spam

ACMA Investigates Nokia for SMS Spam

The ongoing saga of Nokia's txt spam continues.

The bad news is that I received another txt from Nokia today. This comes after being told by Nokia that I would no longer receive any txts from them. The message reads:

Tip: Use less battery power and help conserve energy with a few helpful tips from Nokia. Vist http://environment.nokia.mobi to learn more.

I have an energy saving tip for Nokia, stop sending txt messages I don't want, then I won't waste energy on trying to make them stop.

Now for the good news. A little while ago ACMA told me that they were preparing to launch a formal investigation into Nokia's SMS messages under the Spam Act. It's now official. Late last Friday I received the following email from the ACMA Investigator handling the matter:

Dear Mr Hall

I write with reference to your complaint #XXX concerning allegations of breaches of the Spam Act 2003 (Spam Act). The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has now commenced an investigation into Nokia Australia Pty Ltd about potential contraventions of the Spam Act. During the course of this investigation, the ACMA may require you to provide more information about any dealings you have had with Nokia Australia Pty Ltd and potentially complete a witness statement. The Anti-Spam Team will contact you in due course if this is required. The Anti-Spam Team does not provide your personal information to the business apart from the electronic account information (mobile telephone number) you have already provided. As I am sure you can appreciate, the ACMA is not able to disclose details of the investigation with you, but will advise you when an outcome has been determined. On behalf of the ACMA, I appreciate your assistance in this investigation and thank you for your cooperation.

Information about the Spam Act is available on our website at www.spam.acma.gov.au Please contact us if you have any queries.

I wonder how much energy Nokia will put into defending itself to ACMA.

Watch this space for more news.

Making My Nokia SMSes Stop

This is a public service announcement.

Tracy Postill, Corporate Communications Manager at Nokia Australia sent me this response when I enquired as to why it had taken more then 6 months for me to be unsubscribed from the My Nokia service.

There are a number of very simple processes to unsubscribe:

- sending "stop" to +61416906978

- through My Nokia application in phone

- online at www.nokia.com.au/mynokia

- request "unsubscribe" through Australia.mynokia@nokia.com

- Nokia Customer Care (Carline or email support)

This information is presented to consumers in multiple ways:

- after signing in via phone, customer receives a welcome message and information on how to opt-out (SMS)

- ~20% of scheduled SMS contain opt-out information (SMS)

- in every sales pack, there are the T&Cs for MyNokia including all the details of how to opt-out

- My Nokia FAQ on https://my.nokia.com/appmanager/AustraliaEnglishMY_NOKIA_AUSTRALIA/Login?SAMLart=AAQAAYU6%2FZbJFfjRP3cckEAJmxKhSmx8sqF8q2CNtVwZBvZUL6lb%2FBg%2Fmio%3D&RelayState=qh8DL4DVL1Qp9q612ncWTwWvRp6QQKYB52xh1226HJJ1RP14NvQr!-432133733!1266205653496#faq14

My signup text message and terms and conditions were returned to Optus along with everything else that came with my N97. None of the txts I have recieved from My Nokia has contained any opt out information and the FAQ requires a My Nokia account to be able to access it.

I explained to Tracy that I think Nokia has major issues with their processes for unsubscribing from My Nokia, she has "sent this email to our head of care and asked him to follow up on this". I will post a follow up if I receive a response from "head of care". I hope this saves others the hassle of trying to unsubscribe from the service.

Update 25-Feb-2010 The txts have stopped. What an ordeal! Hopefully if you are reading this the options above work for you.

Nokia and TXT Spam

Last year I bought my 4th Nokia phone in a row, a N97 on contract from Optus. What a mistake that was. The phone would drop every second call and the user experience was less than I expected from Nokia. Telstra allow customers in the bush to test drive a handset for a few days or so to make sure it works where you need it, Optus on the other hand will sell you the handset but offer a "Coverage Satisfaction Guarantee". After about 2 weeks, I bailed out of the contract with Optus through the CSG, returning the handset to Optus and eventually not having to make any repayments on the handset.

When I first turned on the phone it gave me the option of activating My Nokia tips and special offers or something like that, I thought I would turn it on and see what tips and offers I could get. It turned out the tips weren't very useful and there were no offers, let alone anything I would call special. When I returned the phone I completely forgot about the My Nokia txts. I was to discover Nokia hadn't forgotten about me. About twice a month I continue to receive messages from My Nokia.

