Emoticons are all the rage with the messaging generation (i.e. everyone), and even self-proclaimed Grammar Nazis have embraced the functionality as a single smiley can easily change the tone of an entire message.
But imagine the sad face on Paula Cochrane, a 48 year-old hairdresser from North Lanarkshire, when she racked up an astounding £1,200 bill on account of her penchant for emoticons. :(
The problem, essentially, is that Paula’s Samsung phone was converting emoticons to MMS picture messages, at a cost of £1 a pop.
As such, Paula ran up a total bill of £1,200 in just a few months, despite being on a £30.99 per month EE tariff that includes unlimited texts. Oops.
Paula told The Daily Record: “I am raging. I have never heard of this before and I've had a mobile phone for years.
“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? It's daylight robbery.”
EE has kindly (ahem) offered to knock £100 off Paula’s £1,200 bill, which encompasses usage throughout December, January and February. Paula noticed a higher-than-normal bill in November last year, but assumed she’d simply been using her phone more than usual.
In fact, EE doesn’t appear to have much sympathy at all, explaining that it’s a phone issue rather than a network one.
The problem with emoticon charges is thought to affect a number of older Samsung Galaxy models in particular, including the Galaxy Ace, and earlier Galaxy S and Galaxy Note phones.
To avoid emoticon charges, users can send messages through WhatsApp, for example, which operates via data rather than SMS/MMS; or change their SMS settings ('Input mode') to UniCode rather than automatic.