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iPhone Bill a Whopping 52 Pages Long 369

PoliTech writes "iPhone bills are surprisingly large - 'Xbox Large', according to Ars technica: 'AT&T's iPhone bills are quite impressive in their own right. We're starting to get bills for the iPhone here at Ars, and while many of us have had smartphones for some time, we've never seen a bill like this. One of our bills is a whopping 52 pages long, and my own bill is 34 pages long. They're printed on both sides, too. What gives? The AT&T bill itemizes your data usage whenever you surf the Internet via EDGE, even if you're signed up for the unlimited data plan. AT&T also goes into an incredible amount of detail to tell you; well, almost nothing. For instance, I know that on July 27 at 3:21 p.m. I had some data use that, under the To/From heading, AT&T has helpfully listed as Data Transfer. The Type of file? Data. My total charge? $0.00. This mind-numbing detail goes on for 52 double-sided pages (for 104 printed pages!) with absolutely no variance except the size of the files.' You would think that a data company would have a more efficient billing process."
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iPhone Bill a Whopping 52 Pages Long

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  • Paperless billing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PoitNarf ( 160194 ) on Sunday August 12, 2007 @03:34PM (#20204835)
    Now I am extremely happy that I went with their paperless billing option when I signed up for my iPhone.
  • by Pete LaGrange ( 696064 ) on Sunday August 12, 2007 @03:41PM (#20204893)
    My cingular bill has been like this for ages, every single transaction listed without regard for charges. I finally convinced myself that too much information is better than too little.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 12, 2007 @03:43PM (#20204911)
    This level of detail is not only "mind-numbing" in is inconvenience, but should alarm anyone concerned with the privacy of their communications. AT&T has a dismal track record with respect to warrantless governemnt data mining, and it disconcerting that they relay such detailed monitoring for their billing records (even when there is no charge). You can be assured that such records are conveniently feeding the data mining engines at the NSA.
  • by Matt Perry ( 793115 ) <> on Sunday August 12, 2007 @03:45PM (#20204921)
    It'll make it easier to slip in a $1 charge here and a 25 cent charge there. Few people read those bills and making them longer and filled with useless data like this will make it harder to find the signal in the noise.
  • Web pages are getting ridiculously heavy, thanks to high-speed internet and people feeling that they don't have to optimize - "it takes away from the experience."

    The same can be said for server loads - page generation is going backwards in terms of cpu usage. I've seen php scripts that end up #including almost 100 other scripts ON EVERY PAGE LOAD!!!

    This is insane.

  • by GIL_Dude ( 850471 ) on Sunday August 12, 2007 @04:01PM (#20205041) Homepage
    Good point. Probably the first one will be $1.25 for "paper bill"...
  • by Proudrooster ( 580120 ) on Sunday August 12, 2007 @04:11PM (#20205115) Homepage
    Yep, sign up for Charter FREE UNLIMITED LONG DISTANCE and get an itemized bill of all your long distance and zone calls. I think this is so the marketing drones can pull the run out from under you at some future date and point out HOW MUCH FREE SERVICE you have been getting. It appears that companies just want to keep their options open in-case they decide to eliminate or charge MORE for the FREE UNLIMITED SERVICE.

    Now that we know this, we should have a contest and see who can generate the largest bill.
  • by iced_773 ( 857608 ) on Sunday August 12, 2007 @04:35PM (#20205279)
    We got a bill from AT&T for long-distance service on our landline that we haven't used in years, since we get long-distance minutes included in our cellphone plans. So after we call up AT&T to ask what's up and cancel the service, they send us a check for $0.03. How efficient.
  • by iminplaya ( 723125 ) on Sunday August 12, 2007 @04:38PM (#20205299) Journal
    Web pages are getting ridiculously heavy, thanks to high-speed internet and people feeling that they don't have to optimize...

    Actually it's because they're so heavily laden with advertising. Blocking the ads speeds things up considerably. In fact, when possible, I block everything that's not on the page I'm visiting. I don't know if there's a hosts file on the iPhone to edit.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 12, 2007 @04:45PM (#20205401)
    Agreed... just think about how many trees the Yellow Pages kills
  • by daveschroeder ( 516195 ) * on Sunday August 12, 2007 @04:54PM (#20205473)
    This isn't a subtle way of saying anything.

    And no, it's not "something that needs to be brought up" (I can hear it now) whenever someone talks about AT&T.

    If anything, AT&T wouldn't want to remind people of this. (No, wait...let me guess: they do want you to know, because AT&T is part of the corporate/government machinery that wants to get the "sheeple" "used to" being monitored, right? Give me a break.)

    The only thing "subtle" here - or not so subtle, actually - is someone taking an opportunity to again bring up the AT&T/NSA issue again in a completely and utterly unrelated context.

    It's a detailed billing system that has to exist to, you know, bill for data usage, being used on handsets with unlimited data plans, quite ridiculously, when not needed.
  • by WhatAmIDoingHere ( 742870 ) * <> on Sunday August 12, 2007 @05:03PM (#20205535) Homepage
    You and I define "easy" differently.
  • by LighterShadeOfBlack ( 1011407 ) on Sunday August 12, 2007 @05:10PM (#20205575) Homepage
    Surely that could just as easily be attained by a simple summary of data sent/received each month. If a company doesn't trust an employee beyond that it seems to me they probably shouldn't be giving him a business phone at all.

    I certainly doubt that a company would want that information in paper form - for a reasonably sized firm you'd probably need a whole team of people dedicated to just reading and analysing the bills if it was paper rather than a digital, computer-digestable format (and of course what would a computer do with such information? - summarise it into a couple of lines or relevant data!).

