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Communications

SMS Text Messaging & Youth Debt One 471

securitas writes "The New York Times' Lisa W. Foderaro reports on the impact of SMS text messaging and resulting debt on America's youth. The predictable but seldom-considered effect of the recently available technology combined with the social role instant messaging and SMS play are leading to bills that youth and parents alike can't afford. 'Many high school and college students accustomed to sending unlimited instant messages on their computers do not adapt easily to text messaging's pay-per-message format, and end up with unexpectedly high bills' ranging from $300 to $800 per month. One school principal says that 'many students were blindsided by costs associated with text-messaging and other features, like customized ring tones"
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SMS Text Messaging & Youth Debt One

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  • In the Philippines (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Pao|o ( 92817 )
    In the Philippines we've (kinda) solved this problem by having prepaid SIM cards. They make up the bulk of accounts in my country seeming most of population can only pay on a staggered/installment basis. Maybe America's youth should do the same.
    • by frisket ( 149522 )
      "Bills"? What bills fer fuxsake? Everywhere else in the world, kids cellphones are on a "pay as you go" basis, where you buy prepaid credit in any corner store. It's impossible for anyone under 18 and not in full-time employment to get a monthly-bill phone, for blindingly obvious reasons.

      Only complete and utter congential cretins like the US telcos would think of giving monthly billable credit to kids. Hardly surprising that the economy is falling to pieces along with the social structure :-)

      Will the last

      • They don't get monthly billable credit to kids. They can't legally enter the contract. Generally what happens is they whine at (see convince) their parents to add a line (costs about $10/mo (eur 7.67)) to the parents credit based plan,. They are given a firm lecture that they will have to pay for anything they use (except of couse free nights and weekends, and free mobile to mobile that is pretty standard on these plans) over some number of minutes. Of course most of the parents probably have no idea of t
      • Only complete and utter congential cretins like the US telcos would think of giving monthly billable credit to kids.

        They don't. Their parents have the cell phone account and supply phones to their kids. Stupid, I know. It's just like a kid running up a huge long distance bill on his parent's phone. Except that unlike my childhood they generally don't have to worry about dad beating their ass with a belt if it happens. A pity if you ask me.

        Hardly surprising that the economy is falling to pieces alon
      • > Only complete and utter congential cretins like
        > the US telcos would think of giving monthly
        > billable credit to kids.

        This phenomenon is neither new nor limited to the USA. Not long after my arrival here in Oz in mid-2002, I got the privilege of loaning my new teenage stepson some money to pay his mobile bill, most of which consisted of charges for text messages.

        (He did pay me back a month or two later, BTW.)
  • Responsibility (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AlexTheBeast ( 809587 ) on Sunday January 09, 2005 @10:19AM (#11303650)
    Wah, wah, wah.

    You could say the same thing for cell phones in general.

    I had to "work-off" my long distance phone bills in the BBS days...

    You set the limits as a parent... and if the kid goes over it, he/she pays.

    It's called growing up.

    • Re:Responsibility (Score:5, Insightful)

      by beagle ( 99378 ) on Sunday January 09, 2005 @10:43AM (#11303751)
      Yup. I mean - oh, the horror of learning that things in life really aren't free!

      This is a story?

      PS - there was an article in the local paper recently about how "the fees add up fast." Indeed they do, and this is why I don't have many of these monthly-fee services.
  • Shocking truth (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DaKritter ( 158840 ) on Sunday January 09, 2005 @10:23AM (#11303667)
    Commercial services may cost money!

    Shock horror.
    • Re:Shocking truth (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ahknight ( 128958 ) * on Sunday January 09, 2005 @10:40AM (#11303737)
      It's not even that, it's that they're using it wrong, too. For instance, with Sprint I can pay $10/mo. and get unlimited SMS messages. For $10. Screw this $800 crap, with just a little planning and a little forethought they wouldn't pay more than $60 a month for the whole package.

      It's just another sign that people are stupid.
    • The above post is modded insightful. Will I be modded insightful or funny for pointing out it should be modded funny and not insightful?
    • Re:Shocking truth (Score:4, Insightful)

      by penguinoid ( 724646 ) on Sunday January 09, 2005 @07:07PM (#11306240) Homepage Journal
      Commercial services may cost money!

