20-30 blank texts every day

I have an Alcatel Onetouch flip phone. I started using Ting last weekend and since then, I have received upwards of 30 blank text messages every day from a number of my friends who are smart phone users. Often, I will get 2-3 blank texts at the same time each day (i.e. I get 2 blank texts from one of my friends every day at 2:20 a.m. and 2:21 a.m. and 3 blank texts every day from the same friend at 4:50 p.m., 4:51 p.m., and 4:52 p.m.). The fact that I'm receiving a specific number of blank text bubbles at regular exact intervals makes me think that these are not messages that are being sent and missed, but that this has something to do with the functionality between their phones and mine. I am being charged by Ting for these texts. Please help me figure out how to stop receiving 30 blank texts (and increasing) every day. Thank you!

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30 comments
  • Hey Matthew, 

    That's really strange, and would definitely make a difference on your Ting bill. When you have a moment, reach out to us at ting.com/support so we can take care of that part of it. 

    As for actually figuring out what's going on, is it just the same person every time? And do you happen to know what kind of phone they're using?

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  • Hi Mitch,

    Thanks for responding so quickly. It's more than one person (at this point it's about 6-7 people) but their blank text bubbles are coming in at different intervals (i.e. I get a blank text from Person A every day at 2:20 a.m. and 2:20 p.m. but I get 2 blank texts from Person B every day at 4:51 p.m. and 4:52 p.m.). Most of them are using iPhones but I think at least one of them is using a Samsung Galaxy. I'm using an Alcatel OneTouch Fling. Thanks!

    Best,

    Matt

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  • Also, it's only people who have previously sent me a text. In other words, John Johnson is in my contacts list, but hasn't texted me since I switched to Ting. I don't receive blank texts from him. However, I received my first text message from Jack Jackson on Monday, and since then I have been receiving 3-6 blank texts from him each day.

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  • I ran your symptoms through our supercomputer in Toronto (by which I just mean I looked around at our internal support database) and discovered something that might be of interest. 

    Do you have data turn off for the phone in question? If you do, do you have MMS turned off?

    I only ask because on feature phones like the Alcael OneTouch flip, MMS comes through as one text message, and the subsequent data (picture, group message, video, audio). On a smartphone, it only uses data. 

    If both settings are off, you might be getting the text message part of whatever message their phone has tried to send, but not the data portion. The intervals might be explained by the network retrying the message. 

    Can you confirm the settings on your Ting dashboard and report back?

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  • Thanks, Mitch. Yes, you are correct -- I have both data usage and MMS turned off for this phone. Would I need to turn these features on to stop receiving these blank texts?

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  • It's the first troubleshooting step I would take before recommending anything else on the account or the phone.

    If that fails to fix it, you can send an email to help@ting.com and let me know here that you've sent it. I or someone on my team will intercept your email and we'll move to the next troubleshooting steps.

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  • Thanks. I'll try it. It's not a perfect solution since it feels like I'm having to choose between paying for data or paying for blank texts this way. My hope was to have a phone that doesn't use data. I am optimistic we can keep working towards an ideal solution.

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  • I absolutely agree. This would more or less be just troubleshooting to see if it is MMS or data that is causing these phantom messages. Once we're aware of the issue, we can move forward with a workable solution.

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  • Sounds good :) I enabled data and MMS messages - I'll circle back by tomorrow with updates. Thanks!

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  • I've already gotten a lot of old picture messages rolling in, so I think you're probably right. These were likely picture/media messages that their networks couldn't send and have been trying to resend on an interval of 12 or 24 hours. I'll give another update tomorrow.

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  • That's excellent news. I look forward to your update.

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  • Old picture and media messages continued to roll in throughout the evening and night. Unfortunately, now I'm having trouble getting my phone to turn on. I attempted to make a phone call this morning and was told that the caller couldn't hear me (I attempted the call multiple times and toggled the mute function to make sure I wasn't accidentally on mute). I performed a "soft restart" by turning my phone off, removing the battery, waiting 30 seconds, replacing the battery, and turning the phone back on. When I turned the phone on, it brought up the start up screen and has been stuck on that screen for nearly 2 hours. Every 10 seconds or so the screen will flicker black as if it's refreshing its power cycle and then going back to the start up screen. I can't get past this screen. No idea if this has anything to do with the flood of old picture/media messages or not, but I'm going to attempt to route my calls and texts to my old smartphone that I still have until I can get this phone functioning. I haven't had a great experience with this phone (Alcatel OneTouch Fling) so far, so I'm looking into other feature phone options.

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  • Hi Matthew,

     Mitch is off for the day so I'm just going to jump in here. It's good that the messages were coming through and that seemed to be sorted now we just need to figure out why the phone is giving you a hard time with powering on. 

     From my experience, a phone can be trapped in this loop due to a charge being stuck on the phone. It's kind of hard to explain but basically, the phone thinks that there is no power or too much power in its system and is afraid to operate properly because of its fail-safes. There is a way to attempt to fix this and it is getting out any charge that is on the phone.  To do this you'll want:

    1) Remove the battery from the phone and make sure that the phone is NOT connected to the charger or anything else.

