WIN Plc and the 72 £1.50 text message bomb

Back in 2006, a MIR reader’s daughter got a text message.

And another. And another. And woosh. Across what appeared to be a few minutes, she was text-bombed.

Whether by mistake or by design, she ended up with a heck of a lot of premium rate texts being delivered to her handset. The reader describes it thus:

The 72 unsolicited reverse SMS texts were sent at two second intervals, my daughter was on a trip in her car, when her phone ‘in box’ filled up, she deleted the total content, when it filled up again in the blink of an eye, she again deleted the whole lot, and to this day, we have no idea what the content actually contained.

WIN (as the aggregator in question providing the connectivity for another company who originated the texts) refunded this amount after the reader complained.

All is well, yes?

Well not quite. The reader is — rightly — appalled by the matter. He, I suspect, is thinking that the mobile industry is a normal industry. It’s regulated after all. Right? So this sort of thing shouldn’t keep happening. Right?

Whilst there’s no current complaint, the reader’s astonishment, shock and bewilderment in dealing with both WIN, Ofcom and PhonePayPlus was one I wanted to highlight.

I don’t think he understands how this sort of thing was allowed to go on. And, in many cases… still does continue, only in different ways.

It’s a sad state of affairs when my response to the reader is thus: I’m pleased you got your money back. Let’s move on.

What else can you say?

It’s a seedy industry. It’s roots are seedy. Only a percentage play fair.

It’s a lot better than it used to be, here in the UK.

But there’s still a huge issue between the aggregator supplying the connectivity — and the client companies they work with abusing the aggregator’s connections, often resulting in fines.

What can you do?

Be responsible.

Yes and no. The aggregator viewpoint is simple: They can’t monitor every message. They can’t check every single new service launched. They don’t have the resources. Or they choose not to have the resources.

It’s cheaper to pay the fines, refund the complaints and skim where possible.

It’s all changing though — as premium text message begins to wane in popularity, we’ll begin to free ourselves collectively from the menace that is the premium rate scammers.

Once you get to the likes of the Apple iTunes App Store, the opportunity for scamming seriously diminishes.

Ah dear.

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