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Cellphones The Almighty Buck

T-Mobile Backs Off Plan To Charge $1.50 For Paper Bills 285

Posted by timothy
from the just-send-me-a-pdf dept.
netbuzz writes "Following a torrent of customer complaints, bad publicity and the threat of a class-action lawsuit, T-Mobile has abandoned a plan announced this summer to charge any customer wanting a paper bill $1.50 per month. While the news is being cheered by many T-Mobile customers, it's not going to be as popular with others who praised the extra fee as an environmentally sound inducement to reduce paper use."
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T-Mobile Backs Off Plan To Charge $1.50 For Paper Bills

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @02:09PM (#29443415)

    They could do just the opposite and give people a $1.50 reduction in their bill if they opt-in to a paperless billing system.

    • by mrdoogee (1179081) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @02:12PM (#29443459)

      I came here to say this. Why not encourage environmentally friendly behavior, instead of punishing for adhering to the status quo.

      • by ironicsky (569792) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @02:17PM (#29443563) Journal

        My bank does this. So does my cable company. $1.00 off if you don't get a bill.

        $0.54 cents a stamp
        +Paper
        +Envelop
        +Ink
        +Big massive industrial printer(I've seen the one the cable company uses, size of a pick up truck... The thing is brand spanking new out of the box)
        +People to refill the equipment and move the bills to the loading docks for Canada Post to come get it.

        All adds up quite quickly.

        I get the majority of my bills as PDF's now.

        • My bank does this, too, in reverse!

          If I give them a check via the telephone, as opposed to sending it in, they charge me a $15 fee!

          • by Ollabelle (980205)
            That's usually because that "service" is farmed out - you're paying the third party's fee.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by jbigboote (1544809)

          And you know what, if T-Mobile offered to email a PDF of my bill every month, that would have been acceptable, but they did not. You had to log in and pull up your billing records. And if you want a PDF, you have to crank your own out. I'd much rather have the officialness of an email from T-Mobile with a PDF they created of my bill, than a PDF I cranked out myself. If a dispute ever arose, I know the PDF I generated will have no weight.

      • by theaveng (1243528) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @02:32PM (#29443783)

        I suggested a similar idea to a bunch of store-owners who were organizing to protest high credit card fees. They said the fees kept skyrocketing, and that meant increased prices, which would hurt the customers. I said if they want to help customers, encourage the shoppers to stop using credit cards by offering a 5% discount for cash payment.

        The store-owners looked at me as if I was nuts. You see they expected credit card companies to reduce fees, but heaven forbid the store owners reduce *their* fees to the customer. That's sacrilegious. Same with T-Mobile - heaven forbid they offer a discount for using paper. They want to collect MORE money not less.

        Aside-

        Discover Card gave me 5 dollars to go paperless. Eventually I decided I didn't like it because I kept forgetting to pay my bill (which ended-up costing me more than 5 dollars in late fees). So I went back to paper. Discover Card balked but when I said, "Give me paper or lose my business," they decided to give me paper statements again.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          Most of those retailers probably don't want to get into spats with the credit card companies, which prohibit charging more for credit transactions than you do for regular transactions.

          They do permit a 'cash discount' price, and so in effect it's probably merely six of one and half a dozen of another, but their enforcement is spotty, which is just what you'd expect of such a program, so it may be more trouble than it's worth.

          • by theaveng (1243528)

            Huh?

            The point was that if credit cards were raping my store's profits, I would ask customers to pay with cash instead, and then pass those savings to the customer with 5% discounts.

        • by spitzak (4019) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @02:59PM (#29444251) Homepage

          Stores don't do that because it hurts impulse buying. If a customer goes in the store with $20 and a credit card, and sees something desirable for $100, but $95 with cash, they are likely to say "well I will come back when I have the cash" and then forget about the purchase entirely. But if there is no price penalty for the credit card then they will probably use the credit card right away.

          • by jc42 (318812)

            Actually, the main reason that few stores give a discount for using cash is that their contracts with the credit-card companies explicitly forbids it. There are a few US states (and a few other countries) that have outlawed such contract terms. But in most places, it's legal, and so stores have a choice of giving every customer the same price or not be allowed to accept credit cards.

            • by theaveng (1243528)

              >>>their contracts with the credit-card companies explicitly forbids it.

              False. The contracts (and most state laws) forbid adding a surcharge for credit card purchases, but you are free to provide a discount for cash purchases. That's why virtually every truck stop in this country offers separate Credit and Cash billing for fuel.

        • by mattack2 (1165421)

          Just set up autopay and you get both benefits.

          • by Obfuscant (592200) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @03:32PM (#29444813)
            Just set up autopay and you get both benefits.

