Mobile Directory Services: I Crap On Thee
I called a vacation rental property owner's phone number yesterday - from my cell phone - and got voicemail. Before I could leave a message I was asked if I wanted the business' contact info SMS'd to me. I hung up at that point, but have since received the following SMS message:
"Reply Y now to get info on the # you arehttp://www2.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gif trying to reach. Locator Svc $9.99/month +std msg fees for 20 lookups/month. Support/Terms? www.sms181.com"
I know this is opt-in and clearly described, but it still strikes me as one of the most underhanded money-grabs in the world of search/navigation/directory services.
A) If I don't ask for the service, don't offer it to me
B) If I *did* want the business' info, why should I have to opt in to a subscription service to get it?
If you visit the website behind this spineless jellyfish of a business practice - www.sms181.com - you will have no luck finding any information on who runs this company. This, of course, earns the unknown proprietor of SMS181 the PooPoo Grande in abscentia, from one of my favorite sites, DogDoo.com.
Until governments force mobile operators to shun unwanted subscription-based partners, use of SMS as a search & directory service will not live up to its potential.
June 19, 2008 update: Someone from the FTC hit this post after searching "SMS181.com locator" on Google, so hopefully they're on it...