Sim-only mobile broadband provider Samba Mobile closes down

Samba Mobile customers will no longer be able to use their broadband Sim cards after the firm closed down due to rising data costs – but some can get a refund.

Samba Mobile offered free broadband to customers who bought a Sim card from the firm. These Sim cards could be used in mobiles, tablets including iPads and in mobile broadband dongles.

Customers who went direct to Samba could get Sim cards costing up to £12.50. has also featured different Samba Mobile Sim deals, costing up to £6.

After the data allowance was used, customers had access to free broadband in return for watching brief adverts online. Users could also buy additional broadband if they topped up via PayPal. This data top-up then lasted 28 days.

As these were broadband-only Sims, mobile phone numbers weren't linked to them, so customers don't need a PAC code to move to a new provider.

Samba Mobile also sold dongles costing up to £25, although these will still work as long as you buy a Sim from a new provider to put in it (see our Cheap Mobile Broadband and Wi-Fi guide for the best buys).

The firm told us it had around 2,000 users in total.

I bought a Sim. Can I get my money back?

  • I bought a Sim in April 2014. Anyone with a Sim from Samba Mobile which was bought in April 2014 will get an automatic refund to the PayPal account used to make the original order by Thursday.
  • I bought a Sim before April 2014. Samba Mobile won't be giving these customers a refund of what they paid.

If you have been left out of pocket and want to claim back the amount you spent on the Sim, you could claim back the cash from PayPal. You need to claim via its online dispute centre.

Its rules state where you don't get the service expected, you must raise an initial dispute via PayPal within 45 days of purchase. PayPal puts the two sides together, but in this case the company has closed. So after making the first attempt, you have to move onto stage two, which is to escalate the claim. 

This must be within 20 days of the initial claim. PayPal will then make a ruling itself and may fork out its own cash to cover it, though it stresses there are no guarantees.

As Samba Mobile processed all payments via PayPal and purchases wouldn't have cost more than £100, you're not able to use Chargeback or Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act to make a claim.

I topped up my credit and hadn't used it all. Can I get a refund?

Anyone with unused credit will be refunded via the PayPal account used to buy it by Thursday. Topped-up credit only lasted 28 days anyway.

I earned credit by watching ads. Will I get any money for this?

Samba Mobile customers could earn extra data by watching online adverts. It won't be paying out any refunds for this, and as it's now closed so you also won't be able to use the data.

I bought a dongle. Can I get a refund?

Samba Mobile says customers can't get a refund for the upfront cost of a dongle and that these will still work as long as you buy a Sim from a new provider to put in it.

However, as customers all paid via PayPal, you could try to claim from PayPal using the process detailed above.

Anyone who topped up their dongle with credit will be refunded via the PayPal account used to buy it by Thursday. Topped-up credit only lasted 28 days anyway.

Will I be paid commission for referring a friend?

Samba Mobile says it won't pay the commission of £2.50 for refer-a-friend sign-ups during April, as it is having to refund all customers who signed up during that month.

This commission was paid on a monthly basis, so anyone who referred a friend before April will already have been paid their commission.

Why is Samba Mobile closing?

The company isn't in administration, but says it is has taken the decision to close because it can't afford the rising cost of wholesale data, and hadn't been able to negotiate lower fees.

It says rising costs make "the current model of offering a meaningful value exchange of mobile broadband unsustainable".

"The data service will shut down with immediate effect; there is no guarantee we will be able to switch data back on unless negotiations with partners result in lower costs for Samba," it adds.

Further information can be found on the Samba Mobile website. No contact details have been given for customers, but it seems to be actively using its Facebook page.

Why did feature Samba Mobile? featured Samba Mobile's Sim deals a number of times in the past two years, as well as a dongle deal, because the offers were extremely competitive and the feedback for the firm was good.

The last deals we featured, in November and December last year, were for a £1 data Sim with 100MB. In July 2013, we also featured a separate deal for a £6 Sim with 1GB data for the first 30 days.

It's unfortunate Samba Mobile is closing, but the overall loss to customers is very small and users who bought a Sim before April 2014 should still have benefited from the initial data included on the Sim as well as any free data after this.