“Become a member of our exclusive club and get ring tones for free”, flashes in bold animated characters across television screens in South Africa. Tucked up in the corner is a little box stating that this is a subscription service – charging you “XXX/per week”. Near the bottom of the screen, against a transparent background, the commercial states “terms and conditions apply”. However, when you take a closer look at the “terms and conditions”, you’ll discover ….
- “Free” airtime minute rates do not apply (because the service provider makes its money from your airtime!).
- Errors billed. This means that when you start downloading a ring tone (after having become a ‘member’ of course), you will still be charged – meaning the service provider will grab your airtime for the download, regardless of whether you have the ring tone or not.
- To become a member, you have to send a SMS to a particular number. After you have done this – at the cost of your SMS – the service provider now has access to you via your cell number.
It takes all types of people to make this world of ours ring true. Some will happily part with their cell numbers without a second thought. My annoyance with “ringtomania” hit the ceiling when the “fart” ringtone was the rave of ringtomalia. In my world, your ringtone is part of “who you are” . Things you like or dislike give others a glimpse of who you are. I was not amused when someone’s phone started “farting” during a workshop I attended yesterday. The workshop dealt with serious issues and the “farting” noise made everyone in the room cringe – it was totally inappropriate under the circumstances.
Advertisements on television always make me smirk, but the ones about the “latest” ring tone that you “must have” because “everyone else has it” invariably make me switch the channel. Besides, how many ring tones do you really need? Although not the most creative, sassy and hip, ring tones “pre-loaded” onto your cellphone should be more than enough. Pick one you like and stick with it. On the other hand, will you at least change it from the standard “Nokia” tone to something less obvious.
Season 1, Episode 1 of “Ringtomania”. Be on the lookout for Episode 2 … soon.