Frequently Asked Questions

Pricing/Credits

Q.  Will undelivered messages count against my credits?
A.  All text message and email attempts will count against your credits. Phone calls that return either a busy signal, no answer, or are intercepted by an operator will not count against your credit balance.

Q.  What happens if I run out of credits?  
A.  If you run out of credits, you’ll need to purchase more in order for your messages to be sent.  You will not be able to send messages with insufficient credits. If you are in the middle of the message creation process, you have the option to click on a Buy More Credits button that will take you through the process of buying more credits.  Once you have purchased more credits, you will be returned to the message you created.  From there you will be able to send your message.

Q.  If I cancel my account or if my account expires, do I get a refund for unused credits?
A.  No, we do not issue refunds for unused credits.

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Account Set-Up & Management

Q. What if I forgot my password?
A.  Click on the password reset link on the AlertFirst login page. 

Q.  Why doesn’t the password reset link in my email message work?
A.   The password reset link in the email sent to you is only good for 24 hours.  You’ll need to reset your password again to get another email sent to you. 

Q.  Can I have multiple users on my account?
A.  Yes, the system allows for an unlimited number of users. 

Q.  Which web browsers does AlertFirst support?
A.  Internet Explorer version 7+, Google Chrome, Firefox 3+, and Safari.  We support Windows, Mac, and Linux versions.   

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Contact List Management

Q.  Can I upload a list that I purchased?
A.   You must have permission from contacts to call their cell phones and text them.  As stated in the terms and conditions for AlertFirst, we filter out all landline phone numbers on the Do Not Call list and all cell phone numbers if you do not have permission to call them.  Additionally, you cannot text people who have not opted-in to receive messages from you. We strongly encourage you to NOT purchase, upload and email any contact list.

Q.  How do my contacts opt-in or opt-out of receiving text messages?
A.  When you create your AlertFirst account, you will create a text keyword that your contacts can text to our short code in order to opt-in to messages that you want to send them.  When your contact sends a text message to us with your opt-in keyword, it will be checked against the keywords in our database.  If the keyword matches one in the database, your contact will be opted in to receive your messages.  Your contact will then receive a text message back informing them that they have opted in to receive your messages.  At this point, you can legally send your contact a text message anytime.  To opt-out, your contacts can text back STOP, QUIT, CANCEL or STOP ALL. You also have the option to manually remove them from your stored contact list.  If a contact wants to receive messages from you again at some point in the future, they must opt-in again using the keyword you created.  A list of all your keywords can be found under Manage Account, Text Auto-Reply Keywords.

Q. How do my contacts opt-out of receiving email messages?
A. Contacts can opt-out of receiving email messages from you by clicking the opt-out link found at the bottom of the email.

Q.  Is my data secure with AlertFirst?
A.  Yes. Client data security is a primary focus, so we not only designed our system with a series of security checks, but we also employ encryption throughout the system, and the transmission of user logons is encrypted. Data is stored on a secure Oracle database. The data is accessible by the Database Administration Team only (via configured system privileges), and it is password protected. 
Any data that you upload to or enter into AlertFirst considered confidential and proprietary.  It is company policy never to divulge, re-sell, or disclose customer data to outside agencies unless directed to do so by legal authority.

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Message Creation

Q.  How long can my message be?
A.  Voice – 10 minutes.   Text-to-Speech – 4,000 characters.  Text – 160 characters minus required appended suffix verbiage = 136. (See our FAQ on canned verbiage at the end of text messages.)   Email -- 4,000 characters.

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Message Delivery

Q.  What communication channels does AlertFirst support?
A.  We send phone calls to landline, cellular, and VoIP phones, and text messages to cell phones.  We send email and also post messages to your Facebook and Twitter pages.

Q.  How fast is AlertFirst message delivery?
A.  AlertFirst is designed for high-volume usage, so our system is always at the ready for high volume traffic, and has the capacity to reach thousands of people in a matter of minutes.  It is common for AlertFirst to send hundreds of thousands of messages per hour and millions of messages per day. 

Q.  Are there limits to how many people I can send messages to at once?
A.  No, as long as you have enough credits in your account to cover the messages, there is not a limit to the number of people you can send a call, text and/or email to at one time.

Q.  Will AlertFirst leave a message on an answering machine or voicemail?  
A.  Yes, answering machine detection is built into AlertFirst. 

Q.  Does it cost my contacts to receive messages from me?
A.  No, AlertFirst does not charge your contacts for any messages sent to them using AlertFirst. However, they may incur charges from their cell phone carrier as standard text messaging rates do apply for text messages and contacts may be charged for receiving calls on their cell phone based on their cell phone plan.   

Q.  Can I schedule messages to go out later?
A.  Yes, you can select the time the message should begin to be sent, as well as when the message should no longer be sent.

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Landline/Cell Phone Calls

Q.  Can I send international calls?
A.  No, this feature is not offered in AlertFirst. 

Q.  Can I call phone numbers with extensions?
A.  No, not at this time. 

Q.  Does AlertFirst circumvent Tele-Zappers?
A.  No, reaching a Tele-Zapper device will result in the call being treated as if it has reached an answering machine or voicemail. 

