AT&T Idolises promotional texting
Spamming you say? How very dare you
US operator AT&T decided to let customers know about American Idol by sending a "significant number" of them a text message about it, without asking first.
The show is sponsored by AT&T, and was among the first in the US to screw more cash out of viewers by text voting, but until now it's not been promoted by text message, and viewers seem unimpressed by the move.
US mobile phone users generally pay to receive text messages (yes, hard to imagine from this side of the pond), and AT&T defended itself by saying that these messages were delivered free, but that's hardly an excuse for bothering people. The company also told the New York Times that their message can't be classed as spam on the grounds that customers could opt out of receiving future messages by replying with the word "stop" - clearly nothing resembling spam, then.
The economic downturn has seen all sorts of companies dusting off their mailing lists and trying different ways to get hold of customers. Here at Vulture Towers we've seen a marked increase in marketing messages from companies we've dealt with in the past, including some we've not heard from for years, but not by text message.
The use of text messages for promotional purposes is tightly controlled in the UK, though cost is still the most significant barrier to more use. Most of the text spam seen is sent from hacked servers operated by interconnected operators abroad, though the line between legitimate marketing and spam isn't always clear.
Operators themselves rarely stoop to such measures, for fear of exactly the kind of backlash that AT&T is now experiencing. ®
I've worked with these people...
I've worked and played with these people, I have a deep and considerate understanding of their thought processes.
The only solution is to CUT THEIR GOOLIES OFF.
No more problems.
re: is anyone else
"[H]ow do you justify being charged for something you have no control over?"
This is the US. Haven't you learned by now that the US government and powerful corporations (certain software companies, oil companies, telecom companies, banks / credit cards, etc) can do anything they want without having to justify it?
But if you want a serious answer, I'd say it's because people have no choice. It's either A) pay for every text message sent and received (either per-message, as a separately flat-rate monthly fee, or as part of your plan), or B) don't get a mobile phone. And with the alarming disappearance of pay phones, you pretty much need a mobile phone now, even if only for emergencies. Ten years ago it wasn't too bad for emergencies because you could get a plan for as low as $20/mn (granted, that was only for 20 minutes of talk time). Now the lowest plan I can find is at least $40/mn plus taxes and fees (this includes the pay-as-you-go plans I've seen which require you to purchase minutes, but then those minutes expire whether you use them or not). It's similar to why people stay with Comcast despite their illegalities and deception -- we have no choice if we want faster-than-dialup internet access (a lot of the US, even suburbia, doesn't have any form of DSL available yet).
But, back to your question -- "[H]ow do you justify being charged for something you have no control over?" I think the more important question -- in a different industry but the same principle -- is how can you justify being arrested and charged (in the legal sense) for something you have no control over (receiving an SMS of a (semi-)nude picture of a 15-17 year old)? Again, this is the US. Government and corporations don't need justification. They'll do whatever they want. After all, what are the sheeple really going to do -- wait for another election, vote the current idiots out, only to realize that most politicians are the same, that they don't care about their constituents, and only care about those who line their pockets?
But don't worry. With the way the US likes to push (read: force) it's ideas and laws onto other countries, the rest of you will probably adopt the same scheme(s) at some point in the not-too-distant future.
"The best suggestion I heard for dealing with cold callers"
I try to tick 'em off, or get them to cry.
My favorite is "You should become a (male)prostitute. At least then you'd get paid to please people, instead of what you are doing now, getting paid to irritate people" ... If it's a non-profit, I ask 'em why they are driving a third-hand 15 year old Escort, while their boss is driving a new Mercedes ... As long as you don't swear at them or call them names, they aren't supposed to hang up. Get creative! They telephoned you uninvited, you might as well have fun with them. Your phone, your rules, right? The more people who employ this tactic, the sooner the problem goes away.