For the past few years, Nextel has been scamming millions of dollars from their customers by sending them text messages promoting their own products. Promoting their own products is not the scam, the scam is that it costs .15 cents to read them. They realize most people don’t know this and almost everyone reads them. Especially the people that rarely get text messages. The main reason this scam works is the lack of knowledge of their customers and the fact that all Nextel phones make an completely different ring when text messages are received and won’t go off until you take a look at them. Most people are confused and do whatever they can to turn it off and then usually take a look at the text message. So not only does Nextel get to promote their wares but the user ends up paying to look. They have been doing this about once a month to my dismay. The price used to be .10 cents but as soon as Nextel joined Sprint the price was raised to .15 cents. This was never announced. In a totally separate issue, customers who can prove that this price raise made a huge difference in the final price of their bills may have the opportunity to leave early without paying the early exit fee. Sprint Nextel spokesman David Gunasegaram said the carrier will look at each customer on a case-by-case basis to determine whether the price increase was “material and adverse.” Lawyers have a different opinion. I have done some math on how much Nextel has made on this scam. Sprint Nextel has 51 million subscribers as of now. I figure that Nextel has about 16 million of these (based on 2004). Theses numbers are falling but this is my best estimate.

16 Million X $.15 X 6 times a year= $9,600,000 stolen from customers

That’s chicken scratch for them but it is still a scam. When I asked Nextel about this they said I have the option of turning off my text. That is all well and fine but what if I still want to receive legit texts? I don get legit messages so why should I have to turn off text because my own provider wants to steal from me. They also said that text messaging was an optional service and therefore it is up to the consumer to realize the costs. People who don’t use Nextel must realize that Nextel is mostly made up of users that originally joined for the direct connect and most do not use the text like the teenagers that use Cingular every day. Nextel knows this and takes advantage of it. Do I want my money back? I could care less about the $1 a year. I just want this practice to stop. The same issue is the lack of information on their internet text messaging center. They make it very easy to send a Nextel user a text online but almost impossible to find the amount the receiver is about to pay. Nextel/Sprint are losing existing customers by the hundreds of thousands a month while other companies are gaining millions. This is just another reason why.

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