      Wrong. Or did you mean to say, "Commercial services may be expensive." It may be splitting hairs, but sending SMS messages costs almost nothing but is grossly overpriced. For no reason other than that it is usefull enough that people will pay anyways. Ahh, the free market at its best!
  • by kraut ( 2788 ) on Sunday January 09, 2005 @10:26AM (#11303675)
    Pay as you go phones. Pay for the credit upfront, and when it's used up, you stop until you can buy more from your pocket money.

    • Services like these have popped up in Denmark during the last 5 or so years. They might have been there before, but I didn't pay much attention to cellphones until recently (only had one for about 18 months). The one I use is fairly cheap by Danish standards (0.80 DKK per minute, 0.20 DKK per SMS), so with my usage it comes to around 200 DKK (~35 USD) per 50 days.
    • That's not a solution. The solution is stop being fucking irresponsible.

    • Another even simpler solution: Don't have a mobile phone if you don't need one for work.
      • by Seumas ( 6865 ) on Sunday January 09, 2005 @02:45PM (#11304828)
        I'm 27 and I don't own a cell phone. I never have. I've only used one a few times. I'm a software engineer for a big corporation required to provide 24x7 responses. To that end, I wear a $10/mo company-paid two-way pager.

        Carrying a cell-phone around strikes me as needless baggage and excessive availability. I prefer not to have to be reachable by every human being on earth every moment of every day. I'd like to consider my time sipping a coffee and reading the paper in the local cafe on a Saturday morning as _my_ time. Nobody should ever need to reach me so urgently that I need to carry a device that would permit disruption of that.

        I understand why UPS drivers need a cell. I understand why cab-drivers need to. I can even understand why a CEO or an IT manager might. But beyond that, it's just a frivolous toy. Children managed to keep in touch with their parents and let them know where they were and what htey were doing for decades prior to this without posessing cell phones.

        If I had a child, I can't imagine them providing any viable excuse as to why I should purchase a cell phone for them and pay the bill. And as their parent, I would not let them get one and pay for it themselves for the simple fact that I want to avoid them putting themselves into debt before even seeking out college loans a few years down the road.

        Why six year olds and fifteen year olds are carrying them around like a house-key is beyond me.
        • by zakezuke ( 229119 ) on Sunday January 09, 2005 @04:42PM (#11305502)
          If I had a child, I can't imagine them providing any viable excuse as to why I should purchase a cell phone for them and pay the bill

          1. Payphones are not everywhere anymore. Even when I was in school there was only one payphone on campus for grades 7-12. Now there is none.
          2. Collect calls cost an arm and a leg. After getting a few "come pick me up" calls I was in awe.
          3. Calling cards don't always work in payphones.
          4. You can often get a family plan with unlimited airtime between family phones.
          5. Safety

          I'm not saying that getting a cellphone for a kid is the right choice. But there are good reasons why one may consider it. I went with a pre-paid phone for my nieces. "Come pick me up" cost 25-55cents and there was no chance in hell there would be a charge above and beyond what was pre-paid.
    • My kids have pay as you go phones. Their allowance includes an amount for telephone calls. We ask them to choose how much they pay towards their calls on the condition that they keep enough credit to always be able to call us (we return the calls).
    • The biggest problem with pay-as-you-go phones is that generally, you end up paying 2 to 3 times as much, sometimes more, for the same service that you could get with a plan. Also, most pay-as-you-go phones will only hold credit for one month, so most people (in my experience anyway) end up buying at least 1, sometimes 2 $50 cards a month, when they might as well just get more service with a plan and be careful to not go over their limits.
      I used to have a pay-as-you-go phone, and was spending about $50 a m
      • With Vodafone NZ, the credit lasts a year. So that's about US$10 a year to keep my phone active. I usually top mine up every few months, since I hardly ever make any out-going calls. Your cellphone networks sound pretty harsh.
  • In Sweden we pay between 0.60 kr - 1.50 kr per SMS ($US: 0.09 - 0.22) that would be roughly 15 SMS per hour if you pay $800 a month.
    • In Sweden we pay

      It seems like the whole world's checking in to report their mobile phone plans on this thread. I knew /. was international, but still fun to see how much so.

      Anyway, what I'm wondering is, what are the coverage areas of these plans in other parts of hte world? Do mobile plans in Europe work throughout the EU, for instance?

