T-Mobile apologizes for notification bar ads

March 30, 2012
9

I get the feeling that a lowly software engineer somewhere in the bowels of T-Mobile's corporate headquarters is feeling even lower tonight. After a recent update to the often mandatory T-Mobile MyAccount Android app, users started noticing periodic ads appearing in the Android notification bar. T-Mobile customers were, to put it mildly, ticked. The story hit the tech media after threads on T-Mobile's support forums and Reddit reached into the hundreds. Now T-Mobile seems to have seen the error of its ways, apologizing for the "mistake" and saying that it won't happen again.

Here's the full text of T-Mobile's apology, from TmoNews:

During a recent software update, a message to promote T-Mobile’s free VIP Zone was mistakenly sent to certain customers and appeared on the notification bar for some Android devices. After T-Mobile was made aware of this mistake, the company stopped the notifications. T-Mobile apologizes for the inconvenience this may have caused customers.

T-Mobile claims that ads for the T-Mobile VIP Zone were "mistakenly" sent out to customers' notification bars. To be blunt, that sounds less than likely - sending out an update like that requires some very deliberate calls on Android's APIs, and the chance of them being sent by accident is almost zero. Even so, T-Mobile should get some major brownie points for both recognizing its customers' objections and reacting to them quickly. The squeaky wheel gets the grease.

Notification bar ads are becoming more and more common, and on Android at least, they're considerably more invasive than banner or pop-up ads thanks to being placed in close proximity to legitimate updates like email, texts and music. They're a frequent feature of "free" apps that you really shouldn't download, and at least one Japanese carrier has experimented with the idea itself. We're glad that T-Mobile realized and recitified its mistake so quickly... and we hope that other carriers learn from the example.


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  • http://profiles.google.com/tonycerdais Tony Cerda

    Actually, I can deal with banner ads, but even more offensive than any other type of ad is the type in this article. You’re reading along quickly, because you dont’ have much time (at work), then one of those pop up ads pops up from random words thoughout the article and ruin the whole experience. Then you have to quicly close it out before it starts talking or playing music. I’ve had to withdraw from so many articles suddenly and never knowing how they ended because of those annoying pop ups. To me, those are even more offensive. (This is not a troll, just sharing my point of view on ads).

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=57902506 Jason Brian Chapa

      Use AdBlocker extension in Chrome or Firefox.

      • http://profiles.google.com/tonycerdais Tony Cerda

        Thanks for the reply. I’ll do that on my home computer, but on the computers at my office, we can’t install secondary browsers. I’m reading this stuff quickly before the boss notices. LOL! I like to quickly scan read the articles because I’m a quick reader, but those pop up ads just ruin it when you’re going 100mph then suddenly encounter a brick wall.

  • swayda

    Sprint does this with their uninstallable sprint zone app.

  • ciddy

    “Mistakenly” “to a few” “some Android devices”…
    Is newspeak for:
    “We tried to implement a new annoying ad revenue stream that totally backfired and we’re hoping to not loose customers over it so better hit reverse fasssst!”
    Whoever made the decision to activate this should be fired for blatant incompetence…
    Serve up more of that kind of crap on Android and iOS and other platforms look more and more promising.

  • dilharo

    Google will not tolerate that…the notification area is solely for their ads…..no fkrs should get that place

  • yarrellray

    Yeah this should not be taking place period…

  • Michele

    Instead of fixing the issue, why not removing that useless software from their phones?

  • Richard Sanders

    Couple of things – Notification bar ads can either be integrated using Airpush SDK or the carrier itself programming notification bars ads into its own mandatory apps to promote their other products. As far as Android users and community is concerned notification bar ads have been pretty unpopular to say the least. Developers have even created Apps to detect and block Airpush Ads. In spite of all this it is pretty unclear as to how Airpush claims to be doing so well and paving their ground in mobile advertising. (my understanding from their press publicity pieces and CEO talk.)
    Another new and pretty interesting yet totally opt-in form of mobile advertising I have come across recently is http://www.tooyoou.com Interesting concept but market reviews tell me that they are still in alpha and undergoing business model changes to test the waters with the new concept.