Text messaging allows Verizon customers to communicate instantly at any time, in any place, as long as a signal is available. Premium messaging subscriptions enhance standard texting, allowing users to send and receive images, sounds and real-time data. Verizon connects its subscribers to third party companies offering premium messaging, allowing customers to opt-in to services of interest.
Verizon does not directly offer premium texting services to consumers. Rather, it contracts with outside companies to offer messaging subscriptions, downloads or applications. Examples of premium text messaging include interactive participation with televised reality shows, gaming, ring tone downloads, horoscopes, weather alerts and sports monitoring.
Verizon subscribers initiate premium texting by sending a short code text request to the third party offering the service. Codes may be a series of numbers or a one-word phrase. Customers must go through a "double opt-in" process to authorize premium messaging, in order to prevent unintended subscriptions, according to the Verizon website. The first step is contacting the third party via the short code. The company sends a response disclosing subscription charges, with instructions for completing the second phase, usually a text message reply containing a specified keyword. In some instances, the first phase of opting-in may be done online or over the phone instead of via text message.
Charges may be recurring, as with message subscriptions, or one-time, as with downloads. Sometimes you may pay a monthly fee to have access to downloads or gaming services, then pay additional one-time fees each time you authorize a download or play a game. The Verizon website says both one-time and recurring premium messaging services range from less than $1 to $9.99, as of the time of publication. These charges are added onto customers' monthly cell phone bills and all premium texting charges are in addition to standard texting costs.
Verizon statements display the name and short code number of the company charging for premium texting. The amount charged per month including recurring subscriptions and individual purchases will also be reflected. Monthly charges are non-refundable, and you must pay for a full month of services on subscriptions canceled mid-month.
Premium messaging offers richer communication channels than traditional text messaging. Customers can view and download images, and listen to and download sounds. Some of the most common uses of premium messaging are casting votes for game shows or submitting comments to television and radio shows. Customers who subscribe to premium messaging need not travel or purchase tickets to participate in national entertainment. News, weather and sports updates sent via premium texts allow Verizon customers to carry their information and entertainment with them at all times.
Verizon listens to consumer feedback about third party messaging providers, and they have banned some in order to keep customer experiences positive, according to Verizon spokesman Jeffry Nelson.
In the article "Premium Messaging Vacuums Wallets," MSNBC says unclear disclosure of charges, high costs and cancellation trouble are some of the most common complaints associated with premium texting. Statements from Verizon spokesman Nelson indicate Verizon considers customer feedback and avoids contracting with third parties that mistreat subscribers. The MSNBC article says third parties may charge up to $30 monthly for premium text subscriptions, but Verizon's website says their premium texting providers charge $9.99 or less.
Despite Verizon's precautions, customers should observe care when opting-in to premium messaging. Third parties are not required to verbally disclose charges, and may display charges in small print on television and online ads, according to MSNBC. Make sure you are aware of charge amounts before opting-in. Notify Verizon if you are charged more than you consented to, or if you continue to receive charges the month following cancellation.
Monitor dependent children's cell phone usage and set clear rules about whether they are allowed to opt-in to premium texting. Children and teens may opt-in to services marketed toward them without realizing they are being charged, so some parents require them to ask permission before sending any short code text messages.
Cancel third party messaging services by replying directly to incoming texts. Key "CANCEL," "END," "QUIT," or "UNSUBSCRIBE" into the message field and send the message. The provider should respond with confirmation your subscription has been canceled.
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