Mobile By Sainsbury’s Closure: What To Do Next & Alternative Deals

November 17th, 2015

Mobile by Sainsbury’s will close on the 15th January 2016. We outline the best alternatives, how to transfer your phone number elsewhere and how to get a refund for unused credit.

Mobile By Sainsburys LogoIn a message posted to their website, Mobile By Sainsbury’s has announced that their service will be closing on the 15th January 2016. Customers should transfer their phone number to another network before the service closes on the 15th January. Remaining credit should also be used up (otherwise, you’re able to claim a refund for unused credit).

In this article, we’ll highlight some of the possible options for customers who are caught up in the Mobile by Sainsbury’s closure. We’ll discuss some of the best alternative networks and how you can keep your current phone number when moving to another network. We’ll also discuss the process of getting a refund for unused credit.

Mobile by Sainsbury’s Closure

Mobile by Sainsburys Closure

On the 15th January 2016, Mobile by Sainsbury’s will close in the UK. Services on the network are being gradually wound down:

  • 14th October 2015: Mobile by Sainsbury’s is no longer available to new customers.
  • 14th November 2015: The final date on which you were able to top-up your account.
  • 14th November 2015: Rolling bundles were automatically ended on the 14th November. You can still use up remaining Pay As You Go credit but only at the standard rates or by buying a one-off bundle.
  • 15th January 2016: The Mobile by Sainsbury’s service will officially close. Customers will need to use up any remaining credit and will need to transfer their phone number elsewhere before the service finally closes.
  • 14th July 2016: Mobile by Sainsbury’s will continue offering double Nectar points for six months after their closure. The promotion will end on the 14th July 2016.

Customers wanting to transfer their phone number to another network can request a PAC Code online through the Mobile by Sainsbury’s website. You can alternatively give them a call on 0333 313 1150. When calling, you’ll also be able to request a refund for unused credit. The refund can be given to you in one of three ways:

  • As a Sainsbury’s gift voucher. You can use this in your nearest Sainsbury’s supermarket.
  • As additional Nectar points. This is probably the best way of receiving your refund as you’re able to use it at a number of retailers (including Sainsbury’s, Argos, Pizza Express and Vue Cinemas). You can also use the additional points in the Sainsbury’s double-up promotion where they’ll be worth twice as much.
  • As a cheque. If you reject the first two options, you can alternatively have the credit returned to you as a cheque.

The reason for Mobile by Sainsbury’s closing is due to their MVNO agreement with Vodafone coming to an end (this is the agreement that allowed them to operate a mobile service on the Vodafone network). It was rumoured as early as July that Vodafone wanted to pull out of the UK MVNO market. At the time of closure, the Mobile by Sainsbury’s network had about 150,000 subscribers.

Alternatives to Mobile by Sainsbury’s

Pay As You Go

Top UpAt the moment, you’re charged 8p/minute, 4p/text and 5p/MB on the Mobile by Sainsbury’s network. ASDA Mobile and the Co-operative Mobile are able to match the old pricing from Sainsbury’s (they also charge 8p/minute, 4p/text and 5p/MB). Both networks make use of coverage from EE (use the online coverage checker).

For an even cheaper alternative, Three charges just 3p/minute, 2p/text and 1p/MB:

Mobile Network Calls (per min) Texts (per SMS) Internet
Three 3p/minute 2p/text 1p/MB
ASDA Mobile 8p/minute 4p/text 5p/MB
Co-operative Mobile 8p/minute 4p/text 5p/MB
Tesco Mobile Lite 8p/minute 4p/text 10p/MB
Talkmobile 8p/minute 4p/text 25p/day for 25MB
Post Office Mobile 8p/minute 10p/text 10p/MB
giffgaff 10p/minute 6p/text 20p/day for 20MB

For more information, please see our full comparison of Pay As You Go networks. The article will compare prices on each network along with the level of coverage you’re able to expect.

Bundles with 500MB of Data

ASDA Supermarket

ASDA Mobile will match your old deal for only £7/month on Pay As You Go.

Currently, on Mobile by Sainsbury’s, you’ll be paying £10/month for 300 minutes, 5000 text messages and 500MB of 3G internet. With a rolling bundle, this would have been discounted in price to £8/month.

