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When calling people on their mobile phones in China you often don’t hear the phone ringing on the other end of the line, but you get a personalized ‘ringtone’. You can choose your favorite song for this, and of course China Mobile earns good money for the songs that you install. I find it quite annoying that I have to listen to these songs when calling people, but I guess lots of people love it, otherwise the service would not exist.

Two weeks ago I called my wife, and was surprised that she had also installed this feature on her phone. I asked her about it when she picked up the phone, but she said that she was not aware of it. She immediately called China Mobile and asked them about it. It turned out that they were doing some sort of marketing campaign by installing the ring tone on people’s phone (without asking), hoping that they will change it to another one for a fee.

Last week Gary also suddenly had the ringtone installed, and he also did not know about it until people told him. Maybe it’s time to call my own number to check, who knows what my business relations have to listen to when they call me. Outside China this kind of push-marketing would likely lead to a lot of cancelled subscriptions, but when you are monopolist you can get away with it.

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