iPhone phantom texts complaint

TOM PULLAR-STRECKER
Last updated 15:51 27/09/2012
iPhone

PHANTOM: Software applications bundled with the iPhone could cause 'phantom' text messages.

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A Wellington 2degrees customer is complaining his iPhone has begun sending "phantom" text messages to Britain, diddling him out of small change.

The man, who wanted to be identified only as "John M", said he started being billed for texts he had not sent after upgrading his iPhone 4S smartphone to Apple's latest iOS 6 operating system.

They had so far cost him $1.90.

2degrees told him the automated texts were Apple's fault, but Apple said he should ask 2degrees to block them.

The complaint came as Vodafone and Telecom geared up to start selling Apple's latest iPhone 5 at several of their New Zealand stores from midnight tonight.

2degrees product manager Joe Cavanagh confirmed two software applications that are bundled with the iPhone operating system, iMessage and Facetime, could generate such texts without owners' intervention.

He said the carrier first came across the issue when Apple launched its iOS 5 operating system and had responded by "zero-rating" texts to the number the software communicated with.

That did not block the texts, but meant customers were not billed.

"What it looks like has happened this time is either that number has changed or Apple is using multiple numbers," Cavanagh said.

2degrees spokeswoman Charlene White said its response to the Wellington customer "was not ideal".

If other customers were billed for such phantom texts, they could contact 2degrees which would look after them and consider refunds on a case-by-case basis, she said.

Cavanagh said there were also Android apps that would "authenticate" themselves by texting an international number, but that usually involved customers making a conscious choice to allow that.

"They need to do that to make sure you own that [phone], to prevent spam and so forth."

An Apple spokesman in Sydney was unaware of the issue but promised to look into the matter. Dozens of people have complained about the "phantom" texts on Apple's online forums however.

Some posts suggested the texts were only an issue when people used carriers that were "unsupported" by Apple. That would include 2degrees, which does not sell iPhones.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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