Your best alternative is to switch over to ASDA Mobile’s £7/month deal. Making use of coverage from EE, they offer 300 minutes, unlimited texts and 500MB of 3G internet per month.

Another good alternative is giffgaff’s £7.50 goodybag, using coverage from O2. For £7.50/month, giffgaff currently offers 250 minutes, unlimited texts and 500MB of 4G internet.

ASDA Mobile300Unlimited500MB£7.00

If you’re only able to get coverage from the Vodafone network, you could alternatively switch to Vodafone’s Big Value Bundles. For £10/month, you’ll get 150 minutes, unlimited texts and 500MB of 4G internet. For more information, you can read our full review of the Big Value Bundles).

Order ASDA Mobile SIM card (free) » Order giffgaff SIM card (free) »

Bundles with 1GB of Data

giffgaff 4G

With giffgaff, you’ll get the same deal as you currently have on Sainsbury’s but with an upgrade to higher-speed 4G internet.

On Sainsbury’s, you’d currently be paying £12.50/month for 500 minutes, 5000 texts and 1GB of 3G internet (discounted to £10/month on a rolling bundle). Once again, the best alternatives can be found on ASDA Mobile and giffgaff.

On ASDA Mobile, you’ll get a larger allowance of minutes for £10/month (600 minutes instead of 500 minutes).

On giffgaff, you’ll get the same monthly allowances but with a free upgrade to higher-speed 4G internet. The £10 goodybag has 500 minutes, unlimited texts and 1GB of 4G internet.

ASDA Mobile600Unlimited1.5GB£10.00

Bundles with 2GB of Data

Giffgaff Logo

We recommend switching over to giffgaff’s £12 goodybag with 500 minutes, unlimited texts and 2GB of 4G internet.

Customers on the 2GB bundle would currently be paying £15/month on Mobile by Sainsbury’s (discounted to £12/month with a rolling bundle). This would have given you 800 minutes, 5000 texts and 2GB of 3G internet.

The best value alternative is giffgaff’s £12 goodybag. Though it has a smaller number of minutes, you get access to faster 4G internet at no additional charge.

ASDA Mobile1,000Unlimited3GB£15.00

Customers wanting coverage from Vodafone can switch over to the £20 Big Value Bundle. This includes 500 minutes, unlimited texts and 2GB of 4G internet. Unfortunately, it’s a big jump up in price from the current Mobile by Sainsbury’s bundle but there are very few Pay As You Go offerings still using the Vodafone network.

For a full comparison of the bundles available on each network, see our guide to the UK’s best value Pay As You Go bundles. For customers willing to sign a contract, a Pay Monthly SIM card can give you even better value.

Keeping Your Phone Number

Leaving Mobile By SainsburysIn order to keep your existing phone number, it’s important to take action before the 15th January 2016. If your phone number hasn’t been transferred to another network before this date, it will cease to function and your phone number will be lost.

Step 1: Request your PAC Code from Mobile by Sainsbury’s

A PAC Code (or Porting Authorisation Code) allows you to move a phone number from one network to another. You should request a PAC Code from Mobile by Sainsbury’s as quickly as possible either through their website or by calling 0333 313 1150. You can call them any time between 8am and 8pm daily. If you’d like to request a refund for unused credit, we recommend calling to obtain your PAC Code.

As per OFCOM regulations, you must be given a PAC Code within 2 hours of your request. Once issued, the PAC Code will be valid for 30 days. If you don’t use the PAC Code in this time, you can request another one by calling Mobile by Sainsbury’s again. The final date for requesting a PAC Code is the 15th January 2016. We would, however, highly advise against leaving this until the very last minute (it will take some time for the transfer to be completed).

Step 2: Find a new mobile network for your phone number

You’ll need to find a new mobile network to which you’ll be able to transfer your phone number to. Most mobile networks will offer you a free Pay As You Go SIM card, though our recommended alternatives are ASDA Mobile and giffgaff (see the section above for a full comparison).

Order ASDA Mobile SIM card (free) » Order giffgaff SIM card (free) »

For a full list of possible options, please see our guide on free Pay As You Go SIM cards. It can take a couple of working days for your new SIM card to arrive.

Step 3: Provide your Mobile by Sainsbury’s PAC Code to your new mobile network

After receiving a SIM card from your new mobile network, place it into your phone and then activate your SIM card. To complete the transfer of your number to the new network, you’ll need to give them the PAC Code issued from Mobile by Sainsbury’s.

