neil

      Re: Not a good article really


    2. jimsefton

      Re: Not a good article really

      I posted similar yesterday but my post was deleted.

  9. Jacqui

    el reg - you are having a larf?

    I have suffered outages under GG, BT, virgin and and voda. GG were the only one to fess up.

    Virgin stil come up with insane excuses every time I have an outage.

    I have also suffered through incorrect billing and money grabs by BT (10ukp/per minutel over three months due to "penalty charges" because I did not make enougth calls!) and nthell deciding to stick previous line owners charges onto my second bill when they could not contact them!

    I had to take then to small claims to get that back and they never paid up!

    Then we have voda stating (at the time) terms that there is a 50P per day data charge but charging me ~3UKP/hr when I transferred my sim to a known silent android phone on evening.

    The reason I went with GG was the same android phone has a fixed cost of 10UKP per month - voda were eating over 20UKp per DAY and when I complained they hung up on me then started seding me and a WSP silly threatening letters when I wrote about the situation and the inane excuses they had given me.

    GG are angels in comparison to the rest - I can only assume the author has some form of vested interest - the big players are not above paying journos backhanders and we know enough about journos less than perfect morals :-)

  10. Ascy

    Registration really essential?

    Similar to what a previous commentator has pointed out, I didn't think it was necessary for a business to register with the ICO if you used the information for running your business - as of the latest DPA, at least. You just had to comply with the rules.

  11. AnyOld

    Giffgaffer Goodybag insider

    As a GiffGaffer for 6 months now, having been subject to the outrageous outages and the running joke that there is a DATA service, I feel the need to voice my opinion in a forum where my opinion DOES NOT GET DELETED.

    When the Goodybags work, then so do calls and texts, the DATA service however is a joke.

    I previously had O2, same phone, with O2 when I had a signal I had DATA, this is not the case with GiffGaff. The only time I get some data is in my home cell, exactly where I do not need it.

    The tariffs are a great deal, but like the spoon, "There is no DATA", Neo.

    I dont want support from some half informed, acne cursed support person who cannot conduct a conversation without defensively inserting smiley faces or half answer a question without a Google search.

    I want my money back when you don’t comply with the service agreement. I don’t need you to appease whatever guilt you think I may have by donating to charity instead of refunding my money.

    As a developer of Mobile Handset Platforms for 15 years, and a fully cognitive human, I think GG SUCKS.

    Thanks for letting me get that off my chest.

    1. Dr. Mouse

      Re: Giffgaffer Goodybag insider

      That sounds like a rather bad experience. If I understand you, I'd have left having such service.

      I have to say this seems rather opposite from my own experience. I haven't seen any GG forum posts deleted for complaining, and there are quite a lot. The only time I've seen posts deleted is when they have been offensive (e.g. bad language etc). I've also never had any problems with data connectivity except in low signal areas (like at my desk at work, which is annoying but hardly GGs fault).

      Hope you find a network & package better suited to your needs.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    plural of anecdote...

    have had data off o2 and gg and they were both crap. gg, however, is cheap and not that much nastier.

  13. Confuciousmobil

    I use..

    I think I've tried most carriers in the UK, had a great deal with T-Mobile (who are very good) but then found Giff Gaff. I get everything I need for £10/month. The support on the forums is excellent - and I've just found out that I actually get paid for helping out (I do on many forums but have never been paid before!)

    I can recommend GG - YMMV but I have been very impressed with them - I was going to add 'for the price', but I am impressed regardless of the price.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The article seems to imply the ICO is useful...

    About as useful as OFCOM.

  15. Steven Hollis
    Thumb Down

    "Some of you mentioned that we’re not registered with the ICO, it is not a legal requirement to register with the ICO."

    Its actually a criminal offence not to register with the Information Commisoneer.

    I am amazed giffgaff got away with it for so long.

    Section 21 Offences.

    (1)If section 17(1) is contravened, the data controller is guilty of an offence.

    (2)Any person who fails to comply with the duty imposed by notification regulations made by virtue of section 20(1) is guilty of an offence.

    (3)It shall be a defence for a person charged with an offence under subsection (2) to show that he exercised all due diligence to comply with the duty.

    1. Alister Silver badge

      "Its actually a criminal offence not to register with the Information Commissioner."

      Except if you are exempt... Did you not read the various comments up-thread?

      1. Steven Hollis

        Actually I read the Act of parliament.

  16. conel

    Overly Sensitive

    I use Giffgaff and will continue to, because its cheap...

    I've had trouble ordering goodybags, not just the last couple of weeks either. And when I ordered a sim recently it took almost two weeks to arrive. So the reg is right, they are a bit rubbish but they are very cheap.

    And for those over sensitive Fans, the style of the article is exactly in keeping with the Reg, and long may it continue!

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