      I think my basic plan covers most of three medium sized U.S. states without any roaming fees, or I could pay something like an extra $20 a month for nationwide service.
      • What I found the strangest thing in the article,
        is that one has to pay for recieving messages.
        Here in Belgium, you only have to pay for sending, mostly about 0.13 (about $0.10 or less)
        It's not like you have to pay to recieve a phonecall or something, or am I mistaking?
        • Nope, you have to pay for receiving calls too, although you have the option to not answer if you don't recognize the incoming number, although that's not as much an option with SMS. (or any of the horrible bastardizations)

          From what I understand, this is quite backward from how the rest of the world does things. Land lines do have free incoming calls, but this is not the case with cellphones (mobiles)
          • I think it's mostly due to historical reasons. Before there were cellular phones, there was a mobile phone service that used VHF FM radio. The mobile phone subscriber paid the airtime charges on all calls, no matter who originated the call. It was an expensive service, so why should the wireline caller get stuck with the bill? The mobile phone subscriber had a normal telephone number. Instead of terminating at a telephone set, it terminated at a two-way radio base station. A radio operator at the base stati
          • From what I understand, this is quite backward from how the rest of the world does things. Land lines do have free incoming calls, but this is not the case with cellphones (mobiles)

            That's because the number system in Europe works different, AFAIK. Here cell phone networks have their own "area code". So if you call a number in Germany that starts with 015, 016 or 017, you know that you are calling a cell phone, which is more expensive. So the caller pays an extra charge, while in the US, where the caller
          • by wing03 ( 654457 ) on Sunday January 09, 2005 @02:53PM (#11304864)
            Pay to receive?

            So cell phone SPAM also incurrs a charge?

            Yeesh!

            We pay corporations to wear the clothes they make in sweat shops so we can display their logos.

            We get increases in ticket prices to go see movies which have become chock full of placed products that advertisers pay the studios to put in.

            Now, we pay the cell phone companies every time an advertiser sends us an SMS ad?!?!

            WTF?!?!

            Next time someone sings the praises of the capitalist free world, I'll be sure to shovel all that back to them and remind them how great it is that big business can freely make us pay through our noses!
      • most of them, yes. the roaming works practically everywhere where gsm is availiable.

        but (at least for all german plans) you have to pay for receiving calls if you are in an other country.
  • News! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Erwos ( 553607 ) on Sunday January 09, 2005 @10:30AM (#11303694)
    People make stupid financial decisions! Story at 11!

    There's really no excuse for this kind of thing except sheer stupidity. I know that Sprint allows unlimited incoming/outgoing SMS messages for $10 a month. This is really no different than a kid running up their parent's credit card a buck a shot to $400, when you get down to it.

    As for me, I can't really even imagine sending and receiving 300 SMS messages a month, let alone the 3000 that these kids seem to handle with ease. Maybe I could do it with a Sidekick, but damn, not with a regular cell phone.

    Stupid semi-OT question: does anyone have any experience with buying a T608 on eBay and getting Sprint to set it up to work with the network? Any experiences on how good a phone it is in general?

    -Erwos
  • by da3dAlus ( 20553 ) <[dustin.grau] [at] [gmail.com]> on Sunday January 09, 2005 @10:30AM (#11303697) Homepage Journal
    Makes me think of this one: "Economic Woes and Dismal Math/Science Scores: Related Deficits?" [go.com]
    To be blunt, it really makes me think that most of America's youth is too stupid to know that X messages @ $0.yy ea = $lots'ocash.
    • To be blunt, it really makes me think that most of America's youth is too stupid to know that X messages @ $0.yy ea = $lots'ocash.

      Why are you limiting it to youth? How many older adults do you know that don't have any clue what they are paying for their vehicle?

      Its as simple as:

      down_payment + monthly_payment x months = total_payment[1]

      This requires nothing more than addition and multiplication. Yet most adults don't appear to realize that their $20k new car cost them a lot more than $20k af

  • by MPHellwig ( 847067 ) * <mhellwig@xs4all.nl> on Sunday January 09, 2005 @10:33AM (#11303708) Homepage
    So , if understand this correctly,in the US you have to pay for sms you send and recieve,even without knowing that you wanted to recieve that message?
    Do you guys also have to pay for recieving post (with a stamp)?

