November 23, 2013
AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile To End Unsolicited Messaging Service Fees
redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online
Three of the largest US wireless service providers have announced that they will no longer charge their customers for unsolicited texts sent from so-called premium messaging services.
According to Los Angeles Times reporter Salvador Rodriguez, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint have agreed to stop billing users up to $10 per month for programs that send out weather advisories, sports updates, ringtone download links and phone wallpapers – sometimes subscription based, but often without the customer’s permission.
The move comes following negotiations between the carriers and officials from 45 states, including Vermont Attorney General William Sorrell, to end the practice of mobile cramming – unauthorized third-party charges that appear on a customer’s mobile telephone bills. Sorrell made the announcement on Thursday in a statement that these carriers had agreed to stop charging users for these spam text messages.
“This is a victory for cell phone users in Vermont and across the nation,” Sorrell said, calling premium messaging services “a major contributor to the current mobile cramming problem. We are pleased that AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile have decided to stop the flow of money from the pockets of ordinary people to the bank accounts of scam artists. We’re hopeful the other carriers will soon follow their lead.”
Observant readers have probably noticed that Verizon, the largest mobile carrier in the US, is not listed among those companies who have decided to terminate these charges. That’s because they are planning to do away with their premium messaging business entirely – a decision made in the wake of “recent allegations that third parties have engaged in improper conduct in providing premium messaging services to our customers,” officials from the New Jersey company told Ricardo Bilton of The Verge on Friday.
Sorrell’s office said that the estimated cost of mobile and landline cramming is approximately $2 billion each year, and in May, a survey conducted by the attorney general reported that 60 percent of all third-party charges placed on the mobile phone bills of Vermont residents were unauthorized.
“The cost of these unwanted services are usually in the neighborhood of ten bucks a month and many people don't detect them,” Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson told Minnesota Public Radio’s Mark Zdechlik. “One study by the Federal Communications Commission said only one in 20 consumers who have a crammed charge on their phone bill even detect it.”