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SMS Common Issues and Questions

Below are some common questions about SMS Messaging. Don't see what you are looking for? Contact our Help Team!

What if my SMS Brand submission is rejected?

If your SMS Brand is rejected contact the OwnerRez Helpdesk. If you submitted your submission with your business's Employee Identification Number (EIN), be prepared to send us your IRS CP-575 form.

 IRS CP-575 form

What about SMS Brand submissions from Canada?

Beginning, July 27, 2023, OwnerRez supports accepting Canadian SMS Brand Submissions from businesses with their Canadian Business Number (BN) ONLY and can only accept the first 9 numeric digits of the BN (BN-9).

Here is an example of the format of a BN where the bolded part is the part we will collect in the Canadian Brand. 

Tax/Corporation ID field: 123456789RT0001 

As always, please ensure that your legal company name and address is consistent with your business registration and is properly spelled. 

If your SMS Brand is rejected contact the OwnerRez Helpdesk and be prepared to send us your "RP Deduction account form for your business."

Canada Register Payroll Deductions account - details

Where does this brand information (name, address, etc) show up?

The name, email and address that you submit with the SMS Brand does not get displayed to the guest anywhere.

While we may occasionally refer to this as a "Caller ID" like system, the information is only stored by the mobile carriers so that they can track the reputation of someone sending a lot of messages on a frequent basis.  The SMS and MMS protocols do not support any type of actual Caller ID that shows your name on the recipient's mobile phone.

What if I don't want to create an SMS Brand?

Unfortunately, we now require all users to have an approved SMS brand on file.  Without it, we cannot send SMS messages on your behalf.

Quite simply, the SMS and mobile carrier industry is forcing everyone to use them. Beginning March 1, 2022, messaging rates began doubling and sending rates started being delayed (or stopped entirely) without a brand.

If we didn't require you to create an SMS Brand, your rates would double and your text messages wouldn't be delivered. OwnerRez has always prided itself on speed and empowering individual vacation rental businesses to be the best they can be, so this isn't something we can ignore.

If you're curious, you can read more about this by searching the internet for articles about "A2P 10DLC". Businesses that send text messages via applications (like you and OwnerRez) are subject to new rules that fall under A2P 10DLC.

Who is reviewing these brands and deciding if they are rejected/approved?

OwnerRez does not make the decision on what brands are rejected or approved.  When you submit the SMS Brand, the information is passed directly to our telephony carrier who has agreements with the major carriers (Verizon, T-Mobile, etc) and submits the information in accordance with the rules and regulations they follow.

The review process is manual so it is currently taking weeks for brands to be approved.  After submitting your brand, our system gets a response back detailing if the brand was accepted or rejected - which is also emailed to you.  The response does not tell us specifically why a brand is rejected; the user simply has to try again.  From what we can tell, the approval process appears to use public information to tell if someone is using a false phone number or address.  Other than that, the process is usually very fast and most submissions are approved.

I need help with my SMS Brand. Can I call you?

No. The process is not handled by OwnerRez. If your brand gets rejected, we are not usually told the reason. If we are informed of the reason by the carrier, we will include that in the email alert to you. If you do not understand the reason given, or cannot correct it, please contact support and we'll attempt to retrieve more details.

Typically, rejections occur because of the following.

  • The business phone number or address does not exist in public databases.
  • Businesses located in the US failed to submit their required Employee Identification Number (EIN).

Can I Send Messages from My Phone?

Yes and no.

  • You cannot send or receive from your phone through your phone's main dialer/SMS app.
  • You can use the OR website on your smartphone to see and respond to SMS messages. Just like on a computer, send and receive messages within a booking by using the “Conversation” item, or go to CRM > Inbox to see existing conversations.

What is a Message "Segment"?

The word "segment" is important to understand when it comes to SMS. Technically, the character limit for a single SMS message is 160 characters. However, most modern phones and networks support message concatenation: they split large messages into individual SMS messages (called "segments") and then re-create the large message at the receiving end.

OwnerRez does this as well.  In the interface, we allow you to send up to 1,600 characters in a single "message", only it is divided into individual segments of 160 characters under the characters when transmitted through our carrier just like the phone networks (Verizon, ATT, etc) do.  When messages come into OwnerRez, it works the same way.  We detect multiple segments and group them together in one message so that it's readable in the guest conversation as a normal message thread.

