Virtual Karma

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

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What Cingular Did Not Tell You About International Text Messaging

Recently I switched from Sprint to Cingular because the later has GSM network and hence GSM enabled phones (I got the W600 from Sony Ericsson). Now when I travel abroad I can continue to use my phone. All I need to do is buy a pre-paid SIM card of any local service provider over the counter and slip it in. This works out much cheaper than using the roaming feature.

Cingular offers international text messaging for 20 cents a pop. Personally I feel that this is very expensive compared to what I have paid in other countries. But still I decided to try it out. So I sent a text message to my friend in Asia and asked her to reply back so that I have a confirmation. Here is her reply: “got ur sms frm a local no, got confusd”. I tried sending another message and again it was delivered from a local number. Every time it is a different local number. So I called up Cingular today morning and they confirmed that the messages are sent from a local number in the receiver’s country. I asked them if they state this fact along side their advertisements of international text messaging service. They said that they do not. I checked out their website and could not find any information of text messages being sent from a different number other than the subscriber’s.

The above problem is bigger that it sounds. You, me and any other person I have met hits the reply button to reply to a text message. In the scenario above this would send the message to a non existing local number and you won’t receive the reply. Also since the messages are delivered using a different local number each time, you cannot hold a conversation using text messages (many phone allow “conversations” using text messages). And one more thing, be sure to sign off all your messages with your name, else the receiver wont know who it is from.

This post is to inform the readers of a problem with international text messaging using Cingular. This post should not be interpreted as Cingular to be a bad service provider. In fact I’m very happy with the phone, the coverage and most of all the costumer service (till now). But I have been a customer only for a week and hence not the right person to judge.

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