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Wolfville, Nova Scotia
Canada

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When is a Text Message Not a Text Message?

Chris Campbell

My New PhoneI thought that I had things figured out with my mobile phone data plan to make sure that my Twitter updates weren't costing me any extra money. With the short code for Canada it's very easy to send updates, so I signed up for the unlimited outgoing text messages with Aliant (which is now Bell). I had noticed some 15 cent charges on my phone bill for "TXT Services 2", which seemed to correspond with Twitter updates.

After a few minutes on the phone I started some detective work with the customer service representative and we determined that the "TXT Services 2" were indeed my Twitter updates. So I asked why I was being charged for them and it turns out that the short code is considered a service, which is why there is the charge. The whole reason I had unlimited text messages was to avoid being charged like that, and then I found out that there isn't a plan that includes short codes as "unlimited" text messages actually mean messages from phone to phone. The representative helpfully explained that if I updated on a web site that there wouldn't be a charge, but that defeats the whole purpose of mobile updates.

I do have unlimited web browsing, which means that I can use the Gmail mobile app on my Motorola ROKR and go to web sites as much as I want, so that's the workaround. But with applications that are downloaded that aren't from my mobile provider's site, I have to approve each connection, so every time I refresh my inbox, open or send an email I have to approve the connection, which is a bit of a pain. Twitter's mobile version works beautifully, but on my phone the built-in browser isn't great, but I did find that the new Opera Mini works very well and even has an option to rotate the screen. It's no iPhone or iPod Touch, but it's the best mobile web experience that I can get now.

It would be great if somewhere there was a simple explanation of what you can do with various mobile phone plans and what it would cost. It's frustrating to know that I could spend hours and hours in the mobile browser for a flat monthly fee, but every time I use SMS to send or receive updates there is a 15 cent charge. The complexity of the plans and options is confusing for everyone and far too much time is spent trying to figure out what works and with all of the unexpected charges I can understand why most people in Canada still only talk using their mobile phones.