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Mobile

Mud in Your I-Shot

Technology, eh? Can you trust it? Oftentimes you can't. Glitches abound in the high-tech systems of the world, though few companies ever admit to their problems. So hats off to NTT DoCoMo Inc. (NYSE: DCM), which is to reimburse some of its picture messaging customers for messages that were never delivered but for which they were billed (see DoCoMo Fixes i-shot).

The trouble afflicting the service, launched on June 1, lay with the message servers and, for once, not the handsets and happened only on "rare occasions," according to a DoCoMo spokesperson. When users with similar IP addresses attempted to send pictures at the same time, the i-shot system could not cope. Messages were dumped and an error message sent to the unlucky user -- not a pretty picture, we're sure you'll agree.

But it seems to Unstrung that the "occasions" can hardly have been that "rare." Some ¥40 million (US$334,000) is to be returned to affected i-shot users, and DoCoMo admits that 23 percent of its 600,000 i-shot customers suffered the effects of the glitch.

Even more incredible is the operator's claim that the problem was discovered because of accounting discrepancies uncovered in late June and not because any customers had complained. Well, that means the customers must be either collectively forgiving, overly meek, immune to error messages, or haphazard at checking their bills. Alternatively, it's possible that DoCoMo has frightful internal communications, doesn't log complaints, or simply refuses to recognize that customers might whine about a new high-profile service that doesn't work.

Whichever it is, at least the service provider is making amends. Wonder if i-shot customers will each get a special message informing them of their refund? A picture of a wedge of cash, perhaps?

— Paul Kallender, special to Unstrung
http://www.unstrung.com
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