For step-by-step instructions on using a PAC Code, please select the mobile network you’d like to join:

PAC Code Finder: How to use your Mobile by Sainsbury’s PAC Code
Your new network provider:

More Info

Your phone number will normally be transferred on the next working day after you submit your PAC Code. To ensure an uninterrupted service, your phone number transfer should be completed before the 15th January 2016. We therefore recommend submitting a PAC Code to your new network no later than on the 13th January 2016.

It’s not possible to transfer your credit to another network. For this reason, you should try to use up any remaining credit before the transfer takes place. Alternatively, ask for your credit to be refunded when requesting your PAC Code from Mobile by Sainsbury’s. For more information, please see our in-depth article on how to use a PAC Code.

More Information

For more information, it’s worth reading the official notice and FAQs on the Mobile by Sainsbury’s website.

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About Ken

Ken Lo

My passion is helping people to get the most out of their mobile phone. I've been blogging at Ken's Tech Tips since 2005.

Aside from writing about mobile technology, my interests are in software development, digital marketing and physics. Outside of the blog, I work with numerous technology companies helping them to explain their product and helping them to market it to consumers. Please get in touch for more information.

Your Comments

We'd love to hear your thoughts and any questions you may have. So far, we've received 56 comments from readers. You can add your own comment here.

  1. John said:

    the link
    has been deleted

    does anybody have a copy ?

    does the deletion mean they have removed the offer ?

    1. Martin replied:

      I have been trying to find out why double nectar points have not yet been added to my nectar account. I have phoned about five times since the beginning of February and get excuse after excuse, all different ones as well.
      What is my next step with regard to getting the nectar points added?

      1. Rankersbo replied:

        Who did you phone? I phoned nectar and the woman talked so fast and appeared to be answering a different question to the one I asked.

      2. Martin replied:

        I have been speaking to Sainsbury’s mobile helpline, but not got anywhere with them since the beginning of February. I’m starting to think that they are not going to double up the points.

      3. Malcolm HancocK replied:

        Like wise i was informed by a sainsburys message to my mobile in July 2015 that there mobile service was ending for me as of November 2015 they also said my mobile double nectar points on my sainsburys shopping and petrol would continue till 16 July 2017, my points stop wef end of November 2015, have wrote to head office end of January 2016 and to date nothing, emailed them three times and still nothing, the last time i emailed them i told them i was going to contact Watchdog and trading standards and still nothing, to put it in perspective sainsburys had 150,000 mobile customers if each customer only gets an extra £5.00 per month on the double mobile points scheme from the end of December 2015 to the end of July 2016 that’s £75,000 they would be paying out, its probably a lot more than the figure i have quoted

        If enough of us complaint to trading standards then maybe just maybe sainsburys will honour there agreement with there ex mobile customers

  2. Andrew said:

    As per Judy’s comments on 17 Jan 2016. I first contacted mobile by Sainsburys for a refund of unused credit of my PAYG phone on 25 Nov 2015. I requested a cheque and was told it could take up to 4 weeks. It did not arrive. I then e-mailed customer services on 30 Dec 2015 and they did not respond. I telephoned again on 6 Jan 2016 and they were full of apologies, but told me the reason no cheque was issued was because I had not re-used my mobile number. They said they have now resolved this problem and that the refund by cheque it could take up to 4 weeks. 4 weeks later and still no cheque So on 1 Feb I telephoned for the third time and am still waiting.
    This is a ridiculous length of time to wait for a small refund. The only numbers available to call are not freephone and as you are on the phone for 20 minutes at a time would take a sizeable chunk out of any refund anyway, There are no avenues available to escalate the issue of unpaid refunds; simply the customer services e-mail which never receives a reply or the same phone number that has people full of apologies and telling me the cheque would take up to 4 weeks.
    This is appalling and at least as bad as when Asda closed their mobile phone service in 2014. To charge people for a service they then cease providing and then give no refund is fraudulent and/or theft. If I did it the police would be hammering on my door within the hour.

