Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Text Spam: Phone company text messaging must die

I don't like paying $20/month for our AT&T unlimited texting family plan. After all, it costs AT&T next to nothing to provide SMS services.

I pay because the current IM alternatives don't work. That leaves texting as the polite alternative to the unscheduled phone call. I pay because what I get is worth more than the money I pay.

Or, rather, it was worth more. It's worth less all the time, because I'm getting more text spam like these 595-959 Welcome to Sears/Kmart Shop Your Way Rewards Text Alrts (yeah, "Alrts") ...

Unlike "full number" text spam, AT&T won't accept reports for these...

Instead, AT&T markets "short code" text message services. They charge spammers to spam us, and, I assume, they charge us to receive the spam. Talk about a win-win!

You could try completing the FTC's spam report form for wireless phones, but as of today it's not designed for text message reporting. It's as though the FTC got caught in a time warp @ 2002.

This is only going to get worse. There are now two phone companies in America, and they hate us almost as much as we hate them. They hate us so much they'll drive us to abandon their most profitable service.

We need an alternative to phone company controlled text messages. We need a messaging service that includes spam filtering -- and that doesn't make us sitting ducks for low grade spam. Blackberry did this years ago; maybe when RIM dies in 2013 either Apple or Google will buy their texting service -- and give us something worth paying for. Maybe California will ban text spam and end our spam as a side-effect. Maybe all of the above.

There's an opening here. Help me out Apple, Google, and California!


Anonymous said...

It seems that the problem here is not a lack of alternatives: most smart phones have integrated email, chat, etc.

The difficulty is that you can't opt out of text messages. If you get a plan without text messages included, they merely charge you 20 cents per message rather than blocking them.

JGF said...

Email and chat aren't alternatives to texting. Instant Messaging is, but it doesn't work very well. I gave up after a strenuous effort

I agree the inability to opt out of texting is outrageous. I had that in a draft of my post but decided to focus on one outrage at a time.

Apple or Android could introduce spam filtering and message blocking at the client level -- such as block all "short code" messages. That would be a real battle of wills since it would reduce mobile revenue for both Apple/Android and AT&T/Verizon. (Short codes would become worth less, so corporations would pay less to use them, hence less revenue.)

Anonymous said...

Hmm. I read your post about IM and I understand the connection problems you were having. I still don't quite understand why email isn't a potential substitute.

As to blocking spam messages, there are SMS client replacements in the Android Market and some of them allow filtering. Here is one example:

I'm not sure if such a thing is allowed in the Apple store. And you will presumably get charged for them even if you filter them unless you have unlimited texting.

JGF said...

Handcent is an example of where Android beats iPhone. It can substitute for the native client.

That can't be done on the iPhone. Native is all you get.

Anonymous said...

Hi, I just stumble to your blog and saw your post. Looks like you have an iPhone as I do. So you wanted NO text message service for your iPhone? If you're with AT&T your wish can come true.

I didn't know AT&T have this "Text Message Opt-out" option until my friend told me one day that she can't send or receive any text message because she asked AT&T to disable it. (I was with T-Mobile at the time and T-Mobile told me it's impossible for them to disable text message service... what a bunch of bull crap!)

So yesterday I went to AT&T store and I asked one of their staff to disable ALL my text message service. It only took them a few seconds in front of their PC, and they seems to glad to do it for me, no questions asked. Now I am restrict to send or receive text messages through my ATT service. Sweet!

Now I can just use my Google Voice number to send out/receive free SMS, or use my TextFree app on my iPhone to do free texting -- if occasion calls for it, LOL. No more spam SMS that I have to pay, even it only cause me a few dollars per month.

Raymond McNeel said...

I have this problem on my Blackberry Torch from ATT. Are you saying BB has a way to solve this?