Friday, April 24, 2009

txt msg hell 2

     Well Company, for those of you who aren't familiar with me or the way I happen to be, I will tell you that I am not what you would call "with the times" when it comes to text messaging. I mean, I do it all the time, I send, I receive, I even use emoticons and all that jazz. But I am an old school, traditional kind of guy. All my text messages have proper grammar and punctuation with capital letters and the whole nine yards. 90% of them are even complete sentences. So I am sort of almost hip to the text message scene. But the one thing that I am lacking is an unlimited text message plan, which is exactly what Nick Andes and Doug Klinger of the Lancaster, Pennsylvania area have. Which is why it came as quite a surprise to Mr. Andes Candies when he received a roughly $26,000 phone bill from T-Mobile.
     So what exactly, would one have to do to receive a $26,000 bill for cellular phone service. What exactly causes an inches-thick itemized bill that costs $27.55 just to mail to appear in one's mailbox? How about 140,000 text messages. Nick and Doug have been texting each other since they met at Berks Technical Institute over ten years ago. It was this overly productive text message relationship that led them to the decision that they should be the world record holders for text messaging. So they went into the wild and wonderful world of the Internet and the largest number they could find was 182,000 text messages sent in one month in 2005 my a person in India. So the were able to figure out how to rig up their phones to send multiple messages at once and off they went. A test run in February taught them that they could send 6,000-7,000 messages in one day, so they decided that March would be the month that they set the record.
      And set the record they did. Sort of. But not really. See, Nick sent 140,000 messages give or take. And Doug sent maybe 70,000. I consulted Dr. Elizabeth Allman, Associate Professor of Mathematics at the University of Alaska at Fairbanks, and she was able to confirm that both of those totals are well below the 182,000 that Deepak Sharma sent in India way back in 2005. So how do they think that they are record holders? Well, they sent 217,000 messages between the two of them (I know, the math doesn't match up, but we are very much speaking in generalizations here. Dr. Allman already alerted me to that fact.) and should count for something, right?
     Well, the good people at the Guinness Book of World Records aren't sure yet. But T-Mobile is sure. They sent the bill for $26,000 to Nick for the 140,000 text messages, most of which were short, one word phrases like "lol" or "Hello." Not exactly $26,000 worth of conversation, now is it? Nick, as would be expected, flipped out and called T-Mobile. I would do the same thing if I had unlimited texting and I received a War and Peace-sized bill. T-Mobile, for their part apologized for the inconvenience and credited his account accordingly. Which is good because I highly doubt that oversized cardboard check for $26,000 that Mr. Andes cut to T-Mobile would have cashed. They are, of course, also investigating the charges.
     So what the moral here Big Dave, what have we learned? Well, first of all, your unlimited text plan might not be unlimited. So cool it with the texts to those teenagers you met at the mini-golf course. Second of all, if you have an error go ahead and call the company on it. In this case, T-Mobile probably could have collected and charged egregious misuse or something, but it was just easier to swallow the bill because of the public relations nightmare that it would have caused to charge the guy. Right? And for you and I it's such a small amount they'd be eating they are happy to keep you paying $75 per month for services that only cost them $23 to provide. So they will do an awful lot to keep you around, now won't they? Trust me, $50 per month adds up, not multiply that by how many million subscribers? Think about it. Or text about it. Then you are only 216,999 more away from the record.

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