    1. PSD replied:

      Andrew – I totally agree. I have been fobbed off with numberous ridiculous excuses as to why the refund is so late (been waiting since 13 Dec), including “large number of requests”! Sainsburys pulled the service, knew the date that was happening, their number of subscribers and so were presumably prepared. This situation re refunds is outrageous. I assume they are hoping PAYG customers will just give up however much credit they are owed. Outrageous! I will not let this matter lie. For information: I eventually found a freefone number for Sainsburys- they will pass you through to the mobile department – 0800 636262

      1. Phil replied:

        After some chasing I did manage to extract a cheque refund for one of my numbers but have been waiting over three months for a refund on my other number. I’ve chased several times and have been promised a cheque within 30 days. I’m now seriously thinking of sending them a ‘letter before action’. Although it’s not much over £30 I feel there’s a principle at stake and I would be prepared to take them to the Small Claims Court over it.

        Indecently, I can’t find any way of finding out on the Sainsbury’s web site what credit you’re owed, so you need to have kept a record of this before your number was ported.

  3. Judy said:

    I’ve been trying to get a refund from Sainsburys mobile since 27th November. I had three phones on their network with credits totalling over £50. I have phoned them twice but they just say I am in the system. This is disgraceful. There appears to be nobody to complain to and they now say they are very busy and it could take 40 days to get a cheque. I asked for a cheque for one phone credit and then asked for Nectar points for the othe two phones. I have been told that Nectar points should be credited with 72 hours but I am still waiting and it is well over a month. Has anyone else having this problem and any suggestions as to what to do.

  4. Geoff said:

    I am having problems transfering my number to my new provider, the phone co-op (EE). I have now tried 2 pac’s but just get the response ‘expired or invalid pac’.

    The Sainsburys tech support line say their PACs aren’t being accepted by EE

    Has anyone else had similar problems?

    1. Melanie replied:

      Hi there I am experiencing a total nightmare with Sainsbury’s PAC and may well have now lost my number though absolutely no fault of my own. I received two PAC from Sainsburys used before 15th January. I received one PAC by text message which indicated that it was valid until 9th February. Both codes are not working with the Vodafone network. Similar message to yours coming up at Vodafone end. I am furious with Sainsbury’s as they are not being helpful at all.

      Geoff did you manage to sort your transfer?

      1. Geoff replied:

        No, I didn’t manage to get my number transferred. I’ve just phoned the Sainsburys support line yet again and they suggested trying Vodafone! Who of course can’t help.

        So I’m now resigned to losing my number. I’ve written a letter of complaint to Sainsburys customer service.

        1. Simon replied:

          I got my number transferred, no problem, but phone coop took about a week to process it.

  5. Andrew said:

    I’ve had to change again with Sainsbury’s getting out of MVNO (I was previously with Dialog Vizz who ceased trading) and it seems the only cheap payg provider using the Vodafone network is currently Lebara. I’m left wondering whether this will last as there have been many MVNO’s come and go in the market.

    1. Phil replied:

      Truphone also use Vodafone in the UK and rates are generally cheaper than Lebara and it’s free to access voicemail. However, you do have to pay an initial £10 for the SIM and there are a couple of disadvantages (can’t set anything other than default ring period and there’s no ‘alert and deliver’ of voicemail).

  6. Baz said:

    Just a quick note to say that I switched to TalkMobile, and so far I have been seriously impressed by their customer service.

    I have contacted them 3 times, and on each occasion my issues have been dealt with promptly and without question. For example I just queried a charge on my account for paper billing – they turned off paper billing, and then refunded the charge without any prompting from me. A level of service which is most unexpected for *any* mobile phone operator! And with a better & cheaper package too.

    I would not hesitate to recommend TalkMobile if you’ve yet to find a replacement for Sainsbury’s.

    1. PSD replied:

      Agree with Baz: transferred to TalkMobile after Sainsbury shut down – difference between night and day (so far!). Great pricing structure and efficient, easy to contact customer service.

  7. Luke said:


    I’ve been trying to get my credit balance back since October last year when they provided me with a PAC and I changed supplier. The initial response was that they wanted to palm me off with Nectar points (about £45) but it seems impossible to get a cheque out of them. I’ve contacted the company 7 times including requesting a ‘deadlock’ letter which I sent to them recorded delivery about 5 weeks ago. Any ideas? Thanks

  8. Viv Wright said:

    Thanks for your advice, only use mobile as emergency phone so there’s quite a bit of credit on it, just rang the number you gave and arranged to have my credit transferred to nectar card. Will change to ASDA payg, thanks again.

