Tuesday, January 10, 2006

I Think I've Been Crammed!

In early November, I went to San Francisco for the Joint Launch Event. Shortly upon returning home, I kept getting these unsolicited text messages on my cell phone, like the following:

From: 31000
U have 0 pts next question: What is the name of Hilary Duff's sister? A Heidi B Haytie C Yogi Berra D JoeDimaggio

Sometimes, the messages would include text like: "2 end reply stop." Once or twice, I even tried to reply with the word "stop", but I would just get a Undeliverable Message error.

So, I didn't think any more about it until I started looking at my December cell phone bill. Each of these messages were coming in at a $0.99 charge! Verizon is listing them under "Get It Now downloads" as:

Prem_sms 31000 Mobilemessager Trivia

Sigh... This is the last thing that I needed to spend time trying to resolve...

Log of Steps That I've Taken to Resolve the Issue


Unsubscribed before any further messages arrived. You're supposed to be able to do this by replying to a trivia message with "STOP" (to 31000), but every time that I tried, I would always get a Undeliverable Message response. Instead, I just used their website:



Contacted the company:

42 Corporate Park
Irvine, CA 92606
United States of America




Since I prefer to use email whenever possible, I sent the following:
Since about November, I have been receiving unsolicited prem_sms messages from 31000 to my VZW cell phone (419-410-xxxx). Sure, the messages stated that I could reply with STOP to opt out (which never worked, by the way--always undeliverable), but to my point, I never opted in to any trivia game.

Imagine my surprise when I reviewed my VZW phone bill to discover that at one point, each trivia message was being billed at $0.99 a piece, and a monthly SMS message was priced at $9.99.

I discovered your web site this morning, and used the online Unsubscribe feature to prevent any further unsolicited messages. I need to know that you will be cooperating with reversing any and all 31000 prem_sms charges made to my phone since November, in which case we can simply write this off as an accounting mistake. Otherwise, I'll be forced to believe that there is interstate fraud involved.


I received a reply from "Ashley N.":

Please fax a copy of the bill to 949 777 3707. And after reviewing it we
will someone will be in contact with you.

Thank you,



I complied with the request, both faxing and emailing a scanned copy of what I faxed.


I received the following reply from "Ashley N.":

I have received your fax. Please reply back with your billing address, so I can complete your request for a refund.

Thank you,


I replied via email with my billing address. At the end, I also requested to know how my number ended up in their system.


Never found out how my number ended up in their system, but I did get a check for the amount of the disputed charges.

The check was from:

New Motion, Inc
42 Corporate Park, Suite 250
Irvine, CA 92606
(949) 777-3700

UPDATE 02/13/2006

I found this while Googling(Source):
Before you enter Mobilesidewalk, READ THE FINE PRINT. In order to sign up for their service and receive ringtones, you have to agree to participate in the Mobile Sidewalk Music Trivia Challenge. As part of the challenge, you will receive trivia questions in the form of text messages at the cost of $0.99 per text (the charges will appear on your cell phone bill).

If you choose to sign up and enter Mobilesidewalk, the service will charge you a monthly fee of $9.99. However, if your phone service is through Verizon, Nextel or Alltel, don’t bother unless you just want to play the trivia challenge, these phone services are not compatible with the ringtones offered.

I don't specifically remember browsing for ringtones, since I'm not really into that, but it shows what kind of M.O. this company has: the $1 per message trivia is obviously their money maker.