A new program that lets cellphone users send text messages to donate to the American Red Cross in major natural disasters has come under fire by a consumer group that contends the program is a business development strategy masquerading as charity.
It enables customers of participating wireless companies to enter the code 24357, or 2HELP, to make $5 donations to the Red Cross in natural disasters. Donations are added to monthly cellphone statements or debited from prepaid accounts.
The consumer group’s complaint?
… each donation is capped at $5 and will incur standard text-messaging fees, which on AT&T are 15 cents. If you want to contribute $20, you have to send four text messages and you’ll be billed for four text messages, Mr. Court said.
The Red Cross makes two awesome points in its defense.
First, most people’s cell phone plans include at least some text messages in their contracts.
And, even better, an AT&T spokesman points out if you were going to make a donation to the Red Cross by mail, you’d have to pay for a stamp, anyway.
“This gets the money there faster and is much cheaper.”
Source: Group Questions Cellphone Fund-Raising – By Stephanie Strom, The New York Times