The Inconsiderate Cellphone Company
June 29, 2005 8:37 AM   Subscribe

Ringtones are a growing concern and not just when people don't shut them off. Jamster is a weekly ringtone subscription that advertises to kids on channels like Nick and MTV. Kids are attracted to crazy frogs like a magnet and are using the service without parental permission. Now Britain is launching a new inquiry into Jamster's business practices. And lawyers in California filed a class action lawsuit against the company. But Jamster isn't just some fly-by-night operation trying to milk as much money from kids as they can before regulators crack down. Jamster is owned by VeriSign.

It's also a fair question whether it's worth paying 3 bucks for a few seconds of a song that sounds like a player piano, when it costs less than a buck to get the whole thing on the web (especially now that that crazy frog is a single). Why can't you just pay the 99 cents or whatever to get the song on your phone?
posted by kenneth (77 comments total)

 
Ringtones really irritate me solely for their price. I could have sworn I saw a site that would let you upload an mp3, and then provide a link for your phone to make it a ringtone, but I can't find it.
posted by boo_radley at 9:12 AM on June 29, 2005


The ringtone market is a monstrous revenue generator for Nokia, Ericcson and the other cell makers. And that Jamster crap is total scam marketing. Tiny print flashing for a second that tells people they're subscribing to the service for $5 a month or something unless they stop it themselves.

And it is ludicrous to pay $3 for a crappy snippet of a song when the whole thing only costs $1 on iTunes.

Boo_radley, if you can find that site, definitely post it!
posted by fenriq at 9:18 AM on June 29, 2005


Ringtones really irritate me solely for their price. I could have sworn I saw a site that would let you upload an mp3, and then provide a link for your phone to make it a ringtone, but I can't find it.

This?
posted by kafziel at 9:22 AM on June 29, 2005


Somebody already did post it, and it's great. I loaded my phone up with several cool MIDIs.
posted by BoringPostcards at 9:22 AM on June 29, 2005


Why can't you just pay the 99 cents or whatever to get the song on your phone

because ringtones are the largest profit center in the cellular market. a gartner study last year put ringtones at over 90% of all cell services profits worldwide. so, not only largest profit center, but the large majority of all profit centers.
posted by 3.2.3 at 9:27 AM on June 29, 2005


On a related note; Has anyone seen the *text 238724* for a daily joke commercial?? I noticed yesterday that at the bottom in small print you have to text *stop joke 247353* to quit the subscription!! So apparently it charges you 99c a day everyday!
posted by ackeber at 9:54 AM on June 29, 2005


Why can't you just pay the 99 cents or whatever to get the song on your phone

Because there are plenty of people dumb enough to pay the $3 and someone has decided it's more profitable to go with all the $3 people than expand their market and get less profit per unit. Seems straightforward to me, and as it means less people with stupid ringtones I'm not complaining.
posted by biffa at 10:07 AM on June 29, 2005


Anyone who uses those services deserves to be ripped off and I feel absolutely no pity for them. Unless your ringtone is "ring ring" or vibrate, you are a worthless human being.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 10:08 AM on June 29, 2005


My cellphone provider (Telus) does 'channel-locking', meaning that without going to extreme lengths, I can not purchase ringtones or cellphone wallpaper from anyone but them or their 'approved' suppliers. This means A) I can't create my own midi ringtones, which I would like to do, B) I have to pay inordinate amounts for crap, and C) they give no method to preview the ringtones so I have to pay for crap that if I'd heard it previously I would have paid for.

Unfortunately, I have to stick with this provider since I travel into quite rural areas and their coverage in those areas is better than the competition (at this point, anyway).

I've attempted the hack the phone with a USB cable (which the provider doesn't sell; I bought it off eBay), without success so far.
posted by Kickstart70 at 10:12 AM on June 29, 2005


Unless your ringtone is "ring ring" or vibrate, you are a worthless human being.

That's meanspirited and judgemental and I completely agree.
posted by selfmedicating at 10:14 AM on June 29, 2005


The ringtone market is a monstrous revenue generator for Nokia, Ericcson and the other cell makers.