If you attach an image to your message, there is an additional "segment" for that as well.

Consider the following message:

Hi John, good morning! I sent you a pre-arrival email this morning with everything you need to know about Beach Bungalow cottage. Please read that thoroughly and let me know if you have any questions! ☕️

This message is 203 characters long which pencils out to 2 segments (203 ÷ 160 = 1.26, so we round up to 2 segments).  If the message included a photo attachment, we would count it as 3 segments.

However, it's actually more complicated than that.  The above message contains an emoji, and so that changes the encoding of the message.  To accommodate a message with emoji or other special characters, our carrier has to use a different character set called UCS-2. Besides emojis, you should also be careful with accented characters. Regular encoding allows for some accented characters such as ñ, à, and ö, but does not include others such as á, í, or ú.  If the encoding changes to UCS-2, the segment count will increase significantly.  Only 67 characters are allowed which means the above message would actually be 4 segments.  Getting rid of that emoji at the end would drop it back to 2 segments because it would be able to be sent with regular encoding.  Something as small as a single emoji or special quotes (") in the message can easily double the number of segments in the message.  Be careful when writing your messages, particularly automated ones that get fired off many times per month, that you aren't increasing the segments with special characters.  To be clear, you can use emoji and special characters all you want, but the price of usage may significantly increase.  If you're interested in details about how encodings work in SMS messages, check out Twilio's article "What the heck is a segment".

You might wonder why "segments" matter at all.  After all, if we do the work under the covers of splitting and re-combining segments for you, what difference does it make?  The answer is - it matters for billing purposes.

As we say above, we bill according to the segment, not the message.  If you send messages that are short in nature, your billing won't be affected. Text messages were designed to provide short cogent information to the recipient and should be crafted as such.  Notice in the above example, the sender is telling the guest to "look for an email" instead of providing all the information in the text message - this is how messages to guests should be crafted.

If you send long messages that are multiple paragraphs in length, you are likely being billed for many segments and the included 500 segments per month will run out quickly.  We have noticed that some users have email-sized bodies crammed into SMS messages which cost the user as many as 10 segments in a single send.  You should craft your SMS messages to be short in nature and point the guest to look for an email or web page with the full information.

Use our special SMS Segment Calculator to see the details of your message so that you know how special characters and emojis affect the overall length and segment count.

Can I use my own phone number?

Porting a number (into or out of Twilio) is possible but takes additional manual involvement by OwnerRez support for a fee. If you are interested to beta pilot this process, reach out to us.

Can I Have More Than 1 Number?

The system was built to make it possible to have multiple numbers.  However, only a few users have had that functionality turned on.  At the moment, we're limiting that until we get more feedback about general usage.  If you are interested in this capability, please contact the Helpdesk.

Sole Proprietors cannot have more than one SMS phone number.

Once you have been able to configure additional SMS numbers, OwnerRez recommends assigning specific Theming for each SMS number by navigating to Settings > Branding & Legal > Theming > + Create Theme > SMS Number.

Settings > Branding & Legal > Theming > + Create Theme > SMS Number

Can I use SMS anywhere?

At present, OwnerRez SMS capabilities are only available from numbers based out of North America, and can only send to numbers that are in the 50 United States and Canada.  Note that, for historical reasons, US possessions such as Puerto Rico and various other islands, while legally being in the US and using phone numbers formatted similarly to US numbers, aren't actually and thus cannot receive SMS messages from OwnerRez at present.

This is not a technical limitation - it's an economic one, as we have not yet worked out a suitable way to charge for international telecom service, whose systems are generally billed very differently. We intend to add worldwide capability in the future.

We offer both United States and Canadian telephone numbers for the SMS service.

How do you know which phone numbers are mobile and can receive text messages, and which are landlines that can't?

You don't. We can't either. There's simply no reliable, automatic way to detect this.

If you send a text to a non-mobile number, in most cases the phone company will telephone that number and, if someone answers the phone, read them text-to-speech of your text message.

