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July 01, 2006

Rogers Wireless and the Email Dilemma

In late 2004, Rogers Wireless modified their Email to Text system to incorporate Pagemail Wireless's Doorman system. It sounded good at first. It lets you get the whole message instead of the first 160 characters, allows alias email addresses to be created and has built in spam protection. But this change wasn't announced and most people were introduced to the system when they used the Email to Text feature and found that instead of their message being delivered, a proxy message was delivered asking them to reply to get the message. A storm of discussion popped up and after exploring all the options and documentation it was determined that there was no way to get around this new system. You had to reply to each and every message to get the first chunk and every subsequent chunk, as well as configure the doorman system. Each message you sent was counted as a regular text message and charged at the normal $0.15 a message rate. Along with myself, numerous people were irate at this change. This feature was included in contracts and listed as allowing free unlimited incoming email. Further to that, the phone I had at the time was not capable of sending text messages and therefore I could not use this system at all. Customer service responses talked up this change as an enhancement, valuable spam protection, when I told them I couldn't receive email at all because of this change, they offered to remove the feature from my account. What? I'm paying for this service, it's in my contract and they are unilaterally removing it. The outrage of many customers eventually turns up a work around. The web based interface to send messages is still free, but the changes to the Email to Text feature were also applied here and a captcha was added. Someone later noticed that the old web interface was still active and you could use that without the captcha. Scripts were written to send messages via this interface. This worked until mid 2006 when it appears the old server was finally retired. The outrage boiled to the top again, especially since Rogers Wireless now offers a "Direct Delivery" feature for a $5/month fee. Hmm, it costs $5 to opt out of a valuable service, and oddly this feature can't be ordered alongside other features and it's only mentioned in one small location on the website. There is no current resolution.


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