25
Aug
07

AT&T Decides To Kill the iPhone Bill

That rustling sound you hear is the sound of trees applauding AT&T’s decision this week to send iPhone bills, from this point forward, that have fewer pages than Tolstoy’s War and Peace.

When the first giant iPhone bills came out, some unsuspecting recipients might have thought they had instead received summaries of the phone book. Some users reported bills up to 300 pages long, printed on both sides, itemizing every system transmission of data — even those data transfers hidden to the user.

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The massive bills threatened to validate some observers’ concerns about AT&T as Apple’s partner. More than a few iPhone users might have wondered whether the price of the simple and elegant iPhone included contributing to worldwide deforestation.

One blogger estimated that a 100-page bill, delivered monthly, would mean curtains for nearly 75,000 trees annually.

A Lot for Nothing

Ben Kuchera, writing in ArsTechnica, noted that one of his first bills went into “an incredible amount of detail to tell you — well, almost nothing.” As an example, he said this bill told him that on July 27 at 3:21 p.m., he had a data transfer of appropriately enough data for a total charge of $0.00. Except for minor differences such as file sizes and time of day, this item was repeated for 52 double-sided pages.

On Wednesday, AT&T told its iPhone customers that it would henceforth send only a summary of charges as the monthly bill. If any customers, for reasons known only to them, would like to see the longer and more detailed version, the cost will be $1.99 monthly. Customers also can choose to drop paper altogether, and view their bills online.

AT&T told news outlets that it had intended to make these changes all along, and that the protests of iPhone users had no impact on their decision.

The YouTube Videos

Of course, a cultural icon like the iPhone can’t get away with having a phone bill the size of an airplane technical manual, and not get targeted on YouTube.

One of the most popular videos, by Pittsburgh blogger Justine Ezarik, showed her with her iPhone and the box — not an envelope — that her first bill came in, complete with all 300 pages. The bill itself was not small — $274. But, as she noted in a separate interview, it included the startup fees. To the plinky music of the iPhone commercials, she proceeded in her video to turn each page, in fast motion. As of today, the video has received several million views.

In fairness, she has now made another video. “Got a text message from AT&T,” she said to the camera, noting that every other iPhone customer did as well. “We are simplifying your paper bill,” she quoted the message, “removing itemized details.”

The experience with paper overload did not damper Ezarik’s affection for her iPhone, for which she professed continued love on her blog.

Via Yahoo


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