How to annoy your customers, T-Mobile edition

Yesterday morning, I was awakened at 2:08 am by the incoming text message indication sound from my phone. I am traveling in Europe and my local time is +10 hours relative to my home, so it was a perfectly reasonable time to send a message to me in California. As I stumbled across the room, I wondered which of my friends or colleagues I had forgotten to tell about my trip.

The answer was “none of them.” T-Mobile had sent me a text message with the following contents:

Free T-Mobile Msg: Use your T-Mobile HotSpot account at Starbucks for years to come with no additional charges. Learn more at

As I have often said before, T-Mobile knows where I am. Their roaming database knows that I’m in Europe because I’m attached to the Vodafone Greece network. Therefore, the T-Mobile network is perfectly capable of knowing what time it is where I am. Sending me text messages in the early hours of the morning is just aggressively stupid customer service. At 2 am, I do not care about how long I can use the hotspots at Starbucks, and in fact, coffee is not something I remotely want to consider.

(Early morning disturbances from the phone were the driving force behind the time zone processing feature I developed for my home PBX. Read part 1 and part 2 of the Linux Journal description.)

If anything, this text message is yet another illustration of why I can’t wait to get an OpenMoko phone. The first thing I’ll do is develop a “turn off ringing and text messages within the hours of X pm to Y am” feature, so that I’m not bothered by this ever again.

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