How do cellphone manufacturers profit from the ringtone market? As far as I can see, the issue with the Jamster thing is not that they're selling ringtones but that they're scamming people into paying 5 dollars a month for their service. I see no problem with offering ringtones for sale, not even for kids. Just slap the kids with a suitable technically enforced monthly phone-bill limit and they'll learn to control their ringtone purchases along with other calls.
posted by lazy-ville at 10:21 AM on June 29, 2005


I always laugh when I see a man who uses ringtones. It's like, "Dude, you have pockets. Use vibrate mode for crissakes!" Women have an excuse, though, since half the time they wear clothes that don't have pockets.
posted by afroblanca at 10:38 AM on June 29, 2005


For me and other imbecill Scandinavians and Continental Europeans: Jamster and Jamba is the same company. (Yes, I had to go check...but then I'm not that bright, really.)
posted by mr.marx at 10:46 AM on June 29, 2005


Unless your ringtone is "ring ring" or vibrate, you are a worthless human being.

My ringtone is Beat on the Brat by the Ramones and I am a worthless human being. Growing more worthless by the minute. I just kicked a baby at a nun.

"Dude, you have pockets. Use vibrate mode for crissakes!"


Do you sleep with your pants on and your cell phone in your pocket? I like to take things out of my pockets when I get home, and not always be within detect vibration distance of my phone, although I was tempted to get a big wok and put the phone in there for some serious head inside big ben cartoon vibration action.

Actually as soon as I find a regular ring-ring tone that doesn't make me wanna kill myself, it's adios Joey and the boys and hello adulthood again, my phone shipped with six rings that all sound like incoming calls from hello kitty. But I do enjoy pissing people off (myself included) by having a ring tone.
posted by Divine_Wino at 10:49 AM on June 29, 2005


What really irked me was the fact that my new phone came loaded with obnoxious musical tones, and no plain rings. Most of them were, in fact, obnoxious musical tones that featured animal noises. A techno jam featuring a cat meowing? Really?

I was forced to pay my $3 for a plain "ring ring" so I don't look like an idiot when my phone rings in public.
posted by ScottUltra at 10:56 AM on June 29, 2005


The thing that has always amazed me about the ringtone market, is how some of the most popular tones incorporate either flatulence, silly voices, or obnoxious animals.

Are there really that many morons using these kind of tones, and how far do I have to move to get away from them?

What are they, like 5 years old?
posted by mr.curmudgeon at 11:04 AM on June 29, 2005


The ringtone market is a monstrous revenue generator for Nokia, Ericcson and the other cell makers.

How do cellphone manufacturers profit from the ringtone market?


lazy-ville, you're right--the handset manufacturers don't make money from ringtones. Nokia's tried and failed repeatedly to get into the mobile content business without success.

a gartner study last year put ringtones at over 90% of all cell services profits worldwide. so, not only largest profit center, but the large majority of all profit centers.

I don't buy it. Mobile data services (like tones, games, browsing etc), while a growing piece of the mobile operator revenue pie are still small compared to the money made sellign voice plans. Within the mobile data revenue bucket ringtones are certainly the biggest revenue source with estimates of $3-4 billion worldwide this year.

While it may seem cuckoo to pay $3 for a snippet of a song you can buy for $0.99 dont' think of ringtones as "music" they're "fashion."
posted by donovan at 11:05 AM on June 29, 2005


kafziel and boringpostcards win!
posted by boo_radley at 11:06 AM on June 29, 2005


Hey Optimus, how can a ringtone be vibrate? One's a noise and the other's a motion. Come on, I need to know because I don't want to be a "worthless human being".

Actually, nevermind. Your opinion's not worth much if you base your judgments of people on such trivial issues as ringtones.
posted by fenriq at 11:19 AM on June 29, 2005


No no fenriq, only judge people on trivial things like what their ringtone is, that's how you become a tedious hipster knowitall. And then the world is your oyster (Bluepoint or PEI).
posted by Divine_Wino at 11:23 AM on June 29, 2005


That's meanspirited and judgemental

Nothing wrong with that (in this context). This whole issue is moronic. Not the post or the poster, mind you, just the fact that ANYONE CARES what the phone sounds like when it rings.

Passing judgment is ok sometimes.
posted by scratch at 11:33 AM on June 29, 2005


My ringtone is Beat on the Brat by the Ramones and I am a worthless human being

The Ramones are great; the Ramones-as-ringtone is too lame for words.

