Mobile Problems Customer or Network Responsibility?

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Mobile content consists of ring tones, logos, pictures, wallpapers and other content offered on web sites for download. Just surf the web and you will find many web sites offering services – some topic specific, other country specific.

Frequenting forums recently, I found disgruntled clients in South Africa that wanted to download mobile content, but the ring tone or logo failed to download. As a result the “networks” and Mobile phone companies are blamed for this failure of delivery.

The actual post I refer to started off with a warning about a scam where people received “Please call me” SMS. In response to the “please call me”, the customer was kept online having to answer senseless surveys with the call charges running up on their phone bills. The South African networks issued a warning against this scam that was doing the rounds.

Reading the posts I was quite astounded with the level of ignorance from the public side. Immediately legitimate SMS competitions (premium rated SMS) were drawn into the conversation with clear customer dissatisfaction being expressed. The following accusations were made in the particular post:

1. Networks were blamed for delivering the 072 “Please call me” SMS and supporting such practice.

2. Companies offering SMS competitions were blamed of not stating the cost per SMS clearly.

3. Mobile content companies were blamed for false advertising and clear anger was evident where customers submitted and paid for a download, but did not receive it.

Let’s take a look at this situation:

1. Networks being blamed for delivering “please call me” SMS:

For those that are not familiar with the “Please call me SMS” system here is a simple explanation. The system works on the old land line “collect call” basis where the mobile phone user send a SMS to someone they know to phone them. The person responding to the “Please call me” returns the call and foots the bill for the call.

I think the initial intention for the service was to render assistance to people that could not afford the call or run into trouble without prepaid airtime to phone for help in a crises situation. It was not long, however before the opportunity was grabbed by abusers of the system.

What the scammers do, is to send out “Please call me” SMS to random mobile phone numbers. The recipient unknowingly returns the call as they do think that it is from someone they know and requires assistance. The bad thing about the “Please call me” SMS is that the recipient has no way of knowing who sent the SMS as it does not support sender ID.

Upon answering the call, it turns out to be a call center doing a survey. The caller is kept online for as long as possible as each minute is charged to his/her phone bill at ridiculous rates – as much as ZAR 50-00 per minute. 10 Minutes online, results in ZAR 500-00 mobile phone bill of which the scammer in question get revenue share from the networks.

Issues at stake that we should question:


1. Working with the networks myself, I find it hard to believe that they will support such practice. Normally with any promotion the client has to state the nature of the promotion, as the Networks have to check whether or not the promotion is anti-sp@m policy compliant. Should the networks not investigate complaints like these and send out a Press release stating their position towards these sort of scams? Where are the network public relations officers?

2. Isn’t it the mobile phone user’s responsibility to NOT return any suspicious calls or SMS they receive?

3. Where does supplier responsibility end and customer responsibility start?

SMS warehouse is a division of E-SPECTATIONS.COM which has been involved in GSM technology since 2000.

Mobile Problems Customer or Network Responsibility?
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