Sunday, July 27, 2008

Vote for Marco Zaldivar!

A few years ago, I wrote about my ideal cellphone specs. The list of requirements is still very true, except for a cheap data-plan and great battery life. The last requirement puts the latest iPhone or any 3G phone for that matter on the black list. This was especially so after watching Charlie Rose's discussion on the iPhone 3G.

Item 7 on my original list was "Free incoming SMS". I am not a frequent SMS'er. I can count the number of SMS messages I sent this year on two hands. I do receive tens of SMS messages per day, most of them from webservices. When our Salesforce email-to-case daemon acts up, I get an SMS message alerting me. When I need to attend a meeting, Google Calendar sends me an SMS. When an item on my todo list is due, RememberTheMilk sends me an SMS message. Luckily I am using an inflation protected cheapo plan from AT&T Wireless (now Cingular): it includes free incoming SMS messages.

When I heard from a friend using Virgin Mobile that he had to pay for incoming SMS messages, I couldn't believe it. That had to be illegal since you can not control receiving an SMS message. Every time you received a message, even if you did not open or read it, you are charged. So you might end up with a $500 cellphone bill for something you have no control over. You gotta be kidding. Sadly, no, he wasn't. Gotcha Capitalism!

Finally somebody is taking action against such practices. His name is Marco Zaldivar. Red Tape Chonicles' Bob Sullivan discusses the case in a recent blog post, "T-Mobile Sued over 'Mandatory' Text Fees".
T-Mobile USA, Inc., a subsidiary of Deutsche Telekom AG, lost an important ruling earlier this week when a U.S. District Court judge denied its motion to dismiss a lawsuit filed by a group of disgruntled T-Mobile subscribers, claiming the Bellevue-based company charges them -- and millions of T-Mobile customers -- for unsolicited text messages.
The article has a couple of great tips when it comes to handling text messages. The one about "premium text messages" caught my eye:
Even with an unlimited plan, you can still end up paying a lot for text messages – so-called “premium text messages” -- which can cost $1-$10 each. These are texts sent to or from special subscription services, like dating services. One consumer who wrote to Red Tape found himself on the long end of a $10,000 bill not long ago. Even if you use text messaging, you should consider calling your carrier and asking that premium texting be disabled.
Why would I ever want to give up my current cellphone plan? It is cheap, inflation-proof, free cellphone calls after 7PM (not after 9PM), free mobile-to-mobile and has free incoming SMS. If I ever decided to go for a data-enabled phone, I might just get a phone with only a dataplan and keep my current cellphone.

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