T-Mobile Sued After It Appears To Block Texts To 'WeedMaps' California Dispensary Finder
T-Mobile's latest slogan is "stick together." The company, however, is accused of preventing some users from trying to get their sticky together. A lawsuit filed in New York accuses the carrier of blocking a texting service because it offers to hook up prospective smokers with a marijuana dispensary locator that has appears to have its primary customer base in Los Angeles and Southern California.
If its claims are true, we feel a little sorry for EZ Texting: It simply serves a a middleman between phone users and WeedMaps.com. But, according to its claim, it appears that when T-Mobile finally discovered that WeedMaps was one of the customers getting texts through EZ, it cut off all the EZ's texts, even ones going to different businesses that have nothing to do with the medical pot biz.
According to the suit (PDF), EZ Texting uses the code 313131 to connect client businesses with potential customers. In WeedMaps' case, texting a word (the suit doesn't say what word, but it could be something such as "WEED") to 313131 allows a party to opt-in to WeedMaps' texts about specials, coupons or other deals.
The company had several clients under the 313131 code, not just the dispensary. They had their own key words that allowed customers to opt-in to their text blasts. But EZ Texting claims that even though it dropped WeedMaps as a client after it was told T-Mobile had a problem with the weed finder, T-Mobile blocked all its texting services through 313131 starting Sept. 10 -- the next day.
The suit states that WeedMaps had been using 313131 to round up potential clients since June, 2009 without incident. (WeedMaps is a map-based guide to dispensaries: Click on a location on a Google-like map and its info comes up. We'll assume here that its own clients -- the dispensaries -- were allowed to shoot texts to people who opted in, but this isn't entirely clear).
EZ Texting claims that the reason given for the text-block wasn't its connection to a medical marijuana locator but that it provided the code for multiple clients to use. However, EZ Texting states that other mobile marketing companies use such "shared short codes" through T-Mobile.
The suit claims irreparable damage and has asked that a judge order the phone company to reinstate the short code. The claim points out that medical marijuana is legal in California and other states served by WeedMaps.
In any case, what happened to T-Mobile? We used to know you when you were cool. Remember your old motto? "Get more." Word. Yeah, you changed man. (By the way, WeedMaps' slogan, "Find your bud?" Best motto ever).
[Update]: You want to know what happened to T-Mobile? Reid Walker, the company's VP of corporate communications, told LA Weekly Tuesday that EZ Texting must be high (not in so many words, but you get the idea):
T-Mobile believes that the recent complaint filed by EZ Texting is without merit; and we are pleased that last Friday, September 17, 2010, the court rejected EZ Texting's motion for early relief. [LA Weekly wants to note here, however, that the suit carries on]. Though T-Mobile doesn't typically comment on pending litigation, we believe it is important to clear up some of the confusion generated by EZ Texting's allegations. Each carrier has a process to ensure that content providers like EZ Texting follow the Mobile Marketing Association's U.S. Consumer Best Practices Guidelines for Cross-Carrier Mobile Content Programs, as well as other regulations applicable to the mobile content business. When T-Mobile discovered that EZ Texting had not followed this process for WeedsMap - the text messaging service at issue in the lawsuit - we turned off the short code that EZ Texting was using for these services. The content of the WeedsMap service simply had nothing to do with T-Mobile's decision.
Smoke on that, dude.