Rogers MMS Nightmare

Let me start by saying this is not another Rogers Sucks blog post. Those fish in a barrel posts are dime a dozen, and I have a few nice things to say about Rogers and the service they provide.

In fact, after moving to Peterborough Ontario where Rogers doesn’t offer home phone or cable TV, I broke up the cabal and split the landline and satellite to Bell, internet to the amazing and uncapped (at least for now) Nexicom, but I kept the Rogers cel phones. In my travels across North America including the Caribbean, BC, Michigan, Florida, and all points between, I’ve found my Rogers cel phone coverage to be exemplary. Notice I’m not talking about the brutal data plans as I still have my LG feature phone. I’m one of those old skool users that prefer to use my phone to speak into a microphone with a high level of confidence that the recipient of my transmitted voice will be able to hear me clearly and without disruption.

That’s right, I tend to use my phone as a phone, and not a HAL-9000.

I’ve heard the horror stories with people’s cel phone reception, and know a good thing when I have it.

So, I kept Rogers for my cel phones.

OK so where does the nightmare part start?

MMS Hell

Until recently, when I took a picture with the excellent LG camera, I would send it to Facebook or Flickr using the ’email to us’ option. Facebook and Flickr generates a strange email address which is linked to my account. You can see a folder of mobile uploads here. If you’ve been following me on Facebook for a while you may recall my trip to Vancouver two years ago which was thoroughly documented this way with photos and video. Very easy and a good use of the MMS texting system

Rogers must have realized they had a good service going that served their paying customers well and added value to the Rogers name.

So they f’d it up.

The Problem

Someone at Rogers thought it would be a stellar idea to mangle the messages sent from their paying customers in two ways, completely crippling the system that worked for years. The marketing department thought they’d get their hands in the mix not realizing their pencilhead ‘great idea’ was going to destroy the system. They made two fatal mistakes:

Embedding 10 Images in a MMS: Mission Possible

I thought it wasn’t possible to include more than one image in an MMS. But Rogers found a way. What Rogers has done is taken my cameraphone image and wrapped it in some dreadfully formatted HTML. They embedded my picture in there somewhere, but also added 9 ‘frames’ to wrap around my pictures. What happens when Facebook and Flickr get this improved email? The reject it of course. It’s only designed to receive one image at a time, or multiple images without any HTML.  So the process fails. I found that out when I tried to email an image to myself. That’s the sourcecode, above.

And below is what my friends see on Facebook.

No, I actually only uploaded 1 image, plus 9 Rogers bullshit images.

Below is what the MMS looks like when I sent it to my Gmail account which did a reasonable job of rendering the frame. Sort of.

Branding

Obviously someone in branding has their panties in a knot and wanted to look good at last month’s status update.

“Look at that Web 2.0 frame with those soft shadows and the coarsy degraded image in the centre”. I will say this, when you right click save as at least the original 3MP image is downloaded and not the image that was resized by the browser with some hard coded px dimensions.

Let’s listen in on the meeting some more.

“Wow, the Rogers logo looks sharp”.

Wait, WTF? A Rogers logo?

This is where I blew my top and spent the last 30 minutes of my 3 hour epic call trying to get to the top of the people in either marketing or branding or social.

“This message is brought to you by Rogers”

From the perspective of me, the customer, the 12 year Rogers veteran customer, who pays for an MMS upgraded service that allows me to send a few hundred picture messages to grandma and my wife, this is a totally inappropriate use of the technology Rogers has chosen to interface between my cel phone service and my social network.

If Rogers was offering me free MMS service, then they can say the text message was “…brought to you by Rogers”. I get that.  But in this case I’m paying for it.

If Rogers had a service that worked they way it used to work like during my trip to Vancouver, then maybe I can give it a pass and let some branding slip through. But its broken the system! The tech support lady confirmed they switched to a new MMS service, and they also slipped they cap the use of MMS to north america only.

Hello? Can you say net-neutrality fail here? Since when does it matter where the email is going? Apparently it matters to Rogers, who has capped your ability to send an MMS outside of North America, plus they slap their branding over my message the I paid for, for the trouble. I’d keep an eye on this, and it’s generally agreed that the internet as we know and love is safe for a while, wireless internet is definitely not. There are ridiculous restrictions on internet use over the phone, but that’s been discussed before. I’d recommend reading Andrew Currie’s blog  and of course Michael Geist’s blog for news on that important topic.

So I’m angry that Rogers changed their service that I use a lot that’s now broken.

I’m very angry that Rogers claimed implied ownership of my content by adding the phrase ‘Brought to you by…’.

I’m angry and tired after spending 3 hours trying to get this message through only to hear that if MMS phone to phone works (which it does), then it’s not their problem, despite the fact that it’s their software that mangled the HTML and introduced 9 images to my message.

They further added insult to injury to suggest I contact Facebook and Flickr to ‘resolve the issue’.

Let’s Resolve This For Rogers Customers

I’m looking for a web developer to create a solution. Rather than send my MMS message to Flickr to be mangled by Rogers and rejected, send the MMS to a website which forwards the cleaned image to Flickr, Facebook, Google+, or whatever. Rogers will still mangle the email, but the software would parse the HTML nonsense and strip it all away, and just send the image as intended.

The MMS message would include the image, the letter ‘fb’ for facebook, ‘f’ for Flickr, ‘g’ for Google+, etc., and be sent to my unique email address on a new domain. The new domain would strip away the placeholder images and HTML, and send along just the image to the requested social service.

And because email is just email (unless it’s being mangled by Rogers) you can send your MMS message to a recipient outside North America.

Payoff

Sadly, not much. The days of regular old featurephones like my beloved LG Shine are limited. But there must be a lot of grandmas and cheapos like me who are also wondering why sending a photo to Flickr is now broke. Any takers? Does this service already exist? I’ve got dozens of images in my phone scratching at the glass to get out. Help!

5 thoughts on “Rogers MMS Nightmare

  • Things are moving quickly!

    After Chris, above, reached out to me on Twitter, I received a call from the Office of the President at Rogers indicating that they’re looking into my concerns, and will report back once they’ve had an opportunity to review.

    This is great news and I’ll publish any appropriate updates as they develop.

  • I had a talk with the Office of the President again and appreciate the time they spent discussing this issue with me. I think it’s a pretty low priority as this issue only deals with customers on feature phones as opposed to iPhones/Android/BlackBerrys with dedicated Facebook/Flickr apps.

    Still, it was great to see them respond so quickly and sincerely and maybe soon someone in the technical department will realize the mistake they made with MMS and fix it.

  • Hi. It’s not just an issue with feature phones. I have an iPhone 4, and any email I send via the SMS gateway gets mangled like this. There are valid reasons why someone might want to SMS to an email address, and not want it to get the multipart MIME marketing treatment.

    Furthermore, the “from” email address is 1@mms.rogers.com. The problem is, that address bounces. The ACTUAL email for the phone is 1@pcs.rogers.com. Why then are they providing a broken “from” address, without at least providing the correct ReplyTo header? Messed up.

    – Andrew.

  • Was this issue ever resolved? Can we remove the message? Is the right to post their message in the contract fine print?

    I am new to Rogers and in the advertising business. My cell plan is a business plan and messages are a reflection on my agency. It is a) completely inappropriate for me to send messages to clients with Rogers branding, b) theft of my work for them to take credit, and c) within my business parameters to invoice any company I promote.

    If the messages are not removable, I will have to invoice them every month for their ads.

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