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 09, 2005 @10:41AM (#11303741)
      Recieving mail is free. Most cell phone plans, recieving text messages is free, sending costs. However, kids will use them at school like IM clients, so they can talk to their friends without the teacher noticing (I'm in High School, I see it a lot). They'll hold the cell phone under the desk, and talk back and forth. Having gotten used to IM responses, short messages are used. $0.10 for "LOL" is excessive in my mind, but they don't seem to realize it (until they get the bill!)
      • Schools seem to me to be the perfect place to position cellphone blockers or picocells that shut out phones that aren't authorized.

        Unlike that poor kid in my math class who carried a pager cuz his mom was hovering on deaths door, I surely didn't need to carry a cellphone back then.

    • So , if understand this correctly,in the US you have to pay for sms you send and recieve,even without knowing that you wanted to recieve that message?

      It probably varies by provider, but Verizon charges for incoming and outgoing messages.

      Solution - block text messaging - that way none get through.
    • by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Sunday January 09, 2005 @01:09PM (#11304351) Homepage
      So , if understand this correctly,in the US you have to pay for sms you send and recieve,even without knowing that you wanted to recieve that message?


      It's not just the US. Here in Canada it's the same. My carrier once decided to give me a 'free' trial of the service (no subscription fee, still pay to receive). I found out I was getting it when I got two spam text-messages. Then I got charged for receiving the text messages I didn't want. That was why I hadn't ordered the service in the first place.

      It's in the carriers interest to have you use the service if they get to charge you the fees for receiving the messages.

      I've never been happy with a model where someone I don't know or want to communicate with gets to cost me money. That's like collect calls from telemarketers.

      Do you guys also have to pay for recieving post (with a stamp)?


      Shh. They're listening and might think that's a good idea. :-P

    • In the U.S. we pay for anything that companies think they can get away with charging us. This is especially true for any company that locks us into a contract such as cell phone carriers. If you are one day late on a bill on your credit card: $30. You want to upgrade from a TDMA phone to a GSM one at Cingular? $17.

      There are a few companies that make money by providing excellent service and complete on that basis (kudos to National City Bank and their free checking and free quicken downloads!) but the va

  • Prepaid cards (Score:2, Informative)

    by zyxmaw ( 660564 )
    In Norway (and most of Europe I think), you can buy SIM cards that you need to "fill up". You buy a reg.code worth maybe $15, you call a (free) number and dial in the reg.code. You can then call/text for $15 before you need to fill up again. The reg.codes are available everywhere. It works great. If you dont have money, you cant call/text (except to 911/112).

    Did that make any sense at all?
  • In France (Score:2, Funny)

    by TheStick ( 847894 )
    In Europe, an SMS costs approximately 10 cts. Kids send about 10-15 messages a day. And love downloading crappy 3 ringtones. A real song costs 1. You don't need to be Einstein to realise how expensive it gets. Where's the problem?! The cost of these thingies. It has a minimal(non-existant?) cost for the operator, but they make you pay a fortune for 'em. Many associations pointed this out, but hey, it's easy money. Kids aren't to blame.
    • Re:In France (Score:3, Informative)

      by imroy ( 755 )

      From what I understand, the problem is that the cost of SMS messaging adds up faster than you realize. Imagine you have a friend that works nearby and you want to ask them if they want to have lunch together:

      X: hi, it's

      X here.
      Y: hi. how are you?
      X: good. hey, you wanna meet up for lunch?
      Y: sure. at the XYZ foodcourt?
      X: no, i'm getting sick of that. how about the park?
      Y: ok then. what time? 12:30?
      X: sure, see you there
      Y: bye!

      Now, if that was a normal voice call, that conversation will take all

      • Re:In France (Score:2, Informative)

        by Perky_Goth ( 594327 )
        X:"Hey free for lunch? I'm out at 12:00, and i was thinking of going to Wherever"
        Y:"well, maybe at 12:30. may we just go to OtherPlace instead?"
        X gives a one tone ring to acknowledge.

        there, two messages. wow, that was hard!!!
    • Kids aren't to blame.
      I agree. Parents who buy these phones for their kids are to blame.
  • 500 SMS free on my $29.99 acct.
    Free Unlimited MMS on my $29.99 acct.

  • by Kaimelar ( 121741 ) on Sunday January 09, 2005 @10:44AM (#11303752) Homepage
    . . . with all that whine? Seriously, I can only have so much sympathy for anyone who signs a contract with the costs spelled out clearly and then is unprepared when they are expected to pay those costs.

