“ Send SMS for free „
I have a Pay-as-you-go mobile phone and so, although it is very cheap for me to use since I don't need to make many calls, when I do it's usually a text message in response to one sent by my family. I therefore don't have the luxury of being able to simply knock one out, safe in the knowledge that I've still got another 499 free text messages to somehow use up this month!
Back when I was working, the company-provided mobile phone was on O2's service and they provided a web based free text service for customers. I used it a lot. Now that I am retired I've been looking around for something similar. There are a few out there but I thought I ought to tell you about this one, much by way of a warning as anything, about how even the fine print doesn't always tell the whole story.
FreebieSMS is based in Northern Ireland and their website is as simple as it can be in appearance. You are not required to register with the site in order to use it. On the left is the image of a [Nokia] mobile phone, which has no functional use at all on the website other than as a visual indication of the function it provides. On the right of the phone is the area in which you create your SMS text message and on the right of that is the area headed "Address Book".
First you have to provide the phone number of the contact to whom you want to send the message. However, it's not as simple as just typing it in, oh no. You have to select a contact from the address book. Of course, you don't have anything in the address book so first you have to create an entry. You click "Add". On the page presented you can add up to three contacts at a time; name, phone number and email address. You then add these to your address book.
This then takes you back to the main page and now, on the right, is listed the contacts you have just created. You select one. Below that you enter your own phone number as the number from which the message is supposedly sent. This, though, you enter immediately rather than via the address book.
I'm guessing that the address book entries you have created are saved on your computer via cookies. So, if you do, as I do, set the Firefox option to only keep cookies until you close Firefox, the next time you go to FreebieSMS, all your address book entries will be gone!
Finally you enter your message in the box beneath. When you are happy with it you click "Send my text message!". That's it. Or, at least, it is from your point of view. And it's cost you nothing. Now, I suppose you're thinking, "This sounds like a good thing"? If you'd used your mobile phone it would probably have cost you at least 10p, probably more, unless you have a Pay Monthly package with inclusive text messages. Instead it's cost you nothing, and that's true.
Of course, you should read the small print at the bottom of the webpage, but who does? If you do you learn that "Standard text messages to Orange, O2 (UK), T-Mobile, Virgin Mobile, Vodafone, Guernsey, Jersey, Manx and Three are free to send, other networks cost 60p to send." But, read on because immediately after this you also discover that "For Messages sent to O2,Orange,3, Vodafone, Guernsey, Jersey, Manx and T-Mobile networks, the recipient will have the option to pay £5 to read the message".
And this announcement is a very recent change, a change to the webpage only in the last few days. Prior to this there was no such confession. All it stated was that "...the recipient would have the choice whether or not to receive the message". Maybe there have been so many complaints that they've decided to come clean? Nevertheless, they still haven't made a feature of this information. It's lost in the jumble at the bottom of the screen and could very easily be overlooked.
From this you will guess that the message is not simply delivered to the recipient. They just get a text message telling them that they have been sent a message and who from and that if they want to read it then they should call a special 5 digit number and be charged £5 for the privilege!
There is a famous phrase that "There's no such thing as a free lunch". With FreebieSMS that is so true. You have been warned.