Yesterday, early in the morning (11.42 to be exact), I was awaken by a text message received on my phone. Yes, spam does not only exist for emails, it has its mobile phone counterpart (and it will be funny when we all have internet instant messaging on our phones, mixing the best and worst of both worlds, won't it ?).

Now, the big problem everybody knows with text messages, compared to, say, emails or proper instant messaging, is that you get charged to send texts. And of course, your text messages are limited in size, so that you have to send (and pay for) several messages to say what you want, unless you are ready to sacrifice the language you are using and end up using only words of up to 3 letters... I don't know the effects this has on the English language, but in French, some teenagers mainly write in that style, and don't know how to write french properly anymore...

Hum, I'm getting off topic here; what I wanted to say is that, yesterday morning, I discovered another big (maybe worse) drawback of this "technology":

You are
subscribed to
the MobyMagic
content club for
£4.50 per week
until you send
STOP to 84010.
Message center:

That's a nice way to wake up. I was a bit surprised since I never contacted that company. Not *that* surprised though, since I think it's not the first time I have received spam on my mobile phone.

What is new and makes me love technology, is that, upon reception of that message,  I  discovered that my tesco mobile  top-up account actually lost £4.50.

That is what I didn't know about the wonderful text messages techonology:

You can get charged for messages you receive, even unsolicited ones !

In the following 1/2 hour, I received two other text messages from the same origin, telling me how cool their wap site is (I'll have to believe them, since my phone doesn't support wap). Each of these messages cost me about £1...

I have emailed tesco mobile customers service about this, and blocked that number from my phone (well, I think it's blocked, the interface of my phone isn't very explicit on that...). Even though it was a Saturday, I got an answer today (sunday), telling me I wasn't the only one in that case, and that £4.50 was put back on my account (therefore, I still have about £2 gone to MobyMagic...). I've just emailed them back, and I'll see what they do.

I wonder how many people got a similar message, and what percentage just didn't care, not realising they actually lost money. I guess the guys behind that company are already somewhere far away with the money they made... [Note: tesco has recredited £4.50 on my account, but they told me: "Tesco Mobile will be contacting this company to recoup the costs and  
enquire why these messages have been sent out without a valid request." This makes me think that company may actually have these £4.50, and if they disappear quickly on a remote island, Tesco will never get that money back from them]

Update: Tesco has credited another £1.50 on my account on Tuesday.

1 Comment

From: thomash
2007-03-19 00:26:11

Well... less annoying but still annoying: in Norway, lists of phone numbers (including yours, of course) are sold by your operator to other companies, unless you *explicitly* ask for the contrary. So, this time, no "Enl*rge your P*enis" mail spam, but nice spam-phoners interested in talking about your favorite type of car, or convinced that your kitchen is really too old... Believe me, that sucks too!

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18 March 2007