    And I believe today's User Friendly comic is apropos: http://ars.userfriendly.org/cartoons/?id=20050109 [userfriendly.org]

  • Answers (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 09, 2005 @10:47AM (#11303770)
    Here are the answers to most of the questions on this thread:

    - Yes, most carriers charge you to receive SMS here in the U.S. If you use SMS a lot you should get unlimited SMS. It is usually an extra $10.

    - Yes, you can buy prepaid SIM cards here, or have prepaid accounts. This solves the entire problem, but if mentioned it would not allow us to whine about the "corporations".

    - Yes, young adults send a lot of SMS messages. Europeans send a hell of a lot more than Americans do. Vodafone says SMS+ringtones makes up 40% of their business in the EU. FORTY PERCENT. This just proves that both the EU and the USA are filled with stupid people with too much money.

    - Yes, typing a message with T9 on a keypad can be tough, but people like it. It is not "better to just call them up". SMS's are silent and can be made discreetly (not discretely kiddies).
    • Yes, most carriers charge you to receive SMS here in the U.S.

      This is actually one of the reasons I refuse to get a cell phone. I'm not signing an agreement where I have limited control over what I'm going to be paying.
    • No, they can be made discretely too - you don't have to send all of your messages at once. :-)
    • again, I don't know of any carriers in my area(NE Ohio) that charge to RECEIVE SMS. Charges at all the carriers are only to send. So your statement that "most" charge to receive is false, as I don't know a single one that does. Sending them can rack up your bill pretty quick though.
  • ...that isn't a prepay phone? Virgin Mobile and other companies make phones that require you to buy a $20 prepaid card at your local grocery store ahead of time. This makes it easy to meter your cell phone usage and prevents this kind of insanity. Great for adults, too.

    Oh, and maybe not giving them a cell at all would work, too.
  • People are stupid (Score:4, Insightful)

    by BenjyD ( 316700 ) on Sunday January 09, 2005 @10:49AM (#11303773)
    Isn't this just more evidence that most people are a bit daft when it comes to money? If they're not actually paying for it there and then with cash, most people find it hard to think of it as real money.

    It's just like those idiots who get the cheap introductory offers from companies like 3 and think "ooh, I'm getting a good deal" , but don't look up how much the normal monthly tariff is. It often doubles from £15 to £30 after three months or something, with a one year minimum.
  • Ridiculous pricing (Score:5, Informative)

    by Mike Schiraldi ( 18296 ) on Sunday January 09, 2005 @10:56AM (#11303798) Homepage Journal
    While the blame lies with the kids and their parents for not reading the details of the plans they sign up for, i have a lot of sympathy for them: it's not intuitive that ringtones and SMS messages would be so expensive since they feel like things that should cost next to nothing.

    In other words, when i found out i could download AIM for my phone, i initially assumed the price must be something reasonable, since as a programmer i know that an SMS message probably take up the bandwidth equivalent of a few seconds of voice call, and voice calls cost about $0.0022 cents per second.

    Luckily before i started using it i found out that each IM (note: i didn't say "each IM session") costs 10 cents. Yikes!

    It's sort of like a hotel mini-bar. When a naive person first comes across one, they think, "Oh, i could go for a soda. That costs about 89 cents, so i'm sure with a hotel markup, it'll be like $1.50 or $2." Then they find out the mini-bar price is $5. It's their own fault, but it's understandable since one doesn't expect such a large markup.

    The question is, since we live in a land of capitalism and the cell phone market has tremendous competition, why hasn't the price of SMS messaging dropped? For that matter, why hasn't the price of mini-bar food dropped?
    • by HeghmoH ( 13204 ) on Sunday January 09, 2005 @11:05AM (#11303840) Homepage Journal
      I asked basically the same question on slashdot a while ago, and got an interesting response. Of course I can't find the post now, so I'll have to go by memory.

      Basically, when the GSM standard was first created, SMS messages weren't thought about too much. They were shoved into some teeny little side band that was used for low-bandwidth control information or something along those lines. The designers didn't forsee the incredible popularity that SMS would have in the future. The end result is that even though SMS messages are incredibly low bandwidth, and there is a ton of bandwidth floating around, they can't use it because they're restricted to this tiny piece of the spectrum. That's not to say that the price isn't also due to some nice gouging on the part of the companies, but there are good technical reasons for a minute of relatively high-bandwidth voice to cost less than an SMS.