    2) Locate the prongs that connect the phone to the battery on the phone

    3) Using your thumb or index finger lightly make contact with the prongs

    4) While your fingers are there hold the power button for ten seconds.

     

    What this does is clean out any charge that could be stuck on the phone. After this still, give it a couple moments then put the battery back in and see if it loads up properly now. If it still doesn't there has to be something more going on. 

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  • Hi Bryce,

    I followed these instructions and the phone is still stuck in a bootloop.

    Best,

    Matt

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  • Hmmm, if that didn't work it might be something more. The only thing that I can think of doing is a master reset but that is going to cause you to lose everything on the phone (photos, contacts etc). Before you do that I would suggest giving our customer service a call so that we can run through all the trouble steps one last time before the reset to make sure there is nothing else we can do. 

    If there isn't another phone to use to call we do have an online chat feature that can be used. 

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  • Thanks. I don't have another phone to call from right now so I initiated a chat with Customer Support.

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  • Squash one bug, and another is right behind it. 

    Sorry for the odd experience, Matthew. It's really not common for that model to experience boot loops. We've got several hundred active on Ting with no noticeable issues. Sometimes it's just luck of the draw. 

    Glad to hear you're already in touch with support on a return and looking for something else. I already confirmed the Nokia 3310 will work. Do you have any requirements other than strictly talk and text functionality? Because there are some other devices that'll do those things but rely on more frequencies, giving you better coverage overall.

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  • Hi Mitch,

    Thanks for following up. Talk and text is all I'm looking for. I'm not planning to use my phone to view email, use social media apps, etc. However, I'd like a phone that I can buy new. Pretty much everything else that I've found online (through Amazon, eBay, wherever) has been a refurbished phone resold by vendors in China or somewhere else and there are a lot of reviews on those products saying they received a phone with cosmetic damage, nonfunctioning keys, battery issues, etc etc. After the poor experience I've had with a refurbished feature phone, I want to purchase something new that I know will be reliable, and Nokia brick phones have a great history of reliability. That said, I'm open to suggestions. Thanks!

    Best,

    Matt

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  • Do you have a preference on network?

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  • I have no preference on network; whatever has good coverage in Middle Tennessee (Nashville area) is fine by me. Thanks, Mitch, for your patient and thorough assistance. It is greatly appreciated!

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  • Something that utilizes a SIM card would be good, actually, in case I end up having to switch phones again. The customer care representative I worked with while troubleshooting my Alcatel told me that CDMA phones don't use SIM cards (which seems suspect to me, because when I ordered my phone it was listed as including a SIM card; however, I didn't receive one). Since there's no SIM card in the phone I'm using, I'll have to re-enter all of my contacts manually. Something with a SIM card would help me avoid that problem going forward.

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  • You're welcome, Matt. I take this kind of stuff very seriously.

    3G-only phones on our CDMA network don't use SIM cards, that's correct. I see the page you're talking about. I think the part about that phone including a SIM card is a misprint. 

    If you still have it, you can use the Bluetooth feature to send contacts between most basic phones and some flip phones.

    For GSM flip phones, the A392 isn't a bad option if you want to stay current with something you know is Ting-compatible.

    Looking at the GSMArena phone finder, there are 54 phones that tick your boxes. Not every phone available is on here, but it should get you started. The Nokia 3310 is getting an LTE refresh, but I don't see it available anywhere yet. The existing model should work great for calls and texts while our 2G is active, which is a few years more at least.

    That's got my vote of confidence right now, provided you purchase from somewhere with a forgiving return policy, just in case it's not exactly what you're looking for. As with many things, you won't know if it's perfect until it's in your hands or attached to your face.

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  • Thanks, Mitch. Yes, looks like the LTE update for Nokia 3310 is being tested in China only right now. I'm getting ready to order a new Nokia 3310 3G from Best Buy, so I'm not terribly concerned about their return policy. Do I need to receive a Ting SIM card to use the Nokia? 

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  • Hi Mitch,

    My Nokia 3310 is arriving in the mail today. Do I need to have a Ting GSM SIM card sent to me? Thanks.

    Best,

    Matt

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  • You will. Sorry for the delayed reply. Send an email to help@ting.com and let me know when you've sent it. I'll pick it up on that end and get that SIM shipped out to you ASAP.

    Alternately, if you absolutely need it today, check the Best Buy closest to you. The $30 credit attached to these SIMs is only for a brand new line of service, but I'll cover the cost of the SIM in Ting credit once you're up and running.

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  • Thanks, Mitch. I just sent that email to help@ting.com (I actually forwarded our message thread for reference). Please let me know what else you need from me.

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  • Matt, 

    I've followed up with you via email to confirm a few things on your account. With those confirmed via our regular help request process, I can send you the SIM card.

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  • Thanks, Mitch. Is there a way I can confirm that information privately instead of on a public forum?

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  • I'm sorry, I thought the email I received was about a reply on this thread. I'll reply to your email now. My mistake.

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  • Yes. Replying to the email I sent you will send the information to me and only me. The email should have come from help@ting.com

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