  9. Rob Pike said:

    All I want is sim card the same as I had with Sainsbury ie PAG pay an amount say £20 or more and no time limit on the money
    My use is very low like most old people and my credit can last a long time so I do not want a monthly payment that I have have to keep replacing monthly

    I just want top top up as required and use it for text and calls
    is there any one offering this ?

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Rob,
      Thanks for your comment. Lots of networks are still offering this service – you’ll just need to choose a traditional Pay As You Go tariff (avoid choosing a Pay As You Go bundle where you pay a regular amount for your airtime every month). My recommendation would probably be to go with ASDA Mobile – they charge 8p/minute and 4p/text (the same as on Mobile by Sainsbury’s). There’s no expiry on your credit, providing you use the SIM card at least once every 6 months.
      Hope this helps,

      1. Rob Pike replied:

        Thanks for the tip Ken I have now applied for a PAYG sim to Asda I will no problem meeting the criteria as the phones are used up to 24 times a year
        Robert Pike

  10. Suzy said:

    My credit is about to run out on my sainsbury pay as you go phone and I obviously can’t top it up through sainsbury. I will find a new provider but in the meantime, once my credit has run out, will I be able to receive texts and calls between tomorrow (when my credit will have run out) and 15 Jan?

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Suzy,
      Thanks for your comment. You’ll still be able to receive incoming calls and texts (it’s not necessary to have any credit to do this). You’ll just need to make sure you port your phone number elsewhere before the 15th January.
      Hope this helps,

  11. Peter Goodman said:

    Hi Ken

    Like others here Vodafone is the only viable network where I live. As I only use my smartphone basically for emergencies and about two calls a year I really only need a straight PAYG deal without any plans or bundles [I never use my ‘phone to download data] and Mobile by Sainsbury were ideal. Also I found their customer service very helpful. The thing is now who do I turn to? Can you recommend an MVNO using Vodafone who can a, give me a PAYG service without a plan and b, who are able to offer a good service. So many providers seem to attract atrocious reviews [I’m thinking Lebara and Talkmobile] and the rest seem to favour Ghana, Poland and the Philipines. I’ve been trawling through all of the Vodafone MVNOs that I can find and some even have broken links on their sites [not encouraging] and one even brought up a warning that I was putting my computer at risk!

    Any suggestions


    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Peter,
      Very sorry for the delay in replying to you. If you’d like coverage on Vodafone, your only real options will be Lebara Mobile, Talkmobile and Vodafone. Talkmobile will generally be the cheapest at 8p/minute and 4p/text (also, they’re now owned by Vodafone so the customer support should be a bit better). If you aren’t willing to choose Talkmobile, consider getting one of Vodafone’s Freebie Pay As You Go tariffs. It’s more expensive at 30p/minute and 14p/text but the good news is there’s no regular monthly charge. If you’re only making about two phone calls per year, it might simply be the case you pay a little bit more on those calls.

      1. Peter replied:

        Hi Ken

        Many thanks for your reply. I had looked at Lebara Mobile and also Talkmobile and I have to say that their standard of customer service seems sadly lacking. As I am a bit clueless when it comes to mobiles I really need to know that I can rely on backup from a supplier. I used to be with Vodafone [call cost didn’t matter as I am a very light user] but when I changed my ‘phone recently from a standard SIM model to a Samsung with micro SIM I found it impossible to get any sense from them as regards getting a replacement micro SIM. I ‘talked’ with agents in Mumbai, or wherever, three times and three times was promised that a replacement SIM would be sent to me. Nothing. I tried ringing the local Vodafone shop but they told me I had to travel to their city centre premises to pick up a card. So in desperation I joined Mobile By Sainsburys. Even then my problems didn’t finish because try as I might I could not get through to Vodafone for a PAC number. I rang many times over a period of three days to be put on hold with some mind-numbing Ollie Murs song playing over and over again. So it was either put my head down the toilet and flush it or go through a long procedure of telling everyone of my new number.

        I have now bought a SIM from Truphone on their prepay PAYG and I have to say that both the call reliability and the customer service has been first class. True I had to pay £19.99 up front [which includes £10.00 worth of calls] but their call charge is only 6p a minute and I feel comfortable with a company who I am convinced will look after me. So long as Vodafone don’t pull the plug on them too!