When you are configuring SMS templates to send messages to your guest, you can use the {CPHONEPR} field code for the primary phone number, which will usually (but not always) be their mobile.  Or, you can use the {CPHONE} field code to send to all of their phone numbers, not knowing which are or aren't mobile, but hopefully at least one will be, so the message will work.

What if I get an error message when attempting to send?

If there's a failure when sending an SMS, you'll get an error message letting you know what happened. Sometimes this can be because the guest entered a wrong number or the phone isn't accessible and that will be stated in the error message. 

Very occasionally you'll get a 30008 Unknown error. Here's the description from our carrier:

"Message Delivery - Unknown error

If a message you sent is not delivered to the end device and returns a 30008 error code, this means that delivery of your message failed for unknown reasons.

When we receive a very generic error from our carrier partner that we have no further details about, we associate the message with the error code 30008, letting you know that we truly don't know what caused this error from the provider."

You can try again and see if it works -- it's possible the phone is off or roaming or isn't reachable for some reason.

Another thing to try is sending a shorter message to the phone, with simple content that does not include any special characters. This would give our support team an idea as to whether the failure is related to concatenation or character encoding.  Error code 21617 often indicates that the message was too long - messages longer than 1600 character can cause issues.

If you know it should work, such as if you can successfully text the number directly via other devices, send a few tests from OwnerRez and send in a support ticket and we'll escalate it up to the carrier.

Error 21704 indicates that your SMS phone number is not yet fully set up - most likely awaiting regulatory approval.

Don't see your error code listed above? While OwnerRez may not be able to fix the error, we suggest that users search Twilio's list of error codes before contacting our Help Team.

What happens if someone tries to place a regular phone call to my OwnerRez SMS number?

At present, we don't have any interface for you to receive, answer, or place calls using your SMS number. However, we do allow the guests to leave a voicemail message, which is then forwarded to your primary email address. This includes the phone number that called you, a transcription of the message, and a link to a recording of the message that you can listen to.  You can respond to them in any other way.

It is also possible to configure your OwnerRez SMS number to forward calls (not text messages, just actual voice calls) to another specified number.

This must be a North American phone number - overseas numbers won't work.  If you are overseas, you can likely obtain a valid North American number from Google Voice or a similar service that will work.

You can select what you want to appear in your Caller ID when a call is forwarded - the original phone number of whoever is calling you so you could call them back if needed, or, your OwnerRez phone number so you know to answer the phone appropriately.

You can see the history of calls in Tools > Communication History.

I got an email saying "The recipient's carrier blocked your message."

Yes, that happens sometimes - phone carriers have spam detectors, much like email. Unfortunately, when this occurs, there is very little that can be done to remove the spam block. We simply let you know, so you can attempt to contact your guest some other way.

Blocking is done on a per-number basis. There's no correlation between your personal cell phone, or a ClickSend number, or an OwnerRez reserved (Twilio) number. The carrier and device will evaluate each independently, and block or not block based on whatever internal rules are set by them. You can read more about message blocking here:

https://support.twilio.com/hc/en-us/articles/360022449893-SMS-Carrier-Filtering-in-the-United-States-and-Canada 

The major carriers are working alongside VOIP services on something called A2P Messaging that will increase the brand and sending reputation of apps that send SMS messages but it's not yet widely supported.  We're watching it and will jump on it as soon as it arrives.

If you find you are getting a high rate of blocks for your messages, you may wish to consider the following:

  • Verify that your guests are actually providing mobile numbers. We can't currently distinguish between mobile, VOIP, or landline numbers. Some of these will fail because the device or carrier simply does not support SMS at all.
  • Try including "Reply STOP to unsubscribe" at the end of all your messages.  If the guest actually does reply STOP, our SMS service provider will automatically block us from sending any further texts to that number.  This cannot be reversed.
  • If you're not tied to the current number, try deleting your SMS number and getting a new one. However, you might encounter the same issue again in the future if your messaging patterns or text are triggering the carrier's spam filters. 

Cannot send an SMS message to myself

You should set up the SMS message to send a message to your cell phone or some other phone number. The SMS phone number you register through OwnerRez is a real phone number, supplied by our telcomm carrier, and it is not possible for a phone number to send a text message to itself. You would have to send a SMS message to a different phone number that you own, or you could send yourself an email message instead of SMS. The common use for SMS messages and triggers is to remind guests, housekeepers and third parties about things relating to a booking.