Your opinion's not worth much if you base your judgments of people on such trivial issues as ringtones.

Awesome; incidentally, thanks for letting everyone in a mile-wide radius enjoy your 130 dB MIDI-style renditions of such hits as "Who Let the Dogs Out" and "Whoomp! There It Is."
posted by Optimus Chyme at 11:47 AM on June 29, 2005


(P.S. I know you were tongue in cheek, DW)
posted by Optimus Chyme at 11:49 AM on June 29, 2005


You will all learn to fear my tuvan throat singing ringtone.
posted by boo_radley at 11:50 AM on June 29, 2005


The cell phone manufacturers are not the ones profiting off ringtones, it's the service providers. In fact, manufacturers include all kinds of cool features in phones just like the one you have, but the service providers lock out these built in features so they can charge you more. Many modern phones have the ability to add custom [made by you even!] wallpaper, midi, mp3 ringtones, etc. with a data cable and your computer. You could get much more utility out of something you already own, so google your model and check out sites like howardforums.com.
posted by roboto at 11:52 AM on June 29, 2005


My ringtone is Beat on the Brat by the Ramones...

jonmc, is that you?
posted by The Card Cheat at 11:54 AM on June 29, 2005


My phone plays the bridge of "Bohemian Rhapsody," starting from the piano solo, when it rings. And it's no MIDI, either-- full MP3, with Freddie Mercury himself. Optimus, you'll hear it, and you'll love it.
posted by Faint of Butt at 11:56 AM on June 29, 2005


> Unless your ringtone is "ring ring" or vibrate, you are
> a worthless human being.

Personally, I think anyone who owns a cell phone is a
worthless human being. The damn things are like
being electronically tagged and paying for the privilege.

If you can't get me at my desk, I don't want to be gotten.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:03 PM on June 29, 2005


Aye, Faint of Butt, I have proper mp3's too.
I have vibrate a few times and then an mp3 starts playing (since I am a girl and don't always have pockets...). I put the mp3's (many!) on my phone for free via bluetooth. I do my very best to answer the phone before the mp3 starts playing because the current tiune has an uncanny ability to stick to my brain.. You'll hate me for even mentioning what it is... yes it's.... Aaaah Ring-ring-ding-dong ding Banana Phone!. Ding dong ding dong ding, Banana Phone!
posted by dabitch at 12:15 PM on June 29, 2005




Optimus I was not being tongue in cheek, but in that vein you can certainly give me head till I'm dead. I couldn't possibly care less what you think of my choice of ringtone or anything else for that matter. You can, however, continue to underline my point about tedious hipster knowitalls and their cooler than thou hobbyhorses. I've cracked surreptitious elevator farts with more intellectual credibility than you.
posted by Divine_Wino at 12:20 PM on June 29, 2005


Actually, Optimus, my cellphone's been upgraded to a 145 decibel ringtone playing a mashup of Britney, Christina and J.Lo. And yes, the harem of teenage supermodels that rolls with me go wild everytime they hear it.
posted by fenriq at 12:31 PM on June 29, 2005


Fenriq and D_Wino are my heros for the day.

Mine varies between Snoop Dogg (because I relish the irony of having Snoop tell me to pick up the phone) and the "fucking merlot" line from Sideways.

So, yeah, whatever Optimus. Keep fighting the battle dude.
posted by tr33hggr at 12:34 PM on June 29, 2005


My ringtone is I Wanna Be Sedated, which is always appropriate and makes people jump. All good.
*high fives divine_wino*
posted by mygothlaundry at 12:40 PM on June 29, 2005


Regardless of the lameness of ringtones, I HATE jamster. They have stupid annoying commercials full of stupid annoying ringtones and the spots play twice per commercial break, every commercial break. They're obviously targeted at kids, and they bill every week so that by the time the parent finds out about it at the end of the month they've already been chanrged two or three times.
posted by Nothing at 12:46 PM on June 29, 2005


I generally want my ring tone to be (1) loud enough to be distinguished from ambient noise, (2) distinct enough to be distinguished from ambient noise, and (3) not make me want to claw my ears out. It's convenient to have different tones for different categories of caller, but hard to find enough that match (3)...
posted by Karmakaze at 12:55 PM on June 29, 2005


Just to point out, the reason we have ringtones is so that you know who's phone is ringing. If everyone has the same ringtone, then everyone has to check their phone when it goes off.

