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E-mail, chat, & VoIP forum: ALERT! Severe bug in Skype's SMS service

by: hamako October 29, 2012 2:46 PM PDT

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ALERT! Severe bug in Skype's SMS service

by hamako - 10/29/12 2:46 PM

I am since 1982 heavy user of computers and had my share of strange and unexpected encounters with software and hardware oddities. But experiencing that from a very valuable tool like SKYPE is new to me. It is about an obvious and uncared for bug in Skype's SMS function, which I did not experience alone (it is discussed in the Skype Forum).

Here is the story. I am in a very important stage of a negotiation for a $26 million business. So no small fish. I had to discuss some matters with my customers and sent a Skype SMS to the CEO and COO of the company with some minutes time difference. Both use different cell phone providers and I have used the SMS function already many times with them before. Normally I do get a "Delivered" message - not this time. The "Sent" message stayed on. However, my customers received the message correctly and contacted me. The problem started then. Every ten to fifteen minutes each of them received the message over and over again. In the meantime more than 100 times. It is rendering SMS function of their cell phones useless, and as busy business people, they are of course up in arms, asking me to stop that. But what can I do? So I went to the Forum of Skype and checked if other people had similar experiences. And they did! So I contacted their Chat help desk - and got the same answer, as all the other unnerved customers.

"When a text is delivered over the telecommunications network, the message center has a retry scheme to cope with issues such as handsets that are turned off or are out of network coverage. The message centre will expect to receive an acknowledgement back from the receiving (handset) end confirming that the message has been received. Once this is received the center stops retrying to send the message.
However, in some rare cases there may be a fault at the receiving (handset) end, and the confirmation is not received by the message centre. Message centers are designed to continue retrying to deliver unreceived messages, so if there is a fault they continue to try to send the message.

In these rare cases, the message center's reports may cause the text to be sent twice or more. This issue lies on the network provider's side and unfortunately Skype cannot control it."

OK, this explanation works with ONE receiving party and ONE network, but with TWO different recipients on two different networks??? Sorry, I do not buy that and so don't others:

"In an effort to stop the repeated receiving of the Skype SMS that I sent to my friend, she followed Skype's advice and contacted her telephone provider, Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd. (BSNL) Mobile, a huge company in India. BSNL Mobile told her that there is nothing they can do to stop it. Skype coded the SMS for repeated sending and it's performing exactly as Skype designed it. This one SMS has now been delivered thousands of times with no end in sight, rendering her phone useless. What a disaster. And all Skype says is that it's "out of their hands!"

"Ughh I am having the same problem. This is ridiculous! I feel terrible for the receiver who is on a land-line. It's been 30 hrs and no end in sight. Hasn't Skype fixed this yet?!!!!!!! What a disaster. Any help out there?"

"Customer Service never varies from Skype's standard and less-than-helpful response that the fault lies in the receiver's phone system by not sending a "received" signal back to Skype. The only resolution they offer is to insist that the receiver (victim) of the SMS deluge must seek help from her telephone service provider. Skype is fully aware that their program does not include a "kill switch" to stop the repeated sending of an SMS after some designated period. They know it's a problem for us, but the cost of fixing it must be more than the cost of losing some business over it."

Again, all the other cases were single recipient cases - in my case I sent two SMS to two different people on two different networks. They actually received the message, but Skype did not stop to send and send and send.... So Skype's explanation does not work, and it is proof that the problem is on their side!

And here I see the problem. Skype is fully aware of the problem and is not offering a solution or at least working on it. This is not about a "refund for my SMS costs", as offered. I think this is professional negligence which can have very, very severe professional and private consequences for their paying customers. If my $26 million dollar deal falls over because of the Skype bug, I will sue them to the moon. I think this is class action material. Any people with the same experience interested to join?

For now, I am just looking for a solution how to stop this insanity. Any ideas?

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