Back in September I got fed up with receiving the text messages, which contained no option for opting out, so I filed a complaint with ACMA. 6 weeks later I was advised by ACMA that they had contacted Nokia on my behalf and asked them to unsubscribe me. I assumed this would be the end of the matter. The messages continued, so I contacted ACMA again. Two weeks later I was told again that Nokia had been told by ACMA to unsubscribe me. The following day another text arrives. In early January I received the following response from ACMA.

Thank-you for your email, I have tried to unsubscribe you from receiving messages from My Nokia.

I received the following from a Nokia Email Support Executive on the 16 December 2009.

Thank you for contacting Nokia Careline. I have searched our records using the phone numbers that you have provided and I find that all of them are not present in our system which means that they have not contacted us even once. We will not be able to unsubscribe an account without the direct consent from the owner of the account. If the customer is having difficulty to unsubscribe from the service, they should contact us first so that we can assist them. There are several ways to unsubscribe from the My Nokia service.

These are as follows:

1. Using a PC, Login to My Nokia and click on Edit my Details

2. Using the phone, open the My Nokia icon and select "Unsubscribe"

3. Click the link at the bottom of the email message sent from My Nokia

Should you have any questions regarding our product or if we can be of any assistance, please feel free to contact one of our friendly Technical Support Executives on 1-300 366 733 between the hours of 8am and 8pm, AEST, seven days a week. For online assistance, please visit ‘ASK Nokia’ at our website

Have you attempted the above to unsubscribe from this service?

As I explained to ACMA, I have never installed any Nokia software on my PC, so option 1 is out. As I no longer have the handset, option 2 is out, it is txt not an email so option 3 wouldn't work, so I decided to call Nokia.

I called Nokia on the number listed above. After 15 minutes or so on hold, I got to speak to someone in a call centre on the sub continent. The line was appalling, to make matters worse the guy I was dealing with seemed to be the work experience kid on his first day. I would talk to him for a minute or 2, then be put on hold for 5 minutes or more while he put me "on hold for a minute while I check something". I don't think that there was a sentence I didn't have to repeat. In the end he terminated the call when I lost it after being asked to spell "Nokia" to him for a 3rd time. Almost an hour of my time wasted.

I called Nokia back. This time I was kept on hold again for around 20 minutes. As soon as the call was answered I demanded to speak to a supervisor. After further time on hold I got to speak to a supervisor. First he tried to tell me it was coming from Optus not Nokia and that I needed to contact them. Next I was told to use the My Nokia menu option, which I explained I didn't have. Finally he suggested that he could login to the My Nokia website and unsubscribe me - finally I was getting somewhere! Then I was asked for my password, I explained I didn't have one, "that's OK sir, you can go to the website and sign up for one". It was clear after almost another hour lost this was going no where, so I cut my loses.

After getting off the phone I looked at how much information Nokia wanted so I could sign up for My Nokia. There was no way I was going to give any company that much information just to stop them spamming me - they have the identity theft jackpot questions all there.

On Wednesday I phoned the person at ACMA who was handling my complaint. They claim ACMA is complying with the letter of the law as these are not unsolicited commercial messages, but rather factual services messages from a company I have a relationship with. Apparently you can spam people in Australia if the messages are factual. As these are factual messages, Nokia isn't even required to have an opt out option. Although such actions may be legal, I don't think they are a good way to build customer loyalty and confidence in a brand.

I'm not happy with this situation. Based on some quick math, I have spent 4 to 5 hours chasing this, which is time I wasn't billing clients. This means I am pretty much down the cost of a new phone outright. As things stand now, I am not feeling like recommending Nokia to family, friends or clients, instead I am more likely tell this story and discuss the lack of customer service. I am now also very unlikely to buy the N900 I have been admiring on amazon, let alone attend Forum Nokia Developer Conference 2010. Instead I am likely to import a Nexus One or some other open phone.

I hope someone reading this works for Nokia or has a contact there who can resolve this. If anything happens I will post an update.