Also, the provider lockin for the ringtones is super-weak. I don't know how these service providers get away with locking down the phones that people pay for...
posted by delmoi at 12:59 PM on June 29, 2005


I've cracked surreptitious elevator farts with more intellectual credibility than you.

Maybe you can quote Monty Python at me next. That would be a real zinger.

Why so defensive? Ring tones are dumb. End of story. I don't care that you think Smash Mouth's "All Star" is the peak of Western civilization; I don't need to fucking hear it at a restaurant or the movie theater or the dentist. Everyone involved in that industry - from the company executives to the banner ad designers to, ultimately, the dumbshit drones who buy that crap - is an annoying twat.

Mine varies between Snoop Dogg (because I relish the irony of having Snoop tell me to pick up the phone) and the "fucking merlot" line from Sideways.

Oh man that is cool maybe you could download something from Napoleon Dynamite ahahahah oh listen to to this he's saying 'this one gang kept wanting me to join because I'm pretty good with a bo staff' holy shit that is new and fresh
posted by Optimus Chyme at 1:01 PM on June 29, 2005


Wow, Optimus, you sure are wise. Ringtones suck, Smash Mouth sucks, Napoleon Dynamite sucks...if we didn't have you around to form our opinions for us, I don't know how we'd choose clothing in the morning or manage to feed ourselves. So, are you calling yourself "Mr. Second Coming" yet?
posted by Kickstart70 at 1:07 PM on June 29, 2005


ever take your ringtone off any sweet jumps?
posted by cpchester at 1:08 PM on June 29, 2005


No, Kickstart70, I'm pretty sure he always comes first. ZING?

Anyway just wanted to duck in and see if my post had resurfaced -- and I am pleased to see that it has. If you must have obnoxious ringtones (and I know I must have my Futurama ringer for hipster pretense cred et al.), don't pay $3 for a repackaged sound-bite. That really is stupid.
posted by jenovus at 1:11 PM on June 29, 2005


I haven't had a cell phone for awhile, I can't wait to get one again, because I've been really hankering to put "Milkshake" on as the ringtone. Its perfect, and I still find myself singing it all the time.
posted by Snyder at 1:12 PM on June 29, 2005


* Daps Mygothlaundry like they did at the end of the opening credits in 21 Jump Street, with the birds fly up and they shoot them down, does the skinhead moonstomp to Takin' Retards to the Zoo by the Meatmen, whirs around and falls down*

Nothing,
Yeah that does suck, number 64 million in the if it increases shareholder value do it hard and often playbook.

Optimus
If that would make you feel good about yourself I can quote some python, I'm a bit rusty. Now that you've aired your views about pop culture and the people that consume it perhaps you can return to whatever cryptic bit of marginalia that makes you such a superior person. In the interest of not carrying this any further lets leave it at this: You think I'm a twat and I am dead certain that your ability to critique my personality, life and musical tastes based on a ringtone proves without question what an awesome, interesting and teddibly teddibly astute person you are. Kisses., you fucking vonce.
posted by Divine_Wino at 1:14 PM on June 29, 2005


I think we need to use text to speech tools to convert Optimus' derisions into ringtones, especially where he got all Roast Beef on us.
posted by boo_radley at 1:22 PM on June 29, 2005


Optimus, you have changed my life. It's so nice to know that what's been missing was your oh-so-insightful critique of all that I am. Where should I send the check, and can I enroll in your 15-week program to continue to better myself, you all-knowing insolent little prick?
posted by tr33hggr at 1:23 PM on June 29, 2005


/haven't even seen Napoleon Dynamite, so fuck you, k?
posted by tr33hggr at 1:23 PM on June 29, 2005


Oh my god you people are getting so up in arms about something that, in the end, pisses me off just as much as people who have a cell phone that just vibrates.

