This is the problem with being charged to receive text messages

spamWell it looks like my not-even-a-month-old new cell phone number is already out in the wild somehow. I received this unsolicited text message from a 718-area phone number, which Nicholas tells me is Brooklyn or Queens, New York (I’m in Boston).

Couple problems here. First, I don’t own a home and I’m not looking to buy one anytime soon. Second, I’d probably look for a reputable lender. Nicholas also said, “You can basically assume that if someone has a 718 area code they at least have a small knife on them at all times.” I’m just not comfortable meeting with knife-wielding mortgage lenders at this stage in my life.

Third, I’m not going to blame AT&T for this particular message. I can’t say for sure that they sold my phone number – I doubt they did. If anything, my new number is someone else’s old number – a number that could have been entered into one of thousands of web forms, reputable or otherwise. Whatever the case, it’s out there now.

I will, however, blame US wireless carriers in general for charging people to receive text messages, wanted or unwanted. If I didn’t have an AT&T texting plan – I do, I pay $5 per month for 200 messages – then I would have had to shell out 20 cents to receive this unsolicited text. So it’s either add a texting plan or pay for every text message that gets sent to me. What a racket.

Now to be fair, I could turn off text messaging completely by calling up AT&T customer service and telling them to nix all text messages to and from my account. But what if I was a guy who wanted the ability to send a few text messages each month? I’m exactly that guy.

I’m okay with spending 80 cents to send four text messages every month, I’m not okay with paying 20 cents for each text message that my dumb text-happy friends want to send me and I’m really not okay with paying 20 cents for Liberty Mortgage to invite me to a Beat It-style knife fight over a mortgage I don’t need.

If someone calls me and I don’t answer, I don’t use any of my plan minutes. That makes total sense. If someone sends me a text message I don’t want, my options are to either pay 20 cents or to add what I believe to be a wildly-overpriced texting package.

Doesn’t seem right.