Below are some of pearls of wisdom I've received from Nokia:

Tip: Automatically adding location information to your pictures means you'll never forget a place. In camera mode, select Options > Settings > Show GPS info

Tip: Find out if a surface is flat by using your device as a spirit level. Download the free Level Touch app by visiting http://nokia.mobi/os/leveltouch

Tip: Share your favourite places with Nokia Maps. When viewing a map, select a saved place, press Send, and then choose your preferred sending method.

Tip: Use the self-timer to make you don't get left out of the next family portrait. In camera mode select the Capture settings icon and select Self Timer.

Tip: Listen to music in stereo sound and manage your calls with the Nokia Stereo Headset WH-500. Visit [...]

Update 15-Feb-2010 @ 13:00AEDT I emailed Tracy Postill, Corporate Communications Manager at Nokia Australia, a link to my post. She raised the issue with Nokia Care who called me on Freiday evening and told me that they had tried some things, but it would take 2 weeks or so before they knew if it worked or not. I sent a follow up email to Tracy asking why was it so difficult to unsubscribe from My Nokia. I am still waiting on a response from Tracy.

Are sploggers getting smarter?

Some time ago I switched from using Akismet to Mollom. When I made the switch I was preparing to (finally) migrate to Drupal 6, but that project has stalled. I also though it would be a better idea to use something developed by acquia, rather than the compeition.

After switching to Mollom I noticed the number of comments I was getting went through the floor, even though I kept the module up to date.

After some complaints from users I disabled caching and allowed Mollom approved comments to be posted without moderation.

There has been a big problem with my recent changes - the sploggers are winning. It seems if a splogger quotes a paragraph or 2 from the item they are commenting on, they're getting through. I haven't been able to find a way of telling if it is humans entering the CAPTCHAs or if it is bots exploiting a weakness in Mollom.

Either way I think this is a problem that needs to be sorted. No I don't have any suggestions for solving it, I am busy solving other issues - so please don't label me an OSDB. Well given only the Mollon client is FOSS and I suspect the problem is in the (proprietary) backend, I can duck that accusation :)

Offer of the Day

This turned up in my inbox this morning and I thought I would share it with people.

Good day

I have on several occasions received email from some other debian consultants not just you they've all been asking me to introduce debian to every institution in my country; you must understand that though am very interested, we are talking about a number that would almost run into infinity.

It is true that my Government can bear the cost of importing up to 500Million CDs but the fact remains that I personally do not understand the Software or what it's used for, as such I can't propose it to the senate this is one aspect that we have to discuss in detail about, preferably via my private email which am presently using to write you.

Kindly get back to me so we can discuss about this software and it's benefit to the users if it's beneficial then I promise we can impose it on my country just like Microsoft and make money out of it like you proposed but most important is that you get back to me with details.

Best regards

Abubakar Maikafi
Email: maikafiabubakar@gmail.com
Phone: +234-07025419252.

He is obviously after full CD sets of Debian if he wants half a billion CDs. I am not in a position to supply this quanity of discs, but if you are, please feel free to contact Abubakar Maikafi about his needs.

Usually I only get unrelated spam or resumes from Indian coders looking for .NET on Windows work via my Debian Consultants listing. This even slipped past spam assassin and made my morning.

Webarama? Spamarama!

Some businesses have a strange way of promoting their services. Many years ago I used webarama for hosting a small client site. I cancelled the service over 4 years ago as the client no longer needed the site. I didn't really have any problems with them that I can remember, but I won't be recommending them to anyone after they spammed me about a new anti spam service they were offering.
Dear Dave, As part of our ongoing commitment to provide new features to clients we are pleased to announce the launch of our Anti Spam management interface for shared hosting clients, following on from the recent announcement of our free Anti Spam & Anti Virus system. The My-Spam interface allows you to take control of your email, specifying custom spam scores, deletion of spam email and specifying white and blacklisted email addresses. ...
Maybe webarama need to familiarise themselves with the Australian Spam Act 2003 there is a good summary CAUBE.AU's website. I will be emailing webarama a link to this post and will see what they have to say. Stay tuned.

Blog Spam

I think I am pretty lucky that I only have 1 comment spammer on my blog. Every day he posts an ever expanding list of links for whatever he is being paid to post, this week it is ring tones. "nareman" give up! The combination of moderation and Akismet means that the posts get round filed. Akismet is a great tool, I recommend it to anyone who enables comments on their blog. If I had more traffic and comments, I would probably pay for a commercial license.