        Oh, I chose to notify everyone of my new Sainsburys number and didn’t put my head down the loo.


        1. Amir replied:

          Hi peter my phone is locked to vodafone and i do not want to pay the £20 unlock fee and use their service for 30 days before giving me the unlock fee!

          I have spoken to Talkmobile and have found them to be very helpful they let me know that i can tether to my ipad and that soon you can choose a direct debit date of your choice!

          As you want pay as you go you can do the 8p and 4p i currently use talk talk very confusing i know as they still use vodafone and so long as you don’t call them then the service runs as normal its spot on! I’ll let you know how talkmobile goes if you want but i won’t be joining until next month to be honest but up to you. best thing is to get a free pay as you go sim from them and see how it goes before moving your number over.

          Also just another thought if you rarely use your phone then why do you have a smartphone! Surely an old Nokia is much better and longer battery life. that’s why i use the ipad – it does the smart function so i just use a standard phone! I wish we could go back to 2005

          1. Peter replied:

            Hello Amir

            Many thanks for your input. The die is now cast and I have gone with Truphone as I described above. So far results very good.

        2. Phil replied:

          It’s nice to know that someone else has gone with Truphone. Perhaps the more of us who switch to them the less chance of Vodafone pull the plug there too. Perhaps Ken could help by including them in the article.

          I mentioned a couple of downsides, being the ring period can’t be adjusted from the default 20 seconds and there’s no ‘alert and deliver’ option on voicemail (although there’s text alert and email). Another thing I noticed in Spain last year is I think, because of the way their system works, you don’t get full roaming across all the available networks but can only connect to the local network they have an agreement with. This means, when you are abroad, you won’t get the same coverage as you would with full roaming.

          On the plus side, receiving and setting up voicemail is free of charge and billing is rounded up on a per second basis after the first 30 seconds. Contrast that with Lebara who charge 15p per min for receiving and setting up voicemail with billing rounded up on a per minute basis. This meant I consumed a considerable chunk of my initial call credit, just setting up voicemail!

          1. Phil replied:

            I forgot to add, of course the main selling point for Truphone is the quality of their international connections which are charged at the same rate of 6p per minute as UK to UK. Worth it for frequent travellers.

  12. Ken Lo
    Ken said:

    Hi all,
    Thank you so much for all of your contributions below – I’ve just updated the article above with further information for customers caught up in the closure. Specifically, I’ve added further information on how you can claim a refund for unused Pay As You Go credit on Mobile by Sainsbury’s.
    Please let me know if you have any further tips or suggestions to share!

    1. Amir replied:

      You don’t mention talkmobile ken for people who are locked to vodafone and who don’t want to top up £20 for the unlock code!

      Also the people’s operator is cheaper at 5p a min and 3p text. I suppose Asda is a safer bet but then who would have thought sainsbury’s were going to give up. Voda are slowly getting rid of their MVNOs!

      Also delight give a 2g option the same price as three!

      Gonna try talkmobile as vodafone are awash with cash after their verizon sell off – they have promised £1 billion in infrastructure upgrades, something Telefonica are not spending cause they wanna flog o2. I don’t think that will happen though as there’ll be three operators instead of four – no way.

      Put my mum on tesco instead: you have the triple lite tariff which is the same as asda but 10p a meg internet but my mum only uses internet at home.

      Keep up the good work ken. so now its a delight, life and talkmobile review and the interesting thing is talkmobile is owned by voda and life is owned by EE, looks like they won’t disappear too quickly!

  13. Phil said:

    “It’s not possible to transfer Pay As You Go credit to another mobile network. For this reason, you should try to use up any remaining credit before the transfer takes place. For more information, please see our in-depth article on how to use a PAC Code.”

    Ordinarily this would be true but in this case Sainsbury’s are giving notification of termination of the contract, not you. Request a PAC code and they will probably offer to refund any PAYG credit in the form of a gift voucher (omitting to say it’s a Sainsbury’s gift voucher) or via Nectar. You can always decline these and request a cheque.

    I think Sainsbury’s are being deliberately sneaky with their working. Don’t feel pressured into using up your PAYG credit.