    Even in the unlikely event that a company or an individual wanted the absurdly-over-the-top style of billing on paper it seems logical that it should be by request, not the default.
  • by Doctor O ( 549663 ) on Sunday August 12, 2007 @05:15PM (#20205615) Homepage Journal
    I'm amazed and a bit shocked that there are so many people here who think that paperless billing is an acceptable idea. It isn't, because:

    1) It can be manipulated after the fact. "What were you suing us for? Look at your online bill, it says nothing about the 4-hour-call to Farkistan you claim we've wrongfully charged you for."
    2) You can't prove the manipulation. "That so-called 'print' you have, it's trivial to fake out *anything*. Anybody can save an online bill to his local computer and change anything to his liking, and print it."
    3) Sooner or later (usually sooner), the telco fucks up your billing. It's inevitable. And when trouble strikes, with a paper bill you have nice physical proof of their fuckup, nicely delivered in a dated envelope, printed with their type of toner on their business letter sheets.

    Here in Germany, the telcos tend to default to online billing and you have to pay for paper bills. I gladly do, because of all the above. I've yet to encounter a telco or ISP that *never* fucks up billing.

    (They're usually fighting with legacy billing systems which don't scale so well with the flood of clients they get as monopolization continues. That's a dragon that's *very* difficult to slay, because you can't just halt the system to migrate it, and you must make sure that it supports all existing business processes. The last thing alone can even give very experienced integrators sleepless nights and lots of headaches. I think it's just the natural result of growing complexity in business processes. It's your call whether you blame them for it or just shrug it off. I do the latter.)
  • by Firehed ( 942385 ) on Sunday August 12, 2007 @05:19PM (#20205639) Homepage
    That's 100% AT&T's fault. Apple did their part; if AT&T can't get their shit together, it's their own problem.
  • by mizhi ( 186984 ) on Sunday August 12, 2007 @05:22PM (#20205651)
    People are whining with the default detailed billing system, so whether or not to default to that system is a flip of the coin.

    A little common sense would indicate that the default billing option should be an electronic version, with the option of requesting a hard copy of the detailed billing records. You'd still have people whining (there will always be people who complain), and there would be a positive environmental impact from the paper that was spared.
  • by the unbeliever ( 201915 ) <{chris+slashdot} {at} {}> on Sunday August 12, 2007 @06:13PM (#20205965) Homepage
    You don't get the "rebate" unless you sign up for the contract.

    Buy a phone without a contract, you pay the MSRP.
  • by GodfatherofSoul ( 174979 ) on Sunday August 12, 2007 @07:33PM (#20206521)
    That's the whole point. If your bill is a gazillion pages long with obfuscated charges, it makes it easier for phone companies to sneak in extra charges. When you look at your phone bill through that lens (and compare your monthly phone bill to other utilities) it becomes pretty obvious what the game plan is for the industry.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 12, 2007 @07:37PM (#20206547)
    I would agree with you if there was an option to use another network. Since Apple has chosen 1 network to be their front man, they get to wear the blame when the shit hits the fan.
  • Update (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Nazlfrag ( 1035012 ) on Sunday August 12, 2007 @08:43PM (#20206955) Journal

    UPDATE, 12:18PM PT: Dave says, "AT&T just called and agreed to waive all charges due to the 'miscommunication.' I think they have a customer for life now."

    So remember kids, to get free internet on your iPhone just make sure to get a bill over $3000 and digg your blog.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 12, 2007 @09:28PM (#20207257)
    5 milibits seems a little small, doesn't it?
  • Monopolies (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Degrees ( 220395 ) <(degrees) (at) (> on Monday August 13, 2007 @12:59AM (#20208545) Homepage Journal

    You would think that a data company would have a more efficient billing process.

    But if you are a regulated monopoly that gets to charge operating costs + 10%, isn't it is your best interest to maximize your operating costs?

    Now admittedly, wireless is probably the most competitive of all the data services (easiest to switch vendors, you actually have more than one vendor to choose from (well, not for iPhone users)). But my point is that these aren't new corporations with new ways of thinking. They are still old fashioned corporations where CYA is more important than customer service. Will they change to a shorter form? Of course they will. But it won't be because the director of billing information systems told his people "If it's what is best for the customer, do it!" It will be because the customers complained to the customer service reps, who told their supervisors, who scheduled a cross-business-line-meeting, who will tell the billing information systems manager what screw-up he is. And he will whine that if they didn't print out every freaking line item, then he wouldn't have been allowed to cover his ass with the customer bills.

    Besides, when the bean-counters come snooping around looking for ways to cut costs, the billing information systems manager will get to propose emailing the bill, and then shift the work to the CSRs to convince the customers to sign up. If cost's aren't going down, it's because the CSRs aren't selling it enough. Meanwhile, billing information systems manager gets a bigger part of the company budget than he would have otherwise. By costing more, his department is worth more to the company.

    In a truly free market, this would be financial suicide. But due to origins of telecom, these aren't really free-market companies (or at least they don't think like them yet).

  • by sjaguar ( 763407 ) on Monday August 13, 2007 @06:15AM (#20210025) Homepage
    While I agree that customers tend to suffer from information overload, it is not always the wireless companies fault. After working for a wireless billing company for the past 13 years, I have found that the government causes a lot of the confusion. When producing invoices, we had to make sure that they complied with federal, state, county, and city regulations. Matters would get more complex when dealing with some national carriers as you now have to comply with more regulatory bodies.

    Of course, the wireless companies are not blameless. When rating rules become so complex that it takes more than a printed page to explain a specific rule, the rules are too complex for both the wireless company and the consumer.

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