Early adopters of Apple’s iPhone are getting their first service bills from AT&T – and some customers say they are so detailed they belong in libraries.
Justine Ezarik, a Pittsburgh graphic designer and active Internet blogger, got her first bill on Saturday. She says it was so huge – 300 pages – it was delivered in a box. AT&T detailed every text message and Internet use for her billing period.
"This is so silly," she told USA TODAY. "There’s no reason they need to send you this much information."
A video Ezarik made of her experience uncrating the bill has been viewed online more than 100,000 times since Monday. Consumer tech blogs picked it up, spurring chatter across the Web about the bulky bills.
Tech site Ars Technica describes a 52-page, doubled-sided bill. Oak Harbor, Ohio, teacher Kelly Croy also reports receiving a 52-page bill: "The biggest phone bill I’ve ever gotten in my life," he says.
AT&T spokesman Mark Siegel insists these situations are exceptions. "We’re not sending lots of boxed bills to customers," he says.
The company itemizes text messages and Internet usage on its data network, which adds to the normal heft of the bill. Siegel says that customers who don’t want the details, such as Croy, can call AT&T and change their billing.
Options include summary bills or online billing.
"We don’t want to presume for the customer that they want detail or don’t want detail. That needs to be up to them," he says.
Croy has since called AT&T to change his billing. "If you buy a car, you get a bill that’s several pages long. You don’t need 52 pages for a phone bill," he says.
Rob Enderle, an independent analyst at the Enderle Group, calls the finely detailed bills "stupid."
"Not only does it cost AT&T more to do this, it just upsets customers. It’s bad business," he says.
The iPhone, which launched in June, costs $499 or $599, and service plans range from $59.99 to $99.99 monthly. Ezarik -a heavy user of text-messaging – says her first bill was for $275.
"A lot of that was taxes, activation fees and pro-rated charges," she says. "I was shocked at how high it was."