No More 300 Page Bills for iPhone Customers

No More 300 Page Bills for iPhone Customers

By Greg McNevin

August 29, 2007: Apple’s iPhone debuted in the US last month, and while the smartphone has been hailed as a “game changer” by many commentators, iPhone users soon discovered that the billing system behind Apple’s new baby is not quite as shiny and innovative as the phone itself.

In the US Apple forged an exclusive deal with AT&T Wireless, making it the sole provider of voice and data services to iPhone users. This in itself drew the ire of Apple customers who did not like the idea of being locked into a single operator, but another surprise was on the way at the end of the first billing cycle.

After one month of playing with their new toys, iPhone customers were mailed bills that itemised every call, sms and data transmission, leaving some customers hefting 300 page bills out of their letterboxes despite being on unlimited plans.

According to a spokesman from AT&T, an oversight in its billing system lead to the firm sending out detailed bills as the default option when customers signed up. The telco has now updated its policy to send out itemised bills by default, offering short summaries or online billing instead of 300 page novels.

In the end though, aside from racking up enormous postal charges for the company (up to US$10 per bill) and laying waste to an unknown number of trees, the incident illustrates how the rollout of new technology can collide with old automated billing services if appropriate steps aren’t taken.

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