Can I forward my OwnerRez SMS number to my Google Voice number?

You can forward voice calls made to your OwnerRez SMS number to your Google Voice or any other valid North American telephone number, as discussed above.  You cannot forward SMS text messages to any other number.

If a guest has multiple phone numbers or a booking has multiple guests, where do my SMS messages get sent?

Generally, you use field codes in your message templates, so that OwnerRez will automatically fill in the correct information when an individual message is sent.

If you use the {CPHONE} merge code to send messages to (which is the default), then the SMS will be sent to all phone numbers on the booking and/or guest contact.

If you only want to send to the first number on the contact, switch the TO on the template to use the {CPHONEPR} field code.

Can photo images or other files (PDFs) be attached to messages?

Yes, you can attach photos and other files to SMS messages. However, it's important to note the difference between images and other files (like PDFs) because they work in two different ways.

Images can be directly attached to a message and will be another segment on the message.  You have probably personally texted images to your friends, using your smart phone.  OwnerRez fully supports this same concept, and each SMS message can include an image that will work the same way and appear on the recipients' phone as an image.

If you attach a PDF or other type of document, that will result in the file URL being appended to the message. When the recipient sees the message, the file you attached won't show as an attachment but there will be a link that they can click on to download the file. In terms of message length, the PDF or file URL that is generated could add another segment to the message if the URL is long enough to get you over the max segment length, but if the message is short enough, there won't be an extra segments.  Images always add an additional segment.

Can I record my own voicemail greeting rather than just using the robot voice?

Yes! Go to Settings > SMS Numbers, and click on your number in the entry.  Select the option to "Use a pre-recorded file."

Then, upload a pre-recorded MP3 file with your desired greeting.  It'll be used for future incoming calls.

I want my incoming SMS notifications to go to more than one phone number.

This is a bit of a misunderstanding.  Incoming SMS messages, themselves, are not forwarded to any other phone number by SMS.  Instead, OwnerRez sends an email alert, which is sent to the main email address on your account.  At present, there is no function to send system alerts to multiple email addresses, but, most email clients provide the ability to filter for messages of certain types and forward them onward to other email addresses.

Whoever has login and/or admin access to your OwnerRez account will be able to see incoming SMS (and all other) messages, and respond to them in the CRM area.  This is available from any browser, including mobile devices.

Can I create and send group SMS messages?

No, OwnerRez does not support group SMS messages. While it is possible to set up a template to send the same message to multiple recipients, each recipient will receive their own message - they won't be all together in a group.

I used your SMS service for a bit and changed my mind and turned it off, what happens to my SMS phone number?

OwnerRez actually pays a monthly charge for each phone number in use, so if you cancel the service, the number is released and returned to our telecom provider within a few days so we aren't still paying for it.  It will be reissued to someone else - not necessarily an OwnerRez client, it could be anybody served by our provider.

"The recipient is currently unreachable."

This SMS response indicates that the phone number is unavailable due to a variety situations ranging from carrier issues, number is roaming, phone is switched off/disconnected, phone is to not receive SMS messages, etc.

Use an alternate communication method to the guest such as email or alternate phone.

What happens if a guest sends a photo via SMS?

Photos sent via SMS to your OwnerRez SMS number will appear in the Conversation. Note that files other than photos cannot be received by your SMS number.

OwnerRez says an SMS message was sent successfully, but my guest never got it.

Yes, well... Unfortunately, the SMS messaging system is a bit like email, and in some ways even less reliable. All we can do is to submit the message to the phone network via our communication provider. Sometimes, if there is something clearly wrong, we'll get an error message back - you can see several of those listed elsewhere in these support docs. Other times, though, the message just disappears into the aether, and there's no way to determine why. This is outside of the ability of OwnerRez, or anyone else really, to control or investigate, and is a reason why it is wise to use multiple separate channels of communication with your guests.

I'd like to include my team on SMS messages. Can I use my Team Account to set up SMS messaging?

Unfortunately no. SMS Messaging must be set up by the primary OwnerRez account user.