When all is said and done, the retard boor talking loudly into his phone that just played "In Da Club" is just as annoying to me as the retard boor talking loudly into his phone that just buzzed his leg.
posted by wakko at 1:27 PM on June 29, 2005


/haven't even seen Napoleon Dynamite, so fuck you, k?
posted by tr33hggr at 1:23 PM PST on June 29


Oh, you should see it. It was a pretty funny little movie. :)
posted by Optimus Chyme at 1:30 PM on June 29, 2005


My colleague has an MP3 ringtone of someone saying, "brrrrrrring! brrrrrrrring!". It's my favorite ringtone evar.
posted by mullingitover at 1:30 PM on June 29, 2005


I set this as my ringtone and it didn't cost me a penny. Irritating? Why of course, except no one ever calls me.
posted by dodgygeezer at 1:31 PM on June 29, 2005


I want a ringtone that says "Optimus is always right, Optimus has always been right. We are at war with tr33huggr. We have always been at war with tr33hggr. And you're a loser."

Oh and wakko, not everyone who uses a cellphone is disrespectful of people around them. Some people actually try to put some distance between themselves and others. And some people, shock of shocks, need to use a cellphone to conduct their business. But that is a lovely straw man you constructed there.
posted by fenriq at 2:08 PM on June 29, 2005


I want a ringtone that says "Optimus is always right, Optimus has always been right. We are at war with tr33huggr. We have always been at war with tr33hggr. And you're a loser."

I'll split that with you, can we get it over the beat of the techno version of my heart will go on?


ever take your ringtone off any sweet jumps?

Lovely, really, that was the best one cpchester. Bravissimo.
posted by Divine_Wino at 2:15 PM on June 29, 2005


And then I will be famous.
posted by tr33hggr at 2:20 PM on June 29, 2005


I must say that -- oops, sorry, cell phone going off.
posted by davejay at 2:21 PM on June 29, 2005


as I was saying (I wasn't kidding, it did go off) I must say that -- dammit, hangon.

hello? what now? no. is your window down? I can barely hear you. are you calling just to tell me you're eating? hang on.

Sorry, gotta take this.
posted by davejay at 2:27 PM on June 29, 2005


I have it on very good authority that Optimus Chyme's ringtone is 'Can You Dig It' by pop will eat itself.

True story.
posted by Sparx at 2:51 PM on June 29, 2005


holy granoly, this thread makes me feel old. Ringtones definitely come off as something "the kids are doing these days", not as an actual, useful service. IOW, what donovan said (about 'fashion').

jonmc, is that you?

oh my god, there is such a difference between liking a song and using a song as a ringtone. such a completely ginormous difference. It seems belittling to a song to use it as a ringtone, actually... but as I said already, this whole conversation makes me feel like an old fart.

(not to speak for jonmc, if in fact he is a ringtone kinda guy, but just making the point that one can certainly adore a song without ever having had even the very slightest inclination toward putting it onto a phone)
posted by mdn at 3:02 PM on June 29, 2005


Face it, everyone thinks your ring tone is lame, but only Optimus cares about you enough to be brutally honest. The sincerely offended responses are funny, though. No, you're not actually a worthless person because of your ring tone -- that's called hyperbole. But your ring tone is still lame. It's a fact of life. Good songs are good songs, not good ring tones.

On preview: what mdn said (minus the old part).
posted by ludwig_van at 3:18 PM on June 29, 2005


Well I'm old enough to have seen the Ramones live at the end of the 80's if that's worth anything. I've never intended to belittle any song by the method in which it was conveyed. I used to listen to Public Enemy on a spanish language lab mono tape deck and I would hate to think they'd be hurt by that.

I like beat on the brat ok, it's not my fave, just thought it was funny to have it until I can get something more sober, because my job calls for me not to be having the ramones come on in case I forget to turn the ringer off, but I just kinda started swinging because the All of X (cultural thing) is stupid because I don't like it blanket statements piss me off. People can be jerks no matter what their phone plays. Personally I have manners.
posted by Divine_Wino at 3:19 PM on June 29, 2005


I guess this is why we'll never have world peace.
posted by Divine_Wino at 3:20 PM on June 29, 2005


People can be jerks no matter what their phone plays.

