STOP vs. QUIT for toll-free numbers (TFNs)

Short codes have been the traditional choice for commercial uses of text messaging.  They were the first method that was approved by carriers.  Recently there has been an advance in technology that allows us to text-enable any standard toll-free number (abbreviated as "TFN").  There are a lot of advantages with a TFN and one minor quirk that should be understood before implementing one for your utility, court or enterprise.  

It's all about how to opt-out:

The opt-out process on TFNs is very slightly different than on a short code due to the way the toll-free number networks function.  If the word STOP is texted to a TFN the message is trapped by the network, which blocks further messages to that number, but it never gets to us.  We can't opt the user out because we don't know that they've sent the STOP command.  They won't receive any other messages from us but they are not actually removed from our opt-in list.  
 
The network responds to STOP requests with a message telling the subscriber that they won't receive any more messages until they reply UNSTOP.  This has the same functional effect as if we had opted-out the subscriber; if we attempt to send a message to that number the network blocks it and it won't ever get to the subscriber's phone.  

A better approach, and the one that we advocate, is using QUIT instead of STOP.  This processes the opt-out in the same manner that we are all accustomed to.  The message does NOT get trapped by the network and gets passed to us normally.  We opt-out the subscriber and no more messages are attempted to that number.  

It's a small difference - just using QUIT instead of STOP - but it makes things cleaner and more definitive.  

What's the bottom line?

If you are using a text-enabled toll-free number tell your customers to reply QUIT instead of STOP to opt-out.  

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