Friday, July 27, 2007

Cellphone bills

I liked this funny post by David Pogue on his first iPhone cell phone bill.
For starters, although I signed up for what iTunes told me was a $60 plan (450 minutes, unlimited Internet), the bill says I have a $40 voice plan and a $20 Internet plan, and lists them on separate pages.

The first bill, believe it or not, comes to $150. It’s filled with unexplained services and features that were never mentioned during the signup process, like MEDIA MAX, EXPD M2M, VOICE PRIVACY, and AT&T DIRECT BILL.

After studying this thing for 20 minutes, I think I’ve got it figured out: activation charge ($36), prorated monthly fee for June ($26 for voice, $13 for Internet use), taxes and fees ($15), plus July billed in advance ($40 voice, $20 data).

All of that fits on three dense pages. But then–get this–I get SIX PAGES of listings of data tidbits that the iPhone has downloaded in the form of email and Web pages–KILOBYTE BY KILOBYTE! Every graphic on every Web page, every message sent or received–it’s all carefully listed by date and time.
Heh heh heh. Cell phone companies should just wrap their product in a big sticker that says "your first bill will be twice as large as you think". Billing one month in advance totally confuses customers, and phone companies are bad (generally) about explaining it. That means a $60 plan will cost you $120 the first month. David got off lucky with just $15 in taxes -- if it was a landline it would cost $60++. The listing of data consumption is a simple holdover that no one thought about (or had the time to address) -- it's this kind of detail that seperates great customer experiences from regular interactions.

As landline usage shrinks and cell phone usage grows expect to see all kinds of taxes added to cellular plans. Governments want that money.


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