Cellphone users with Bell and Telus are going to have to fork over a little more to receive incoming text messages under new pricing plans slated to roll out in August.
'Oh baby, when my contract's over, I'll be long gone, for sure.'—Debra Messinger, consumer
Under the new plans, customers will be charged 15 cents to receive incoming text messages, including uninvited spam messages. Previously, customers without text plans were only charged for outgoing messages.
Customers with a text messaging rate plan or bundle will not be affected by the new charges.
U.S. and U.K. outgoing text messaging usage and rates
Number of text messages sent in 2006 - 41.8B (Mobile Data Association)
Vodafone - 10 pence
Number of text messages sent in 2007 - 363B (CTIA)
ATT - 20 cents
T-Mobile - 15 cents (rising to 20 cents on Aug. 29)
Sprint - 20 cents
Bell's new pricing plan takes effect on Aug. 8, while Telus will begin charging customers for messages on Aug. 24.
Spokespeople for Bell and Telus were not immediately available for comment.
Kaan Yigit, an analyst with Solutions Research Group, criticized the pricing strategy, suggesting users who rely heavily on text messaging may consider switching to other carriers, including Rogers and Virgin.
"The user has much less control over the messages they receive so it's a terrible customer experience to be charged for such a thing," he said in an e-mail interview.
"A 14-year-old kid gets 30 Happy Birthday messages and gets saddled with the bill, for example."
Customer Debra Messinger, of Halifax, said she plans on switching to another provider once her contract expires.
"Oh baby, when my contract's over, I'll be long gone, for sure," said Messinger.
Tom Kriskie, also of Halifax, said charges for incoming messages were unfair.
"You're at the whim of other people if they send you a message," Kriskie said. "Bam, you're charged …15 cents, and I don't think that's very fair at all."
Steve Yang, an analyst with IDC Canada, said the charge is a method to push consumers to subscribe to a bundling package.
"You can get rid of that 15-cent charge if you had a package," said Yang. "That's probably [what] operators are encouraging you to do."
In the first three months of 2008, Canadians sent 4.1 billion text messages, according the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association. In 2007, Canadians sent more than 10 billion messages.