AT&T drops huge iPhone bills

AT&T starts sending out summarized bills to iPhone users, rather than detailed bills that can run hundreds of pages and arrive in boxes.


NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- The most widely-mocked accessory of the popular Apple iPhone - an incredibly detailed bill that can run hundreds of pages - is being dropped by AT&T, the wireless phone provider that offers service on the phone.

AT&T's (Charts, Fortune 500) bills had detailed in printed form every phone call and data transfer -including each time the customer accessed the Web or sent a text or picture message - even the ones that are free under unlimited minutes or messaging portions of their service plan.

This photo was posted on a blog by Mike Brophy, one of the iPhone customers who led an outcry against the AT&T Wireless bills that were running for a hundred or more pages.
This photo was posted on a blog by Mike Brophy, an iPhone customer who led an outcry against the huge AT&T Wireless bills.
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But starting immediately iPhone customers will start to get only a summary bill that typically runs three pages. Most iPhone users have only received one bill so far since the phones went on sale in late June.

The company sent all iPhone customers a text message Wednesday reading "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."

Getting the detailed bill online will be free, but getting a fully itemized paper bill will now cost customers an additional $1.99 per line, though.

AT&T Wireless customers using other types of phones will be transferred to the summary bill form after Sept. 28, unless they already receive the itemized paper bill. In that case, they will continue to receive the itemized bill for free unless or until they make a change to their service plan, at which time they will be switched to the summary bill or charged if they want to continue to get a detailed paper bill.

The bills had been widely criticized by some iPhone customers.

Justine Ezarik, a graphic artist from Pittsburgh, placed a video on Google's (Charts, Fortune 500) YouTube after she received a 300-page bill that she explained with exasperation in her voice, arrived "in a box."

Her posting, which has been seen several million times on YouTube, includes music from the iPhone commercials playing over a sped-up video of her going page-by-page through the bill.

Another iPhone customer, Mike Brophy, said on his blog that his bill was one-inch thick and 127-pages long. He included a photo on his blog showing a dog sitting on the bill spread out over his floor, as if he was using it to house train the pet.

Brophy's blog post asked "Has anyone on the Apple Environmental Team seen an AT&T bill?" Former Vice President Al Gore, an environmental activist, sits on the Apple (Charts, Fortune 500) board.

His blog cheered the decision to switch on Thursday, and suggested the savings should go to AT&T Wireless customers.

AT&T spokesman Mark Siegel said that the change is something that AT&T had been examining for months and that it decided to move up the shift to summary bills, which generally run only a few pages, when they saw the amount of data transfers being done by iPhone users.

"That's great that they're using the phones that way. That's what they're designed for," Siegel said. "But we thought right now, lets have the iPhone customers have this (summary bill) as their default."

Siegel said that the company will always make the detailed call and data transfer information available to customers.

"There are people who want to see when they made a call to what number," he said. Top of page

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Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.