Thanks to @QuirkyBean - a member of the community support team for GiffGaff, its fixed now. Clearly, the agents couldnt fix this and required someone to pick up my pleas for help off Twitter. I'm still deciding if this is a social thing or just a broken support thing. The twitter conversation went list this (its in reverse order, so start at the bottom and work up):
This doesn't include the various 'Hey GiffGaff, Why doesnt support work' on twitter or on their forum - clearly they didn't work. And neither did asking for this to be fixed on a number of different support incidents.
1. GiffGaffs' web site is mildly broken. Things disappear and reappear (my fault calls), accounts become disconnected from the phone (but not visible on the back end) and depending on browser, certain functionality doesnt work. From the 'try a different browser' mantra that they try on every new fault call, its well known and well documentented as not working, and they wouldnt be stalling for time if there was a fix imminent. It'll probably remain broken.
2. GiffGaffs' support appear to be incentivised to close the calls as quickly as possible, regardless of success. They have a number of well worn excuses , and you have to anticipate and bypass these. From my interactions, they have absolutely no idea what you see on the GiffGaff web site, and are so used to idiot questions that they'll just shut stuff down they dont understand or believe. You can't send screenshots on fault calls, and you have to use their categorisation (which doesnt include 'broken web site' or 'cant buy package' or 'dont close my help calls without fixing the issue'). So just blog 'em somplace and send in the links.
3. GiffGaff appears to measure itself on social media and interaction. Hitting their twitter account, and the account of their founder - @GavT (Gav Thompson) appears to be a hot button way of getting their 'social team' involved. It fixed the issue in under an hour, as opposed to me howling at the moon (at their support agents) for another month.
4. Getting a SIM card out of GiffGaff is a long and troubled experience. My advice is to order the maximum every time, and by the time you get them, you might use them all. Until they fix this, expect a 7-14 day wait for them, which in this day and age, is inexcusable. Their assurances that they cannot do anything, nor enable any other SIM cards that had got lost and returned, will not fill you full of confidence.
5. They have their own 'MyGiffGaff' iPhone app, which appears to be written by a single developer and relies on charityware. Given that this app is how many iPhone users will actually set up their APN settings, this is a huge ommission, and something GiffGaff should address immediately. 'We dont do apps' they might whine, whilst at the same time we all know that O2 employ a number of south-bank based mobile application shops on a almost continual basis. For gods sake GiffGaff, pay the man a decent living salary and have him do something wonderful.
6. No matter how many times O2 employees go onto the GiffGaff facebook page and claim otherwise, GiffGaff is a wholy owned subsiduary of O2, and their founder - Gavin Thompson is still there as the innovations manager. He thought that a web 2.0 version of a telecoms provider would be a good thing to do. (This 'ran by you' is complete flannel and only confuses the least web literate)
Gavin isnt wrong. Most of the interactions we have with telecoms providers are broken, and lead to immense frustration. However, given the stream of failure that GiffGaff demonstrates, it demonstates that dinosaur telecom companies appear unable to innovate and deliver a decent user experience in terms of web site. Something the rest of the world appears to have soved by 2005.
Its a shame, as it could really be an innovative new product in this staid, flatlining mobile market. Pity they skimped on customer service and delivery.
I'll stick with them for the moment, on the grounds that I can't be bothered moving elsewhere. Assuming it all keeps working.