Sunday, April 15, 2012

Crammed: Mblox $9.99 a month

I've been expecting this; I'm just surprised it took this long. There was a wee note on my online statement "AT&T monthly subscriptions" "billed usage" - $9.99 for Mblox $9.99 subscription:IQ31CALL8668611606 (BuneUS). (BuneUS is a popular scam, I wonder if my 15 yo unwittingly replied to the scam text.)

I've been crammed. As if AT&T's text spam weren't enough.

I called and, of course, AT&T will reverse the charge. It's the same way they manage text spam -- if you call in the charges will be reversed. Takes a bit of time, but AT&T will happily do it. If you don't call, AT&T will happily keep their profit.

That's not why I'm posting about this though. We don't need another reason to hate AT&T, we hates 'em well enough already.

I'm writing because, unlike texting, there's a fix for cramming. I've not seen it before, but I'm not sure it's new.

AT&T has a free "parental controls purchase blocker". It requires a phone call -- they don't want to make this too easy. I phoned and had all of our family plan numbers blocked -- this blocks ring tones, AT&T product purchases, cramming purchases -- everything. AT&T did insist on sending me a PIN I could use to buy ring tones -- even though I didn't want it.

It's something we should all do. On your mobile dial 611, wade through some voice mail, and ask the rep to block it all on all lines.

See also:

Update: Since posting this I've gotten several reports of cramming associated with text spam. The NYT article from 4/8/12 matches my experience ...

Cellphone Cramming Gets a Second Look -

.. Both AT&T and Verizon deflected any talk of financial upsides of this whole SMS arrangement, but it’s generally understood that roughly one-third to half of the revenue generated by third-party providers goes to carriers. Which leads the Haggler to believe that if the SMS system were set up by a disinterested party, rather than one that is sharing the profit, it would look much more consumer-friendly.

AND now some odds and ends as we wrap up our two-part episode on cramming: The Haggler asked the Federal Communications Commission to explain what’s so hard about cracking down on this con — but received a response so anodyne and unilluminating that, as an act of mercy to both readers and the F.C.C. it won’t be excerpted here. AT&T and Verizon both said that they would block all third-party charges for any customer who calls and requests such a block, at no charge. If you’ve been crammed by Wise Media and want to complain, you can do so through the Georgia governor’s Office of Consumer Protection, at Tell ‘em the Haggler sent you.

AT&T, meantime, said it would not allow Wise Media to sell any “new content” to consumers, which means that if you signed up for HoroscopeGenie, rest assured that you’ll continue to get it. And if you didn’t sign up for HoroscopeGenie, but are currently getting it anyway, fret not — it’ll keep coming.

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