I am baptised

Telecom New Zealand WAP email

At the time of writing this article, Telecom New Zealand has suspended their WAP email service because of an article published at ZDnet.

It's all my fault, so I thought you might like to hear the story as it is, rather that the fractured bits you might have heard elsewhere.

On 15th March, 2002, I received this email. I've modified some of the headers and names to protect the innocent.

From: "Lastname,Eric,AUCKLAND,Information Services"
To: "''" 
Subject: FW: hope you are enjoying your lunch
Date: Fri, 15 Mar 2002 08:50:36 +1300

Hi Ian,
I got this e-mail, from someone called sophie,
and no, I don't know who she is either 

> -----Original Message-----
> From: O272456O89 []
> Sent: Thursday, 14 March 2002 23:53
> To:   Lastname,Eric,AUCKLAND,Information Services
> Subject:      RE: hope you are enjoying your lunch
> hi this is not who you think. Somehow my phone has allowed me access to
> this 
> persons emails. So i thought id reply to one for fun. Im glad lunch was
> good. 
> Nothing pleases me more than people enjoying themselves. Have a lovely
> life. We 
> probably wont ever meet. Yours always sophie
> >===== Original Message From "Lastname,Eric,AUCKLAND,Supply & Information
> Services"  =====
> >Hi Ian,
> >the lunch was very nice,
> >and the drive to Akaroa was very pleasant,
> >
> >The say the place has a French ambience,
> >but only slightly, I would have expected more effort for a tourist
> >attraction,
> >French food on the menus,
> >more signs in french, that kind of thing.
> >
> >I'm tired after the weekend, I need to be at work to relax
> >
> >See you in Auckland,
> >Eric
> >
> >> -----Original Message-----
> >> From:      O272456O89 []
> >> Sent:      Sunday, 18 November 2001 15:08
> >> To:        Lastname,Eric,AUCKLAND,Supply & Information Services
> >> Subject:   hope you are enjoying your lunch
> >>
> >> good afternoon. I look forward to hearing from you shortly. How was
> >> akaroa? Ian

In November, I'd been in Christchurch with "Eric". He was going on for a few days in Akaroa before going home to Auckland, while I went back to Wellington. The short dialogue about lunch in Akaroa sat in my WAP mailbox for months before "Eric" received the email from Sophie, which he immediately forwarded to me.

I spoke to Ben at Telecom's customer support, who said he would look into it for me, but he didn't get back to me at all. I was vaguely thinking that maybe I should follow up this call. I have a certain sympathy with helpdesk staff as I worked for one once in the dim and distant pat and know that it's largely a thankless task.

I subscribe to a maverick mailing list through the phone which describes itself as Non-sequitur arguments and ad-hominem personal attacks so occasionally I look and see what's the latest there. On either 23rd or 24th April, I was surprised to see four emails obviously addressed to another Telecom 027 user, whose number I won't mention here. I also won't comment on the nature of the emails, except to say that I wouldn't be happy to think that any of my emails on these subjects had been seen by strangers.

I called Telecom again, to be dealt with by Daniel. He insisted that the problem was known, that it was only being experienced by a small number of users under specific circumstances. When asked, he stated that Telecom did not publicise this sort of thing. In my view, he also tried to downplay the issue. By this time, I had experienced my emails being read by someone else and the opportunity to read someone else's. I didn't think it was a laughing matter, so I contacted New Zealand's leading internet columnist, Bruce Simpson, whose site I already advertise prominently on the front page of this site. Bruce wrote extensively about his experience trying to contact Telecom's PR department in his column of 29th April, 2002, but before that he had written the story and sold it to ZDnet. The New Zealand Herald apparently read the story and ran in on Saturday, while TVNZ called Bruce, who passed on the email to me. I contacted Mark Hannan from TVNZ, who called me on Monday to arrange an interview for the six o'clock news. The story was run second on the six o'clock news and again in the late news and the morning business show on Tuesday.

It seemed to take longer to get anywhere today, as people kept buttonholing me and telling me they'd seen it and either telling me how well I did or asking for details.

Most surprising of all, I received a call tonight from Miki Szikszai, the Manager of 3G at Telecom Mobile Limited to discuss the matter.

If there are any further developments to the story. I'll post them here.

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