      This is pure speculation on my part, but this may also by why MMS often costs less than SMS even though they usually contain a lot more data.
      • by Graymalkin ( 13732 ) * on Sunday January 09, 2005 @02:13PM (#11304635)
        Many providers, including T-Mobile and AT&T/Cingular in the US, have moved to SMS over GPRS. Most if not all handsets sold now also support SMS over GPRS which has much more bandwidth available than traditional GSM messaging channels. SMS messages are sent via GPRS like any other bit of data. There's little reason for GSM carriers to charge obscene amounts of money for messaging (other than to rip us off).
    • It's sort of like a hotel mini-bar. When a naive person first comes across one, they think, "Oh, i could go for a soda. That costs about 89 cents, so i'm sure with a hotel markup, it'll be like $1.50 or $2." Then they find out the mini-bar price is $5. It's their own fault, but it's understandable since one doesn't expect such a large markup.

      A lot of that confusion stems from the fact that most people have come to expext cost-plus pricing - but that doesn't maximize profits. Marketing approaches such as


  • The cell companies just haven't jumped on the "everything is free" bandwagon that made the Internet so profitable yet.

    And who-the-f*ck is stupid enough to subscribe to "custom ring tones"?
    • Man you don't go out much do you?

      Everyone has custom ring tones these days. Sitting on the buss you can hear everything from techno to country being played through the tiny 1" or smaller speaker when someone's phone rings.

      You know fsck this PC business, cell phones are where the money is at.
    • Its a needed bit of individuality. When you have 20 people in an office all with their own mobiles, it kind of useful to know whose is whose. Of course, the considerate people have the volume turned down and the handset stuck in a pocket on vibrate mode.
  • This mobile phone stuff is the same kind of problem as folks who get in too deep with credit cards. It's easy to think "it's their problem and they're idiots for not recognizing that products and services co$t!" Unfortunately, the end result is often higher costs for everyone. When individuals default on loans, rates for the rest go up. The US government seems to ascribe to the culture of living beyond its means too. Usery is alive and well and sometimes awefully hard to discern.
  • here's few links:
    for MSN Messenger [getjar.com]
    for ICQ [icq.com]
    for IRC [sourceforge.net]

    using GPRS isn't free either, but it's still cheaper compared to sending same amount of text over SMS
  • Welcome to 2001... the rest of the developed world has been noticing this for several years now...
  • Unqualified (Score:3, Interesting)

    by droleary ( 47999 ) on Sunday January 09, 2005 @11:03AM (#11303829) Homepage

    One school principal says that 'many students were blindsided by costs associated with text-messaging and other features, like customized ring tones'

    Wow, what a frank admission by one Mr. Kevin Truitt that he isn't properly teaching kids to grow up in today's society. How hard is it to get a math problem reworded to make such costs more obvious? "Little Billy sends Suzie 8 eight SMS a day at 12 cents each . . ."

    • Of course, the full paragraph that line comes from is:

      School officials also know firsthand the widespread financial duress caused by cellphones. At Mission High School in San Francisco,

      where three-quarters of the 975 students qualify for free or reduced-price lunches, the principal, Kevin Truitt, says that many students were blindsided by costs associated with text-messaging and other features, like customized ring tones.

      In other words, 3/4ths of the students and parents at this school can't feed themse

  • by t_allardyce ( 48447 ) on Sunday January 09, 2005 @11:24AM (#11303903) Journal
    I dream to see an advert like this:

    "Hello, im John Smith head of the ACME network. Do you know how much we in the mobile phone industry like to rip you off? our profit margins go as high as %100,000 and we all work together to keep it that way. But at ACME we've decided to rebel, starting today we're embarking on a vicious price war with our competitors, we'll give you a no-contract pay-as-you-go network with absolutely free SMS messages any time and any place, no matter where you go in the world they'll still be free and unlimited and right now our competitors are all having heart attacks. How do we do this and still charge your calls at reasonable prices? simple, it costs us almost nothing to route your messages and we figured we would steal 95% of our competitors customers in just one week. So fuck you Orange, T-Mobile, O2, Vodaphone, Virgin, 3, and all the others, we're just about to screw your cash cow in the arse" (does hand gesture) "SUCK IT"
  • SMS is a general pain in more ways than one:

    * Even with predictive entry or whatnot, a TouchTone keypad is designed for inputting numbers, NOT letters, except as a shortcut for numberas as in "KLonkike 5-0123" (generic number in the fictional number space, represented with exchange-name mnemonic) or "1-800-MYAPPLE" (Apple Computer). We're starting to see some devicess with the QWERTY keyboard, which is significantly more efficient for typing.

