Many would argue that the fines for using emoji should be much more! UK Network EE have done their part and reportedly charged one user an astronomical amount of money for using emoji in her messages. Those little characters have changed from 🙂 to 🙁 very quickly when a £1200 bill lands on your mat.
Paula Cochrane suffered a barrage of 40p costs when her Samsung mobile converted every message containing an emoji into a multimedia message or MMS. So despite being on a £30.99 unlimited tariff, she encountered a bill for December and January of £900, and another £150 for the first few days of February.
“The first bill in November was for £100.92 but I put it down to me using the phone more than usual. The package I’m on has unlimited texts so I thought I’d just used up more minutes without realising it. It was a new phone after all.” – Paula Cochrane
Speaking to the Daily record she recalled the shock of not just herself but the staff in the EE shop when she brought the bill in. “Even the staff at my local EE shop were shocked when I told them. They knew nothing about it. Do EE really think I’d run up these bills if I knew the cost?” Unfortunately EE have already debited more than £1000 from Paula’s account, offering to cover £100 of the bill as a gesture of goodwill.
“There are a number of factors which can affect whether customers are charged for sending an emoji usually by the settings on the handset and so is a manufacturer – rather than a network issue. EE has a help section on the website which details instances where an SMS may convert into MMS.” – An EE spokesman
The Blame Game
EE have done their best to shake any responsibility of the astronomical bill, stating that settings on the handsets could be to blame. They may have a point as she doesn’t seem to be alone with this converting to MMS issue. The bug seems to strike Samsung devices including the Galaxy S1, S2, S3 and S4, as well as the Galaxy Note 1, 2, 3 and Galaxy Ace.
Other manufactures have been quick to gets some points against Samsung, with HTC, Nokia, and Apple all stating their device would never convert a message to MMS just because it contains emoji. Nevertheless MoneySavingExpert has uncovered some users suffering this bug, when using emoji made up of text.
O2 also confirmed that a message may be converted to an MMS if it is to more than one person, contains simple icons or sent though a third party app. If that’s the case then it might be time to look at alternative message platforms. More transparency is definitely needed in this market. When a user is charged a fortune for sending something that is included on her keyboard questions need to be asked.
Update: EE has responded to our article on Twitter, reaffirming that this is a handset issue and offering instruction on how to prevent this issue from happening;
Source: Daily Mail
— EE (@EE) February 10, 2015