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The Cost of Free Text Alerts

SEDC helped Little Ocmulgee EMC get out of a big crisis, by enabling AutoCue Paid Text Alerts

In January 2019, Little Ocmulgee Electric Membership Corporation learned the truth of the saying “You get what you pay for” the hard way. “Our Prepaid customers, all of a sudden, stopped getting our free text alerts,” reports Sandra McNeal, Manager of Financial Services at the Georgia-based co-op.

What Little Ocmulgee EMC was dealing with has, unfortunately, become an increasingly common occurrence. It is a crisis a number of utilities have faced, when their cellular service providers permanently, and without warning, cut off their Free Text Alert services. As McNeal explains, “It was a bad situation because our members were not getting any text alerts from us about their bill payment status, and this could result in some unexpected service disconnections and some very dissatisfied members”

Co-op Rescued by Rapid Addition of SEDC AutoCue Paid Text Alerts

“SEDC fixed the problem fast, by adding Paid Text Alerts to our AutoCue Suite and getting it up and running for us within 24 hours,” says McNeal, who adds, “It was a very bad situation because our consumer-members were not getting any text alerts from us about their bill payment status.”

What caused this sudden loss of free texting capabilities? As McNeal explains, “Our large volume of texts being sent triggered our cellular carrier to mark them as solicitation and quit sending them. In the past, our cellular providers were willing to bypass this obstacle, but this time they would not fix it. And they did not offer us any way to resolve the matter.”

Little Ocmulgee was left to find a way to ensure reliable delivery of text alerts. McNeal says, “We had to put something in place, and fast. We reached out to SEDC and to our local carrier to find a solution. SEDC fixed the problem quickly by enabling Paid Text Alerts within our established AutoCue Suite. The service add-on was up and running for us within 24 hours.” McNeal continues, “The solution was wonderful, and all the texts were going out at one time, rather than a few at the time. We are very pleased with the job that SEDC did, getting our co-op out of that situation was a lifesaver.”

Never Anchored Down By Free Text Alerts Again

By having made the switch from free texting of Pre-Pay alerts to utilizing AutoCue to send the alerts via Paid Texting, Little Ocmulgee is now enjoying significant benefits, given the fact that the prior free texting involved a much less reliable and slower email-to-SMS text solution.

Speed matters, and there are built-in delays with delivery of free text alerts, since the cellular provider is obligated to delay delivery to avoid having the texts be labeled as spam. Not only are AutoCue alerts via Paid Texting sent out in a timely fashion, on an “opted-in” basis, in contrast to free texting, they are also dispatched with much higher reliability.

Go Back to Free Text? Not If You Paid Me…

Looking back at the results that came out of SEDC’s response to the crisis, McNeal is grateful, and says, “It was all worthwhile. Even if we could, we won’t be going back to free texting. And even though the crisis that forced us to stop using free texting was unexpected, it produced positive results. We are committed to Paid Texting for good and we are happy about it. And we at LOEMC are very satisfied with the verifiability and reliability of our Paid Texting delivery.”