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Wednesday, 05 September 2018 05:58

Optus' telco profits drop – so it gets into the spam business

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Optus' telco profits drop – so it gets into the spam business Pixabay

(CORRECTION: Please note that this article contains corrections and clarifications at the end of the story.) The powers-that-be at Singtel Optus may think they are being mighty smart by sending unsolicited text messages to all and sundry to try and sell their mouldy mobile plans. In that, they are dead wrong. 

It's time that these virtuosos realised that they are lowering themselves to the level of online Viagra pushers by abusing the fact that they have people's mobile numbers — obtained when one registers for Optus Sport — to send this kind of vile promotional spam.

It is probably a cost-effective measure as a text message costs nothing. It can also be indulged in in a cowardly manner, not providing a return number. Someone out there in Optus, the company that failed miserably when it came to providing streaming footage of the World Cup when needed, thinks this tactic will work.

This clown who decided on the spam campaign — or maybe it's a posse of clowns — also possesses chutzpah in spades, and thinks people will click on the unsubscribe link and forget that this putrid message was sent to them. Well, Optus, here is one person who bites back.

You would think that a company which hails from Singapore would have a little more class. And you would be wrong, because there seem to be cheap hucksters in its ranks who abuse the data they have got – just because, well, they have it.

My dealings with Optus have been limited to having a couple of mobiles with them more than a decade ago, and using the Optus Sport app during the time of the World Cup football tournament to watch a few videos. 

If Optus thought it would get any more business from me, then it has made a big mistake. I have resolved to put the boot into the company at every opportunity possible from now onwards. When a company stoops so low as to start spamming people for no reason, then one should return fire in spades.

But then I paused and had a think: maybe Optus has entered the spam business because its profits are falling. In the quarter ending June 2018, the company revealed net profits for the three months dropped by 3.5% to $154 million from $160 million for the corresponding period in 2017.

Spam, after all, is a win-win. Some idiot will click on a link and that spam message pays off. Perhaps Optus has realised that it lacks the competency to sell telecommunications services and would do better in the spam business.

Whatever it is, it is time to realise that occasionally you might spam the wrong individual, someone who is willing to take the time and expend the energy to blast back on all cylinders. This is the first instalment. There is more to come.

Unbeknownst to the author, he was still a subscriber to Optus Sport at the time Optus forwarded the SMS marketing message on 3 September. He had assumed wrongly that once the free usage period had expired on 31 August he would no longer be a subscriber since he had uninstalled the app from his phone and had no intention of taking up the paid service. It turns out however that subscriptions to the free service which had been offered as a result of the World Cup problems were automatically converted to paid subscriptions from 1 September unless they actively unsubscribed using a link on the Optus Sport Terms & Conditions page. Optus clearly states during the sign-up process to Optus Sport that subscribers agree to be contacted by Optus about products and services.

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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