text forces helpline to shut
Irish Examiner 29/08/2005
By Michael Brennan
A HELPLINE for impotent men had to be shut down
after a spoof text message caused it to be bombarded
The ManMatters helpline was launched three months
ago with an extensive radio and newspapers advertising
campaign. But it was brought to a halt by a spoof
text message, which was widely circulated among
mobile phone users last weekend.
The message claimed the mobile phone provider
3 were giving away 1,000 free phones to test their
new network and added: "I got one a few minutes
ago." When mobile phone owners rushed to dial
the freephone number provided in the message the
discovered instead that they had contacted the
ManMatters helpline for men with erectile dysfunction.
The Eli Lilly pharmaceutical company, which had
set up the helpline, said it had been shut down
last Tuesday due to the volume of calls received.
"We're still investigating it. We heard there
was an influx of calls so at that point we decided
to stop the service and just look into it further,"
said a spokeswoman. She was unable to say how
many calls the helpline got or if it would be
re-instated. "That'll be part of our looking into
this to figure out how to go forward next," she
The ManMatters.ie website set up by the company
is still online but the freephone number has been
blacked out. Eli Lilly is facing a substantial
phone bill because under the standard freephone
arrangement, companies must pay for all the calls
made to the number.
The Men's Health Forum in Ireland said it had
received several calls this week from men who
had not been able to get through to the number.
Committee member Colin Fowler said impotence was
the most difficult issue for men to talk about.
"The sad part of it, certainly, is that if someone
has got the courage up to do something about it,
they're now led down a blind alleyway really where
there's no help available at the end." He said
Eli Lilly had a vested interest in the helpline
because it manufactured the Cialis drug, which
is used to treat impotence.