Q.  Can I set the caller ID?
A.  Yes, any 10-digit number you enter in the Caller ID field will be displayed on all recipients’ caller ID. Letters will not be accepted in the Caller ID box.

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Texting/SMS/Shortcode/Keywords

Q.  Can I text anyone?
A.  No, based on federal regulations, you can only text your contacts who have opted-in to receive your messages. 

Q.  Can I send international text messages?
A.  Not at this time.

Q. What is the difference between the opt-in keyword set up during account registration and auto-reply keywords that can be purchased for 100 credits per month?
A. The opt-in keyword is the keyword that you ask your contacts to text to the short code in order for them to receive text messages from you.  Contacts will receive a system generated confirmation text stating they have opted in to receive text messages from you.  After they’ve opted in, you have permission to text them messages relevant to your business/organization, such as closing or cancelations, sales or promotions, or meeting reminders. You can change your opt-in keyword at any time under Manage Account.

Separate from the opt-in keyword, you can purchase auto-reply keywords that you set up to automatically send text messages back to contacts when they text that keyword to the short code.  It is important to note that with this feature contacts are only requesting one-time information from you on a particular topic, not opting in to receive on-going text messages from you.  You can create multiple messages for your keyword, and toggle between the auto replies using the Connect/Disconnect button.  For example, if you are a coach of a baseball team, you might reserve the keyword GAMESTATUS.  You could create two replies to this keyword, one reply saying the game is on, and the other reply saying the game has been canceled due to bad weather.  If the game is on, you would connect the “game on” reply to the keyword so that if parents or players text GAMESTATUS to the short code, they get the reply telling them the game is on.  You can reserve your keyword under Manage Account, and set up the message you want to go out for that keyword under the Manage Text Message Auto-Reply Messages tab under Messages.

Q.  Which wireless carriers do you support for texting?
A.  Alltel, AT&T, Boost, CellCom, Cinci Bell, Cricket, cSpire (Cellular South), Get Lisa, Interop, Nextel, nTelos, Sprint, T-Mobile, US Cellular, Verizon, Virgin Mobile.

Q. How can I promote my opt-in keyword and short code online?

A. To spread awareness for your text notifications, you can promote your opt-in keyword and our short code online.  However, it is important that you maintain legal compliance when doing so.  Wireless carriers and CTIA, the SMS short code regulatory body, require that anywhere the short code 95643 is advertised, Terms and Conditions verbiage needs to be apparent, along with a link to your Privacy Policy.  Here is a mock-up of what your website must include to maintain compliance.  Please note that all verbiage and formatting must be preserved, e.g., stating “Terms and Conditions”, the registered mark symbol following T-Mobile and US Cellular, bold fonts as shown, and listing a phone number and email contact for your company/organization.   As stated in AlertFirst Terms & Conditions, failure to maintain compliance may result in your AlertFirst account temporarily being deactivated, and can be re-activated after steps have been taken to maintain compliance.

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Email

Q.  Can I see the "From" email address?
A.  Yes, you can set this under Manage Account, My Account Settings or Account-Wide Settings.

Q.  Can I include pictures, graphics and attachments in the email?
A.  No, at this time AlertFirst only offers text email.

Q.  What reporting is available for email?
A.  AlertFirst reports show the pending emails, emails successfully delivered, and emails that failed delivery.

Q.  Can I see my undelivered mail?
A.  Yes, the Detailed Reports show undeliverable email addresses.

Q.  Can I see who unsubscribed from email?
A.  You can view your contacts who have opted-out of the email notifications under Contacts, View Email Opt-Outs.

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Mapping

Q.  How does mapping work?
A.  Mapping is something that few notification vendors offer, especially at such a low price point. Basically, you can use our mapping feature to load where your contacts live or work. Then, you can draw various shapes on the map, and call or text all of your contacts who live or work within the shapes you draw.

Examples of how you can use this technology are:

  • At lunchtime, send coupon codes to your customers who work within a several mile radius of your restaurant
  • Let customers know about a new location or a sale at a location near where they live or work
  • Contact all the residents of a town to let them know about crime alerts, boil alerts, or other important information that impacts safety and health
  • Contact employees or organization members near road construction to let them know about traffic delays and detours
  • Send messages to employees based on your company's geographic service territory 

Q. Can I use the mapping feature if my contact list does not include addresses?
A.  No, having addresses for your contacts is the basis of using the mapping feature. The addresses you upload are what we use to plot points on the map.

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Reporting

Q.  What information is included in the reporting?
A.  The Summary Report page gives you the total number and percentage of message attempts that were successful and unsuccessful. In a message that contained test messages you may also see any text message responses that were received in the Text Message Response Summary.

The Detailed Report page will display the results of the message. Here you can view the results of each attempt made to your contacts. It will also tell you the message type (e.g. Outdial to cell, Text to cell, Email, etc.). The results are broken down by type individual rows. To find out who returned which results, click on the result type. If you were to click on the Call Answered result for example, you'll now see a list of everyone who answered their calls. Clicking the Show All Columns button allows you to see the additional information about the contact. This includes all available information listed for that individual, in the Hosted Contacts Database, in the uploaded file, etc.

To download a copy of this report for your own records, click Download Results.

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