  14. Phil said:

    The thing about Mobile by Sainsbury’s is they use the Vodafone network and Vodafone is all we can get reliably where I live. Native Vodafone is too expensive for low use PAYG.

    There are a couple of other virtual network operators using Vodafone that may be worth a look, although who knows how much longer they’ll be contracted with Vodafone. There are Truphone and Lebara.

    Truphone is certainly the cheaper of the two (6p per min) and, because of the way their network is implemeted, is an interesting one to consider if you travel a lot. There are a few downsides which aren’t immediately apparent. These include not being able adjust the ring period from the default 20 secs, no option for ‘voice alert and deliver’ of voicemail and no divert to another number (Sainsbury’s don’t support this either). On the plus sides it seems to be free to listen to voicemail and Freephone numbers are actually free. Customer support also seem more helpful and competent than Lebara.

    At 15p/9p per min Lebara is more a lot more expensive than Truphone. On the plus side you can adjust the ring period up to 30 secs and for voicemail there’s an option for ‘voice alert and deliver’ or the standard text message alert (not that customer care know about this). However, voicemail costs 15p per min, even to call to adjust voicemail options. They don’t support divert to another number. It’s possible they support call barring but they don’t issue you with a barring code and by the time you’ve tried the usual 0000 and 1234 a couple of times you’re blocked and customer care don’t have a clue what you’re on about. Their registration and billing systems seem to be riddled with bugs (e.g. I can view the top ups from previous owner of my number) that it feels like another TalkTalk style hack waiting to happen!

    1. Baz replied:

      I have the same issue Phil – I need Voda in order to get coverage.

      I’m looking at TalkMobile instead. They have a 1000min/5000txt/1GB SIM-only deal for £7.50. That’s better (slightly) than my current Sainsbury’s Bundle. Customer Service seems to be poor, but I’m prepared to risk that.

  15. The People's Operator said:

    We are TPO – we’ve offer our customers good plans and give to charitable causes, all you have to do is use your phone.

    We are offering a £10 Free SIM to each and every one of you, this way you can test out the network with one of our Hero Bundles and see how you like it. Plus, we give 10% of your mobile spend to a cause of your choosing – at no extra cost to you.

    Check out our webpage exclusively for Mobile by Sainsbury’s customers:

  16. Haydn said:

    Sainsbury’s mobile also offered calls to the UK from Canada for only 34ppm which was outstanding. I am considering Tello (3) as I already have a 2nd phone on Virgin mobile which uses EE. Vodafone coverage was very good particularly in Scotland. Whilst not having much 3G in Scotland, I found Sainsbury’s (Voda) GPRS 2G signal was capable of sending and receiving emails more reliably than my EE based Virgin sim. It seems as though Voda has the smallest number of MNVOs operating on its network. I have also been looking at the Anywhere Sim as you are able to Roam on any UK network which would be particular good for those remote hiking and camping trips.

    1. Barry replied:

      You should try Coop Mobile if you make a lot of calls to Canada – they only charge 2p per min to landlines and mobiles and they charge on a per second basis. See here:

      1. Haydn replied:

        Sorry I meant Canada to the UK (roaming). 35ppm is outrageous the other way 🙂

      2. Paula replied:

        I believe Haydn was talking about calls made FROM Canada (Roaming) not TO Canada from the UK.

        A cost effective option is a local ‘Speakout’ sim from 7-11 stores and it is a virtual network using Rogers in Canada.

  17. Stefan said:

    My wife has a PAYG phone with Mobile by Sainsbury’s. She phoned them last night to get her PAC code and to ask for a refund, because she still has a lot of credit on her phone (about £40) and she won’t be able to use it all before MBS closes down. She was offered the remaining credit in Nectar points or as a Sainbury’s gift card. She chose the Nectar points, because they can be spent in Argos as well. Her remaining credit will be converted to Nectar points once her number has transferred to a new provider.

    She’ll probably move to Post Office mobile because their £5 bundle meets her needs (250 minutes, 3000 texts, 500Mb). She was paying MBS £10 a month for a similar bundle so that will save us £5 a month.

    1. Stefan replied:

      There is now a web page to request a PAC code:

      After filling in the firm, the PAC code will be sent by text.

      1. Stefan replied:

        My wife has now moved her number to the Post Office but unfortunately the Post Office £5 bundle now only has 200MB, 250 minutes and 300 texts. The Post Office are making their bundles a lot less competitive from today (16 November 2015).

