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Vodafone Family (& Friends) is a nice little add-on available for both contract and Pay As You Go users of the network. For just £5 a month unlimited calls can be made between up to four different Vodafone numbers, and if bigger group is required then there is the option to increase the group to six for £7 a month. Iíve been using the family option for a couple of years now, starting on Pay As You Go (PAYG) and then continuing when I moved on to contract.
Set up on PAYG is a little convoluted, it took me quite some time to get through the options and the phone needs £5 of credit on it before the group can be created (£7 for a group of 6). Itís a good idea to write down the numbers you want to add to the group before calling 2345 and working your way through the options. As soon as the group is created £5 (or £7) is deducted from your credit, but it takes up to four hours before free calls can be made. This £5 does count towards free weekends if youíve taken up that particular offer (I canít see any reason why you wouldnít have). As soon as the group is active all members receive a text telling them that theyíve been added to the group, but they donít receive details of who other members of the group are, so youíll have to tell them who else they can call for free. When groups is added to a contract it is a little easier to set a group up (no need for credit) but all numbers have to be added in the same way.
Once the group is running each of the four (or six) members can make calls of up to 60 minutes to each other and not be charged for the call. Now depending on what tariff you are on a 60 minute call can cost anything from 90p (on stop the clock) so it doesnít take a genius to work out that there is a huge potential to save money. Personally I have the three people I talk to the most in my group, my son and two of my best friends, and believe me I get full value out of my £5 a month. I have been known to spend over 24 hours talking to a partner when he had to go to see his family for a week and it really did only cost me that £5.
When on PAYG it is important to have £5 in credit each month on the anniversary of the day you set the group up, and I found that I rarely, if ever, received a reminder that the payment was due. If the credit isnít available then the group will be suspended until the phone is topped up, and it sometimes takes a good few hours for that payment to come out. Making changes to the group is fairly simple by phoning 34444 you can add and remove group members or simply find out who is in the group. I did have trouble adding a new member once and there is a customer service option, which while having a long queue, was free and a very nice lady added the new number for me. I have also known the system to go down when an acquaintance was attempting to set up a group, but this only lasted a few hours.
Personally I think Vodafone Family is an amazing add-on, I only get 100 minutes on my contract which would soon be eaten up if I didnít have this. For £5 a month I get to chat to my mates whenever I want without having to worry about the cost. It also means that those same mates donít have to worry about whether they can afford to call me. I also have my 18 year old son in the group, and no he has no excuse for not keeping in contact. The only real disadvantage is that everybody in the group has to be on the Vodafone network so if I canít add everyone I want to including my partner who has just changed to the Orange network.