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  • Interview with Lebara UK's Commercial Director, Rajesh DongreInterview with Lebara UK's Commercial Director, Rajesh Dongre

Interview with Lebara UK's Commercial Director, Rajesh Dongre

We caught up with Lebara UK to discuss its brand new SIM only offerings.
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1. Can we start with an introduction to Lebara as a mobile network? Please talk us through what Lebara is all about.

Lebara is an MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operator) that runs on the Vodafone network in the UK. It’s part of the Lebara group that has footprint across 5 countries in Europe (Germany, France, The Netherlands, Denmark and the UK) with a combined customer base of over 2 million customers.

The group has its roots in international calling cards which later evolved to selling pay as you go SIM cards targeted primarily at the international calling market. It disrupted the market with 1p per minute for international calls at a time when the other major players were charging up to 50 times the price.

Lebara is now looking to disrupt the national mass market within the SIM only category.

2. There are a growing number of mobile networks in the UK. What do you think really sets Lebara apart from some of the other networks out there?

The telecom industry is notorious for giving its customers a raw deal, be it customer experience or value. There is almost nothing worthwhile you can buy from any of the big 4 operators for less than £10, and that is on a contract for 12months. Value on 1-month contract (not everyone offers it) is way worse.

Then there are the dreaded out of bundle charges, inflexibility in-plan changes, exorbitantly expensive international calls, credit checks (even for SIM only plans), inaccessible call centres, mobile data that you cannot hotspot and the list goes on and on. No wonder the average customer experience of the big 4, as measured on Trustpliot, is an appalling 2 on 10.

At Lebara we are doing things differently. We believe that customers deserve better. All our plans:

  • Are 30-day rolling, which means you can cancel or change anytime

  • Have out of bundle capped to 0 by default, so no bill shocks

  • Come with no credit check, which means you set them up in no time

  • Include 4G data, UK mins and texts and international mins by default

  • Can be used as a hotspot making it easy to share your data

And our plans start from as little as £3.95, lowest in the UK market. This also comes with industry leading Trustpilot score of 8.2. It’s a no-brainer.

3. Why do you think 1-month flexible contracts are so appealing to customers?

Innovation in handsets is slowing down. At the same time, they are becoming more expensive. This is making people to hold on to their handsets longer, skip a release and wait for the next one.

In such a scenario, 1-month flexible contracts become an excellent choice. Also the fact that you can change or cancel anytime (without any penalty) is a refreshing change for customers.

4. Some contracts out there can end up costing a customer a lot of money, particularly when you factor in all the costs of minutes, data, roaming. How does Lebara manage to offer customers such fantastic value for money with no nasty surprises?

In reality the actual costs of mins, data and roaming is quite low. Unfortunately most of the industry players have big overheads in terms of big budget marketing costs, huge (and often unnecessary) footprint of physical shops, salaries to pay a massive employee base, big profit expectations of the shareholders etc.

We believe in running a lean set up and passing on most of the savings to the consumers. We do make a small profit by the way.

5. In the past, changing networks has been a bit of a hassle, but text to switch has made things a lot easier. How simple is it to sign up to a Lebara deal?

We don’t do a credit check and as a result, our sign up is quite simple and quick. We have had a fair proportion of customers sign up in less than 60 seconds. If you order before 5pm (except on Saturday and Sunday), you will receive your SIM the next day.

Just get your PAC code from your existing provider by texting PAC to 65075. Call us on 5588 (or chat with us online), hand the PAC code over to us and we will sort out the rest. What’s more, you will also get £10 credit to spend on out of bundle calls absolutely free.

6. Lebara has always been known for helping customers keep in touch with friends and family all around the world. Do you still offer international minutes?

Yes very much so. We are very proud to have helped the international community by offering industry leading value & experience. We are very excited to extend the same to our SIM only plans.

Our SIMO plans come with international calling to over 40 countries which include whole of Europe, India, China, US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Singapore etc., at no extra cost. Another industry first.

## 7. For those customers who are already familiar with Lebara, how has the company grown and developed over the years and what does the brand mean today?

Lebara group was founded in 2001. It started off as a calling card business largely selling through independent mobile phone shops. As our consumers evolved, calling cards evolved into pay as you go SIMs.

Over the years we have understood the nuance of customer experience and value. The natural next step was to extend our expertise to the underserved SIM only market. With us, you can expect industry leading experience at industry leading price. Expect more, do more.

8. What type of mobile phone user has the most to benefit from signing up to Lebara?

We have designed our plans looking at the needs of the mass market. So whether it’s the occasional talker, someone who is active 24x7 on social media, or someone who uses the phone sparingly, we have a suitable plan for all.

9. It’s holiday season. What are your roaming options like? Can customers use their minutes and data abroad?

Oh yes. Customers can carry their allowances to over 40 countries in Europe for free.

10. 5G is finally starting to launch in the UK. How do you think that’ll change the way we use our smartphones?

5G is exciting. The possibilities with such high data speeds and higher bandwidth are endless. Think even better videos, no buffering, connected devices, automation, augmented/virtual reality, smart cities etc. We are the cusp of a mega revolution.

Having said that, the entire ecosystem needs to evolve right from network deployment, handsets, connected devices, consumer friendly pricing etc. This is a big one and it will take its time.

11. What does the future look like for Lebara? What plans do you have in the works?

We have just begun our journey into the SIM only market. We believe we have a fantastic proposition and our focus is to make more and more people aware about it. Initial results look very promising, and our products been very well received in the market.

We are growing and we would like to build on this momentum. At the same time, we will continue to look at frustrations of the customers in the market and keep coming out with newer ways of addressing them.

12. One last question we’re all dying to know the answer to: what’s the reason behind the name Lebara?

I get asked this question quite often. Lebara was founded by Leon, Baskaran and Ratheesan, who I have had the pleasure and good fortune of working very closely with.

Lebara comes from the first 2 letters of their names. LE from Leon, BA from Baskaran and RA from Ratheesan. They built this great company based on exceptional customer experience and value. We are only taking it forward.

Want to join this network? Take a look at our incredible Uswitch exclusive Lebara SIM only deals.