        1. Stefan replied:

          My wife has finally received her remaining balance as Nectar points. It has taken exactly 3 weeks from the time her number was ported to another network.

  18. jeannie said:


    I am a pensioner and was given £20 last year for my birthday so I put it onto a PAYG mobile sim from Sainsburys. As I use very little – just texts – I thought that this would last me for a year or so.

    Now they tell me I have 3 months in which to use my credit which to date is £17.28.

    Why can’t they give me a credit note (to spend in Sainsburys) when I hand my sim card into them – this would help me and lots of pensioners like me who do not have money to burn?

    I have learnt a valuable lesson here – never never never put more than £10 onto a mobile sim card.

    Very very disappointed customer (soon to become a Tesco one – in the shopping area too)!!

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Jeannie,
      Thanks for your comment. I definitely agree that it’s not a good idea to put too much money on a Pay As You Go SIM card. Several reasons for this: it isn’t protected in the same way as a bank deposit and you won’t normally be able to take the money back out. Another potential pitfall is that your credit can expire if you don’t use the SIM card for a certain amount of time.
      In this case, I do believe Mobile by Sainsbury’s are offering a refund for unused credit. If you give them a call on 0333 313 1150 and explain your situation, they should hopefully be able to help you out. Please do this before transferring your phone number elsewhere, or your credit may be lost for good.

    2. Phil replied:

      Sainsbury’s are being naughty. They have to give you a refund, as they are giving notice of termination of the contract, not you. However, they are doing what they can to steer you away from that.

      Firstly they ask you to ensure you’ve used all your calling credit by 15th Jan. Nasty form of words.

      Secondly, when you ask for a PAC code and a refund they say they can only give you a refund in the form of a Sainsbury’s gift voucher or Nectar points. Not true. Persist and they will send you a cheque refund, although they try to put you off by saying it could take fours weeks.

      I think it’s pretty poor to try and avoid giving you a proper refund.

  19. Amir said:

    Yeah put my mother on this was going to choose ASDA mobile but a PAC is easy to get! Not sure what ones to use now! If the post office is 4p text even though i’m not sure it is then the half price credit would work out at 4p calls and 2p texts for my mum!

    Just want something simple that can top up by phone or in-store do not want internet only.

    The TPO looks cheap but can you top up with a card or in store.

    Or even over the phone with a debit card?

    The other thing about sainsburys was the cheapest roaming rates in the world. 7p a min to receive calls anywhere even on giffgaff when you abroad its at least 50p a min to receive calls!

    I think personally mobiles have got to cheap now and people can’t make money and are giving up which means prices will rise. Even just 5 years ago i paid £18 a month for 600 mins unlimited texts these days its £7 a month so good deals but they have to make money as well

    Any ideas anyone? Is TPO any good? Thanks ken if you have any ideas

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Amir,
      Thanks for the feedback – sorry, I made a typo on the Post Office Mobile pricing (it should be 10p per text message as you mention in your comment). The table above has now been fixed.
      With regards to TPO, you can read my full review of the network here. You can top-up in-store at either Payzone and Paypoint locations. Apart from that, you can also top-up online via their website. It isn’t possible to top-up on the phone.
      Hope this helps,

    2. Khairul replied:

      You could put her on the Three network. They have a flat rate of 3p per minute, 2p per text and 1p per MB, and you can top-up with an over-the-counter top-up voucher pretty much anywhere that sells top-ups. Receiving calls abroad is free in 18 destinations:

      The biggest drawback for some is that you need a 3G-enabled phone, as Three SIMs don’t work in 2G-only phones.

      1. Amir replied:

        Also on the basic calling plan does not include feel at home only if you add a bundle! That needs to be made clear plus my mum only has a 2g phone so 3 no good

        1. Paula replied:

          Your mistaken – incoming calls are still free without a bundle in 3 ‘like home’ destinations.

          1. Amir replied:

            But a 2g phone will not work with three but thanks for the heads up

  20. Ian said:

    Just got the SMS from sainsbury’s on this…so sad, I ported to here from Ovivo..and now I have to do it all over again, have to use my credit this time at least!

  21. Khairul said:

    Ken, the Post Office have some good bundles worth putting in the comparison tables.

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