Can't shop, won't shop? Bitterwallet asks the SMS experts
Three days to Christmas, so it's about time we thought about doing some shopping. We were too lazy to buy any gifts online, so now we'll be forced to squeeze into the shopping centres and retail parks to join the commercially-induced hysteria. Maybe we're being a bit hasty, though. Not only have we not started our Christmas shopping, we've been far too bone idle to think about what we should buy.
Thank sweet baby Jesus, then, for the technological miracles that are SMS question and answer services. Faced with precious little time and a complete lack of enthusiasm, Bitterwallet punched in three such shortcodes for Yuletide advice:
118 118 free
"Can you give me three ideas for Christmas presents for my 19-year-old brother, and the price of each? Thanks!"
"No exact info for the price, but you may give your brother iTunes vouchers from music stores or online stores such as Amazon, perfume or electric shaver.
Those Philippine call centre folk may be quick off the blocks - they replied in two minutes - but they appear entirely incapable of writing coherent sentences, or distinguishing genders. If you've been to the Phillippines, you'll probably understand why. Rubbish.
Texperts - 66000 £1 per text
"Can you give me three ideas for Christmas presents for my 88 year-old grandad, and the price of each? Thanks!"
"Popular presents for the elderly include: slippers, garden tools, alcohol, wallets, hampers, picture frame and pictures of the family. Prices will vary."
Answered quickly (under three minutes) but very generic; at least it was readable, so we thought we'd try Texperts with a more specific request:
"Can you give me three ideas for Christmas presents for my 23 year-old thai bride nymphomaniac, and the price of each? Thanks!"
"How about perfume or jewellery for your wife at Christmas? Or something you can do together - gig tickets, or a day at a spa are always good ideas."
"She really likes sex. I'm an exhausted writer who needs some shut-eye - anything specific I can get her?"
"A spa break would be a good idea because she'd be out the house which can give you a rest, or Ann Summers vouchers so she can get herself something to keep her amused while you're asleep."
Texperts can't seem to decide whether I'm going on this bloody spa break or not, and I still don't know how much it'll cost. The Ann Summer vouchers are a good call, though.
AQA - 63336 98p per question
"Can you give me three ideas for Christmas presents for my 59 year-old mum, and the price of each? Thanks!"
"Your mum would love Molton Brown shower products (around £35), a silver heart necklace (from £20) and a digital photo frame (from £40)."
Sleep-inducingly slow to respond at nearly 18 minutes, but the first text to make good on specific gifts and prices. Overall, a mixed bag of ideas from our SMS friends, and we're £4 down on the deal so far. Looks like there's nothing for it except to exercise our elbows and get stuck into the crowds.
Or not bother, and tell them it's the thought that counts. Again.