That's true. I'm sure there are plenty of wonderful people out there with really tacky, obnoxious ring tones. That's why we should all help to spread awareness. The power is yours!
posted by ludwig_van at 3:21 PM on June 29, 2005


you know what I don't get? fancy car rims. what a waste of money. if you buy a set of fancy chrome rims for your car, then you are dumb. no exceptions!
posted by mcsweetie at 3:32 PM on June 29, 2005


you know what I don't get? fancy car rims. what a waste of money. if you buy a set of fancy chrome rims for your car, then you are dumb. no exceptions!

That is totally true, I take back everything I said before, people who buy rims should be shot in the crotch with a .22 hollowpoint. Especially when they have a shitty car and they get those rims that keep spinning even if the car isn't moving, I wish those people would get third degree cancer of the torso and face.
posted by Divine_Wino at 3:36 PM on June 29, 2005


This is what the record companies get for killing off the singles market.
posted by First Post at 3:38 PM on June 29, 2005


I agree, mcsweetie.
posted by ludwig_van at 3:38 PM on June 29, 2005


fun is ok. If people want to spend their money on things they enjoy, well, it is a mostly free country.

"chyme"- the semifluid mass of partly digested food expelled by the stomach into the duodenum. He just forgot what direction he was headed in so it came out as spew.
posted by pointilist at 4:03 PM on June 29, 2005


If I get another cellphone, I'm definitely getting me one of them there "brrrrnnnng brrrrnnnng" ringtones mentioned earlier. Or maybe the Star Trek combadge chirp and a sexy voice saying "Dax to Bligh".

Okay, not really that second one. Probably.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 4:16 PM on June 29, 2005


Howard Forums

There's a link to Howard Forums, a resource for cell-phone customization. That's where I learned to make my own ringtones for free. (After the purchase of a USB dongle to connect my phone to my PC.) I'm sure it's been posted before.

But if people want to continue purchasing ringtones, I guess that's good news for whoever they employ to make the ringtones.
posted by Colloquial Collision at 4:33 PM on June 29, 2005


I don't get people who don't like pancakes.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 4:35 PM on June 29, 2005


The whistles? The whistles go WOOOOOOOOO!!

It's just for decoration, that's it and that's all.
posted by roboto at 4:38 PM on June 29, 2005


Haha, PhoneBashing.com is still up! Internet classic.
posted by roboto at 4:41 PM on June 29, 2005


The flows, you gotta deck out the flows.
posted by ludwig_van at 4:57 PM on June 29, 2005


EB: You don't want either of those *does Jedi hand wave*.

You want Mr. T saying "RING! RING! RING RING, FOOL!"

(I'm gonna make a fortune with my idea for self-checkout machines with celebrity voices. It'll feature Mr. T (Put it in the bag, fool!) and James Earl Jones (THIS is James Earl Jones. THAT is a bottle of coke. Put it in the bag. THAT is hemorrhoid cream. Put it in the bag.) and Elvis and a host of others.)
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:12 PM on June 29, 2005


I don't understand the concept of buying Mp3 ringtones and wallpapers for your phone.

I have a bluetooth connection to my phone and I've uploaded a fairly quiet unobnoxious track from this quartet, and I use this disturbing yet beautiful image as my wallpaper...

And I didn't pay a single cent. You don't even need to be tech savvy to do this either, I'm suprised people seem to think they can't do anything to their phone without paying some awful awful company like Jamster to do it for them.
posted by JGreyNemo at 6:16 PM on June 29, 2005


I always thought that were I to own a cellphone I would grab a .wav off my Babylon 5 CD-ROM. It has many incidental machine/computer beeps to be distinct, yet not overbearing. Then I would try to not talk while walking around which annoys me as a non-cell phone user.
posted by infowar at 6:55 PM on June 29, 2005


Lily Tomlin: One ringy-dingy, two ringy-dingy...

Is it still child abuse if you beat your kid for wasting money on ring tones?

/old fart
posted by Goofyy at 2:05 AM on June 30, 2005


Verisign is pulling the "penny shaving scam" via FRAUDULENT BILLING.

I have first hand experience. I bought 5 phones on one of those family plan deals. I only use one phone, so I threw the other 4 SIM cards in a drawer. 6 months later Jamster charges showed up on on a phone numbers I've NEVER USED.

If there are millions of cell phone users, how many will catch $2 in the detail of a 14 page phone bill?
posted by dand at 9:55 AM on June 30, 2005


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