April 23, 2009 -- It was the ultimate bromance: Two Pennsylvania men spent most of March sending each other constant text messages. In the end, more than 217,000 messages were sent and one of the friends ended up with a $26,300 bill.
"It pretty much started as a joke. I don't personally really like texting all that much," said Nick Andes, 29, who lives in Lancaster.
Andes and his friend Doug Klinger, 30, thought nothing of the messages. They both have unlimited text plans as part of their cell phone package. Who says you can't have too much technology?
"He would text me in the morning, sometimes I wouldn't respond. So he would just send over a whole bunch of text messages and I would get irritated with it so I would send back as many as I felt like sending, just to try and irritate him," said Andes, a messenger and title clerk who loads trucks for UPS in the morning.
Then the two friends wondered what the world record for texting was and if they could beat it. A quick Internet search found a record of 182,000 messages sent in 2005 Deepak Sharma in India.
During a few test days in February, Andes and Klinger got up to 6,000 or 7,000 messages a day. That's when they knew it was possible to break the record. Once Andes' new billing cycle started on March 7, they started typing away.
"It was all legitimate words and stuff but it was all nonsense," Klinger said. "A lot of times it was 'hey what's up,' 'how are you doing,' 'what's up,' 'hahaha,' 'lol,' over and over again."
On a typical day, the two men would exchange 8,000 to 10,000 messages. The count would have been higher if they hadn't taken off a few days.
"We went over 12,000 a couple of days. I'm pretty sure we could do 15,000 a day and we may have," Andes said, noting that he wasn't about to count all the messages sent on a particular day.
The finally tally on his bill from T-Mobile: 217,033 text messages. He sent 142,000 and received 75,000 from Klinger, who works as a screen printer.
So what about that bill?
It was so big that it came in a box. T-Mobile spent $27.55 to send the box to Andes.
"We joked and joked and joked and then I was like: I better open this up and make sure it's not a bill," Andes said.
Turns out it was one big bill: $26,300, despite the unlimited text plan.
"They basically said, when they set up their computer system they had to put in a maximum value and they put in 99,999. Within reason, that should never be exceeded. And apparently it had never been exceeded before," Andes said, adding that the company assured him it would waive the fee.
"T-Mobile is committed to delivering the best possible customer experience in wireless," T-Mobil told ABC News in an e-mailed statement. "To help protect our customers, we investigate extreme usage patterns, particularly with text messaging, as that may be an indication of fraud and/or spamming. It appears Mr. Andes' activities do not fall into that category. His account has been credited for the amount in question. We hope he and his thumbs will be able to get some rest following his experiment."
The two college friends, who also run a T-shirt business together on the side, did find some problems from their constant texting.
"It's really not all as much fun as it sounds," Andes said. "It was a month of not really being able to use our phones other than texting."
Essentially, his phone was inoperable. His wife, Julie, found it funny at first, but quickly got frustrated.
"She wasn't able to call me on this phone at all," Andes said. "It would go straight to voicemail if she tried to call."
Klinger, who has AT&T and didn't get billed extra, was always looking for an electrical outlet.
"Wherever you go, you make sure you have your charger with you," Klinger said.
They also had to ignore legitimate texts from friends and family.
"I'm sure other texts came in," Klinger said. "It just got to the point where you would let the inbox fill up and then delete."
"For the first week or two, yes, I checked every one of them because I was worried I was missing something important. And then after a while, I just got to a point where I just cleared the inbox, they are going to keep on coming," Andes said. "I had warned my friends and family I wasn't going to be using my phone for a month."
There was one other life adjustment: Both men had to set their text-message notifications to silent.
If he hadn't made the switch, the barrage of messages "would have be really, really irritating," Klinger said.
So did their thumbs hurt?
"It wasn't that bad," Andes said. "A lot of people ask that question, but no."