But waiter, please, I did not order this (SMS)...

Now, this has been puzzling me for years: the US carrier policy (I am not sure how many still do it) of charging the recipient of a text message for that message. How odd is that? You sit in a restaurant, the waiter brings you a bottle of wine that you did not order. You do not drink the wine (because you did not order it and you do not like wine) but you are being charged nonetheless. There is even a bolder version of this: the same waiter works for a winery, and they send you that bottle as a marketing trick, say to lure you into booking travel to the Loire wine region. Yet again: you did not order it, you did not drink it, they charge you. No, you say, this is surely not possible. And I agree.

However, the US arm of T-Mobile (and I am sure others before them) is doing just that: if users that do not hold a special data plan (something like a don't-pay-for-wine-you-did-not-order-plan) are being charged for every SMS they receive, be it your teenage son telling you that he didn't make it [home/to school/to your appointment 3 hours ago], be it your partner announcing that he/she is on the tube and will be home in 10 minutes or be it the tourism authority of the Loire region working hard on improving travel to their area - you pay.

This now seems to backfire as there has been a class action filed against T-Mobile US seeking redress for exactly that. According to the report about it, "the plaintiffs allege T-Mobile USA’s texting policy violates federal telecom law and Washington state’s consumer protection-unfair business practices act" but, quite frankly, I would have thought it would also violate a string of other, more mundane laws about contracts and invalidity of coercive business practices, etc. Unfortunately for all of us who like to drool over those incredible sums in US law suits, "the suit did not contain a dollar figure for alleged damages."

It is about time that this stops: it estranges your customers, it provides for horrendous customer experience, and, really they shouldn't say they didn't see it coming...


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