Messaging App Remind and Verizon Resolve Dispute Over Fee, Free Texting Service to Continue
After talks between school messaging app Remind and Verizon were stalled this past week, the education company and the phone carrier have come to a solution over a text messaging fee that threatened to end Remind’s free texting service for Verizon customers.
Verizon announced Thursday that the company would not charge any additional fees to Remind for text messages sent over its platform. The messaging app, which had previously stated that it would be discontinuing free texting for Verizon customers on Jan. 28 as a result of the fee, reported that there would be no service disruption after all.
Remind, which offers communication services for schools, is used by educators across the country to send out notices about assignments or updates about emergency events like school closures. The company estimates that its app is used in more than 80 percent of U.S. schools.
Users can send in-app messages or updates via email, but they also have the option to receive SMS texts from the platform. The company has a free version of the app for individual teachers and classrooms to use, and a paid model for entire schools or districts.
Earlier this month, Remind announced that it would no longer be able to offer texting on its free plan for any customers using Verizon networks, as the phone carrier planned to charge an additional fee to the company for those messages. Remind estimated that 7 million of their users would be affected.
Remind wasn’t the only company facing this fee—Verizon had planned to impose the additional cost on all app-to-text services. The carrier had said that the fee would underwrite the costs associated with protecting against spammers, who use these same mass messaging capabilities to send unwanted robotexts.
In response, teachers, school districts, and parent-teacher organizations took to Twitter, urging Verizon to rethink the change. Using the hashtag #ReverseTheFee, educators explained why the app was an indispensable tool in their work.
Following the social media outcry, Verizon offered Remind a deal: The carrier wouldn’t charge the messaging company a fee for any messages sent between families and educators at K-12 organizations.
But Remind said not all of their users would be covered by that offer.
“Many of you may also be part of the large and growing base of students, parents, and educators who rely on Remind every day in organizations like preschools, day cares, colleges, churches, and youth organizations across the country,” Remind CEO Brian Grey said, in a written statement released last week. “Based on Verizon’s proposal, these wouldn’t necessarily count as ‘K-12 organizations.’ “
Verizon slammed Remind’s continued campaign against the fees, arguing that the messaging company was holding students and teachers hostage in the deals with the carrier.
“It’s outrageous that Remind is using families, educators and school communities as pawns,” said Aparna Khurjekar, who leads customer experience for Verizon, in a statement last Thursday. “No one should need to worry about whether they’ll receive these notifications.”
But just days before Remind planned to discontinue the texting service, the two companies struck a deal.
Verizon announced that it wouldn’t charge the fee to Remind for any texts sent through its system, whether these messages were connected to K-12 institutions or not.
“We are keeping the service exactly the way it has been for Remind and other companies like it that deliver free communications to these important users … We understand how important this service is to our customers and we’re committed to ensuring that a free messaging option remains available now and going forward,” Richard J. Young, a director of corporate communications at Verizon, said in a statement Friday.
In a statement released Friday, Grey confirmed that there would be no service disruption for Verizon customers.
Grey credited the change to the flood of protest that educators, students, and parents raised on social media. “Your voices have been heard,” he said.
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