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I don't belong to the texting community, so please forgive my temporary ignorance...
When you hear "Text YOUWIN to 95120", where exactly does that text go? I see it a lot on news shows and hear it on the radio. I can't tell if they are receiving the texts on a computer or mobile phone. Somehow they are tallying the results.
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The text (i.e. SMS) goes to a virtual cellphone (i.e. a computer configured to receive an SMS sent to a specific number). The SMS contains the sender's number (unless it's blocked), so the station can determine via reverse lookup who the caller is and perform whatever tallying it needs to do.
As a follow up, gavindon's post is also valid - the FCC (now) requires any charges associated with a survey number to be explicitly specified in ads.
Normally, sending an SMS should only cost you a minimal amount like 5c - or even zero if the number of SMSs sent are within your quota. However, survey/raffle/contest numbers often cause an extra charge to be tacked on to your phone bill. The phone company collects this from you and passes it on to the party owning the SMS number.
(I realize this wasn't the crux of your original question, but it's worth knowing.)
It means that one of your friends filled out one of those "Win A Free Vacation" post cards in the mall and used your name and address and phone number. That text message is bait to set you up for the scam that is Time Share. You see, you share time. Rather than purchasing a 450k beach home which you will only use 1 week a year you can "share your time" with other like minded individuals. For only $50k you can own a 1/50th share of this marvelous home. What, the TV is CRT? Well the resort is so lovely most guests choose not to stay in their rooms all day. But back to it, all you have to do is pay a reasonably maintenance fee when you visit for the week of $1500 to cover the costs of cleaning, etc. You can even make a profit by renting out your timeshare. See we take the unused timeshares and rent them to tourist for $1600. We then take the extra money and divide it among the owners. This is an exciting opportunity. What? 1/50th of a share at $50k= 2,500k, don't get too hung up on the numbers; see time share is about relaxing and not worrying.
I actually signed up for one of these (a couple hour presentation for a free stay at a hotel). A friend warned me about this too. Is there a catch, as long as I say "no" to any of their "valuable" offers?
From stories I have heard, the sales presentation will be a hard sell, and often the conditions attached to the 'free' gift can make them either expensive, unusable or both.
e.g. Free night at a hotel - it has to be tonight, and you must eat at their restaurant - or the hotel is in another country.
I have also heard of people going tom timeshare presentations on the promise of a free gift, where the small print shows there are a limited number of freebies - and after spending hours on the presentation, followed by many delays and queueing, they are told there's not more TVs to give away - but here's a cheap pen. (Those seen walking out with a lovely new TV (well, at least a box) can be assumed to be on the payroll, I think)
Yeah, don't trust them on the *free gift* presentations. Another one of their favorites is the $1,000 shopping spree. The items may be covered by your spree, but the shipping and handling is outrageous and not covered. A supposedly $495 jacket I looked at had over $250 in shipping and handling that you still had to pay for (couldn't be covered by the spree money).
What I think the question is asking about though is the trips to some low-scale resort where they give you the pitch once you're there. Given that you're getting the trip, it seems like all you have to do is resist the hard sell, but I'd be wary of being a captive audience and of what fees might be involved with the trip.
That being said, a time share is a great opportunity, and there's really no way for you to lose!
check your phone bill. on a LOT of those stupid things, once you text that, you are signed up for a $10 a month service that is charged to your cell bill. They don't need your express permission to do it, you have to take steps to prevent it yourself.
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