August 23, 2007 (Computerworld) AT&T Inc. will start sending iPhone customers thinner bills by default starting with their next billing cycle, the wireless carrier has told subscribers by text message.
The change comes a week after blogs and forums lit up with tales of new iPhone owners receiving bills stretching scores, or even hundreds, of pages. Justine Ezarik, a graphic designer and blogger from Pittsburgh, became a temporary YouTube star for the video showing her unwrapping her first bill, a 300-page pile that listed every one of the estimated 30,000 to 35,000 text messages she sends each month.
Yesterday, AT&T sent a text message to every iPhone. "We are simplifying your paper bill, removing itemized detail. To view all detail go to att.com/mywireless. Still need full paper bill? Call 611."
"From now on iPhone customers will get the summary bill, which has very little detail," confirmed AT&T spokesman Mark Siegel today. And as of Sept. 28, new wireless customers, including new iPhone users, will be sent summary bills by default, rather than the detailed accounts. "If customers want the detailed bill, they will be charged $1.99 a month per line," added Siegel. Previously, AT&T had not charged for the longer bills.
Current customers now receiving detailed bills will also be charged the $1.99-per-line monthly fee if they make any change to their account, such as adding a new line.
Siegel denied that the move was directly related to iPhone complaints. "We've been talking about this for months," he said. "With as many customers as AT&T has, you discuss things thoughtfully before you make a change."
But the decision to start with iPhone users was in response to the by-turns hilarious and heated accounts of customers stunned by the heft of their first bills. "They've seen their first bills and expressed their opinions, which is a good thing," said Siegel. "We don't want people to be overburdened with voluminous bills."
Customers can still drop paper billing entirely, Siegel noted. That's what Ezarik has done. "It's extremely simple to change -- it only took 3 seconds!" she wrote on her blog yesterday.