If you’re a Rogers Wireless subscriber, you may have noticed that there is an email to text message bridge available to you.Â Anyone can send email to your firstname.lastname@example.org, and Rogers will deliver that to you as a text message.Â In fact, that’s the way that AOL and MSN offlineÂ IM text messaging works.Â It simply gets sent to the email gateway and dropped onto your telephone as an SMS message.Â Sounds pretty useful, right?
Not so fast Jim Bob… here’s where we plumb the depths of stupid marketing ideas.Â No doubt some fresh and minty straight-out-of-biz school MBA cooked this little scheme up without ever once talking to a customer about what real world users might think of the idea.Â It’s that moronic.
You see, Rogers allows you a certain number of “free” SMS messages each month on whatever plan you buy, and then bills you for the overage at $.15 per message.Â However, because they’d like to encourage the use of SMS, and would like to send you SMS offers, they don’t bill for incoming SMS messages, just the ones you send.Â
So here’s their brain-dead idea to jack up the number of SMS messages you send.Â Their email to text gateway doesn’t deliver you the actual message you received.Â Instead, it delivers you a message saying that you’ve got a message waiting.Â If you’d like to read your message, it goes on, then REPLY to this message with the word READ.Â PRESTO: when you reply,Â you consume one text message.Â Use the service often enough, and your “free” text messages included in your plan will be exhausted and Rogers will be in the money.Â
Even worse, the email to text message gateway is one way only.Â You can’t actually reply to the sender of that message you just received!Â Â Effectively, this means that theÂ AOL and MSN offline text messaging options are basically useless.Â In fact, the whole email to text messaging gateway is useless.Â Rogers has built a metered communications system (can’t cure those old-line telco’s of all their bad habits overnight, it seems), and then put up a giant roadblock to prevent people from actually using it.Â I’m sure there’s a junior product manager somewhere deep within the bowels of Rogers marketing department right now wondering why this “product” doesn’t make the company any money.
But, you know, there is a way out of this SMS hell… it’s called the Rogers Email to Text Direct Delivery Option.Â For the paltry sum of $5 per month, Rogers will makeÂ email toÂ SMS work the way any normal thinking person would expect it to work.Â They’ll turn off that goofy READ feature, and just send the message directly to your phone.Â And you can reply to the message too…
I’ll bet that same junior product manager is wondering why this feature doesn’t make any money either…Â well, here are two clues:Â
- Finding the page on theÂ Rogers site where this is describedÂ is a bit like cave diving without a light.Â It’s not easy.Â
- Once you’ve found the page and know what you want, there doesn’t seem to be a way anywhere on the Rogers site to actually order this product.Â That’s right.Â You can’t order it.
Most importantly,Â nickling and dimingÂ customers with meaninglessÂ and/or stupidÂ choices is a proven way to make them look for simpler solutions elsewhere.Â One of the reasons that VoIP services have had success versus incumbents is that they understand this fundamental piece of psychology.Â Instead of charging a buck or two for every meaningless “service”, they offer aÂ bundle packed with features at one price.
Bell MobilityÂ doesn’t go out of their way to make their SMS gateway hard to use, by the way, andÂ I bet they have more SMS traffic as a result.Â