Ok, it's, what, Season 7 of American Idol? Voting is still limited to Cingular customers. I don't have a phone with Cingular service.

I do have a cell phone though, and I have been watching some American Idol. Each time there is a chance to participate with my cell phone I do.

Yesterday, I sent "Play" to 5005. Nothing happened.

Last week, I sent "B" to 51555.

I figured, well okay, maybe it is just for Cingular customers.

This evening … 24 hours later … I receive the following "free" text message from my wireless carrier:

(I have no idea at this point what my carrier has to do with any of this)

"U may have rec'd multiple conf. msgs 4 American Idol Challenge. You will only be charged $0.99 for each valid entry. Thxs 4 ur entry."

Okay, first, I have to read it three times before I understand what it says. I practically have to read it out loud to get that "ur" is "your."

Now I know my carrier is involved because it is their billing system.

The thing is … I haven't received ANY confirmation codes. My messages have disappeared into a black hole for all I know.

What is up with this? It is the year 2007. Carriers and vendors alike are out there promoting the concept of cross-carrier mobile marketing. American Idol did more to raise awareness of voting with a cell phone than any other entity.


On one hand, there are best practices such as Ryan Seacrest using airtime to say "standard text messaging rates apply." On the other, text messages are being dropped in the sweepstakes (AND APPARENTLY PAID) portion … I think I may call my carrier to get the charge removed (their worst nightmare) … stay tuned.