    * High rates -- it's a dime to send even if you have free recep
  • Unlimited Sprint "Vision" (PCS 2.5G Internet) is $15:mo. The SMS profiteering will drive kids (and other poor SMS users) into IM clients like Jabber for the cheap flat rate, keep them there for the cross-platform (other carriers, other IM networks) messaging, and leave them ready to switch their entire phone service to VoIP when the EV-DO (and competing) 3G networks offer reliable >128Kbps nationwide this year. As email replaced so much phone/voicemail, so will VoIP/IM replace circuit-calls/SMS. I person
  • 'Blindsided'?

    Now I may not like the providers very much, but they are definently up front about the costs. I used to download ringtones occasionally and was always told very explicitly something along the lines of 'This ringtone will cost you x dollars to download, press here to proceed'. I think the real problem here is idiot kids that can't restrain themselves.

    'OMG! Christina Augilera is the new Britney Spears, i *so* need her ringtones'.
  • To all of you who missed the point of this article and why it's interesting to /. readers ...

    It's amazing that kids in High School are not aware enough of costs and fees of their own cell phones to be able to manage it.

    When I was that age I had a job, was buying most of my own clothes, knew how much gas cost because my dad made me fill up the car if I borrowed it, and saved up for stuff that I really wanted.

    Now these kids don't even know what the services on their phones cost. This is not a good thi

  • Not a whole lot different than when I was 13, had a 300 baud modem, and Quantumn Link charged by the minute. I think all those SIDs I downloaded STILL cost moer than a track from the iTunes Music Store!

    Took me a while to pay off that first month!
  • Cingular brochure... (Score:3, Informative)

    by singularity ( 2031 ) * <{nowalmart} {at} {gmail.com}> on Sunday January 09, 2005 @01:00PM (#11304328) Homepage Journal
    I am currently in the market to switch cell phone providers. I am a person who will go over the terms and conditions with a fine tooth comb.

    On Cingular's brochure, it had details about the text messaging service. Without a plan, each message SENT OR RECEIVED would cost $.10. You could turn off text messaging, but Cingular would be unable to guarantee that you would not receive any incoming messages.

    Huh? I would turn it off, saying I do not want any, and Cingular would still charge me ten cents if they were unable to block an incoming message? How in the hell?

    Text messaging seems cool to me, but the outrageous prices here in the U.S. make it unreasonable. Make it $2 for unlimited and I would be interested.

    [Note: I tried to find the same paragraph on Cingular's site but they say to the see the appropriate brochure for terms and conditions of featured services like text messaging.]
  • that the silver lining of this cloud is that Pay Per Message keeps junk messages off the air.
    If I screw up IM for a minute [like rebooting the firewall] my highschool student stomps up the stairs whining and fuming. I'm just lucky that we set the phone policy as a condition of even getting cell phones: go over the base plan charges by a more than a few bucks and hand over the phone for the month...he uses his unlimited minutes all up in the first 3 weeks of the month and uses text messaging only in circ
  • People have a feeling it is their god given right to do things without first reading the contract, fine print, instruction manual, memo etc. I see it at the lab bench with experiment protocols, I see it in software use, and it seems to be a re-occuring theme in american culture. I don't see any problem here, 10 minutes spent reading their contracts would have saved them 30-80 hours of labour at $10/ hour to pay of the bill. One can find, for 10 dollars, unlimted text messeging.
  • In the article they are quoting spokesman for Cingular Wireless, basically saying "tough luck!". What he fails to mention is a ridiculous Cingular policy of charging user for incoming SMS messages! If you are a Cingular customer, I can rob you of 10 cents, just sending you text message. On the other hand, AT&T Wireless always had free incoming SMS, which makes perfect sense to me. I wonder, what pricing policy new joint Cingular/AT&T plans will follow.
  • Maybe they should buy a device aimed at the youth market [danger.com] and priced to match [t-mobile.com]? You get unlimited SMS, unlimited messaging (via AOL Instant Messenger), unlimited E-mail, plus a voice plan, starting at around $30/month. Anything else is just a rip-off.

"Gotcha, you snot-necked weenies!" -- Post Bros. Comics

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