AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint have signed an agreement brokered by the Vermont Attorney General’s office to stop billing for premium SMS (pSMS). Verizon did not sign up but is already executing its strategy to stop the practice. The objective is to stop cramming, a scam that has targeted two thirds of Americans in the past year. The only thing slowing them down, it seems, is that two legitimate uses for pSMS are charitable giving and donations to political parties.
This is obviously part of the FCC’s Truth in Billing manifesto, whereby all bills provided to customers must clearly state what the service is for. The responsibility for third party charges now rests with the service provider, thus the action to stop this despicable practice that they have let happen until it was with them that the buck stopped.
While it seems that at least two of the companies in this laudable action are working out ways to keep charitable giving and political donations on pSMS, a better question might be – why?
Late last year, BillingViews conducted a survey which showed 30 million Americans are ready to try Direct Operator Billing (DOB). With DOB – or carrier billing in the States – the carrier has control over the charges billed to the customer. Since the commissions that carriers collect from transactions is a negotiation, then charities and political parties should get round the table with the carriers and work out the way forward with DOB.
That way, pSMS could be consigned to history as a technical work-around until something more intuitive and slick came along in the shape of DOB. And cramming would become a thing of the past.