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Junk SMS Messages Draw Complaints

While mobile phone messages have become one of the most popular means of communications in present-day China, the short message service has also become a focus of consumer complaints.

Wang Yong, a China Unicom subscriber in Lanzhou City of northwestern Gansu Province, was annoyed with the volume of commercial text messages forced on him almost daily.

"I receive as many as 10 commercials, including senseless invitations for romantic love affairs, each day," Wang complained.

A survey of select mobile phone users indicated that 80 percent disliked such messages, 10 percent were indifferent, and only eight percent believed they provided useful information.

Wang felt that commercial messages constitute harassment to a certain extent.

"If I don't like a certain TV advertisement, I can simply turn it off; if I don't like newspaper advertisements, I can just ignore them. But in this case, you have to spend time for each and every ad that is useless to you," Wang said.

However, according to operators, it is totally within the law to send commercial messages to subscribers.

Qi Wenbin, an official with the Gansu branch of China Mobile, said the messages are either sent by mobile phone agents or Internet operators. Although large in numbers and jumbled in content, they are free.

Tian Jingfeng, an official with the Gansu branch of China Unicom, said that no single stipulation in any law forbids operators from sending ads to subscribers.

But consumers like Wang are backed by the Gansu provincial consumers' association. Cheng Zhigang, an official of the association, said such messages infringed upon the rights and interests of consumers since they trampled the basic business principle of "freewill" on the consumers' side.

(Xinhua News Agency August 1, 2003)

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