Improving the customer experience for users travelling abroad (especially outside of Europe)
By: lordsnooty | 25-09-2014 13:09
OK, using giffgaff is actually a bit of a pain if you are travelling abroad for any length of time (particularly outside of Europe).
The issue is that, even if you have a current goody bag, the call costs come from the top up 'fund' on your account. Overseas charges are high (especially outside of Europe) so if you use your phone even moderately you may need to make multiple top ups.
This is where the problem kicks in.
1. The first few top ups seem to work
2. After that, giffgaff apply a restriction to your account as a 'fraud prevention' measure
3. Further top ups are unsuccesful with a "bank declined" message being shown
4. The message also suggests you try alternative cards to pay for the top up but, because it is a giffgaff block on your account, all alternative cards are rejected with the same "bank declined" message.
5. This is very unhelpful as it may cause you to contact your bank (as I did) and ask them why they are declining the transactions only to find that no transactions are being passed on to the bank!
6. The restiriction seems impossible to lift; if you contact the agents (as I did) you are told to "get a friend to buy a voucher and send you the code", which is a laughably inadequate response.
7. The restiriction may continue after you return to the UK, which means that you cannot text back to people overseas for several days until giffgaff get around to resetting your account.
All in all, this is pretty unsatisfactory.
A simple solution would be to copy the sort of approach taken by many companies when in similar positions; merely ping an email to the email address linked to the account asking the user to log in and confirm the tranactions are legit. Or even modify the message to tell the user to contact giffgaff and confirm the top up attempts are bona fide transactions.
That way the restriction could be lifted and the user could happily make calls / send texts while abroad.
Addressing this will greatly improve the experience of giffgaff users when abroad as it will let them do things such as check calls / messages on their usual number and avoid them having to purchase a local PAYG SIM in the country they are visiting.