            Yes, you get the benefit of not having a paper record of your bill to use for tax or other purposes, not having a reminder that a bill is due, having the vendor suck the money out of your account before you even know there is a problem with the last bill, and the fun of trying to get the money back when you prove they overcharged you for something.

            Like Comcast, which offered me a "delivered, no cost digital self-install kit" and then went ahead and charged me $10 for it anyway.

            Thanks, I think I'll keep the bill and pay after I see it is correct.

            • by bzipitidoo (647217) <bzipitidoo@yahoo.com> on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @05:09PM (#29446335) Journal

              Going automatic is a scary proposition, fraught with traps. Some fraudulent charge could land on my credit card and be automatically paid before I learn of it. Getting the money back is only one problem. If the charge is big enough, it could overdraw the bank account, and wouldn't the bank love that? Have fun arguing with the bank over the many penalty fees they'll gleefully charge as check after check bounces. Of course, not going automatic means I'm constantly flirting with exorbitant late fees as they play their little games to try to manipulate me into missing the due date. A popular one is to make the monthly due date creep forward, bouncing around a bit to make it less obvious. Over a year, I've had the due date creep from the 15th to the 6th of the month. I dumped that credit card. There's doing without any credit card, but that too is awkward.

              Some problems I've had with going paperless is it breaks down, and they don't email an actual statement but instead a mere notification that a new statement is ready for viewing on their website. Lot of rigamarole logging into email, finding the email, then logging into the website and finding the statement. Then it breaks down as sooner or later, I get a notice by snail mail saying they were unable to deliver the latest notification by email and are permanently switching me back to paper. Gets real old setting up paperless again and again.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by nine-times (778537)

        Well what's the difference really? They could say that the bill is $50 and you have to pay an extra $1.50 for a paper bill, or they could say the bill is $51.50 and you get a $1.50 discount for not receiving paper bills. Same thing.

        But you're right in that it's smarter marketing to frame is as a discount rather than an additional charge.

        • by FooAtWFU (699187)
          It also contributes to the perception of "we are not nickel-and-diming you to death."
        • by pla (258480) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @03:21PM (#29444647) Journal
          Well what's the difference really? They could say that the bill is $50 and you have to pay an extra $1.50 for a paper bill, or they could say the bill is $51.50 and you get a $1.50 discount for not receiving paper bills. Same thing.

          Not the same thing at all.

          For one thing, most utilities have either fixed profit margins or fixed rate schedules. They can't just raise everyone's bill by $1.50 and "offer" to reduce it for playing ball. Whether or not they can charge more for the "value added" service of sending you a bill remains something of a grey area, however, at least until enough of them get spanked by their local PUC for trying crap like this.

          Second, many monthly services have various taxes associated with the underlying service itsef - So making me pay more for the service and taking it off after-the-fact means more taxes than paying less for the service with a "fee" for paper billing (this obviously wouldn't apply in the case of a straight bottom-line sales tax, but the sort of services this entire topic relates to generally don't pay taxes like that).

          Finally - We-the-customers need to take a stand about the nonstop attempts by every company with whom we (have no choice but to) do business, trying to nickel-and-dime us to death. I would love to see some sort of regulation like what New York has for retail, where the company must show the real, actual, final, all-expenses-included price. None of this "39.95 per month plus taxes and fees and random nondescript lineitems, +/- whatever-we-like based on the length of your contract and what model of hardware you either own or rented, adjusted for how many seconds you use it per day per arbitrarily sliding time-windows with different fee structures". Just tell us the goddamned cost up-front. If you can't (or won't) do that, GTFO and make room for someone who will. Not a difference so much as a "stop quibbling about the details and grow a pair" - Just Say No(tm) to one more itsy bitsy fee and tell them where to stick the paper bill they no longer need to send to you, as an ex-customer.
      • I came here to say this. Why not encourage environmentally friendly behavior, instead of punishing for adhering to the status quo.

        Because it doesn't have anything at all to do with being environmentally friendly. It's just a way of sucking more money, they know certain percentage will not switch to paperless, so there's a nice source of extra income. I highly doubt the paper bill costs them $1.50 to send, I'm sure it's more like 50 cents including postage. They have 33 million subscribers, if 10% forget to sign up for paperless, that's 3.3 million bucks they're getting every month, 30 million annually, that's enough to buy a very big

    • by sakdoctor (1087155) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @02:14PM (#29443517) Homepage

      And they could claw back the lost revenue by adding $1.50 onto everybody's bill!

    • by brkello (642429)
      Same thing that I thought. People hate paying more but love a discount. Just market it as paying less if you opt out of paper delivery. I'm kind of surprised they weren't smart enough to do this in the first place.
    • as with the countless other companies that introduced digital/internet-enabled services to cut their own costs and don't pass that on to their customers but instead bill the customers who don't switch... ...they'll just have some accountant-ish spokesguy come out in an obscure interview (if even interviewed about it) in some trade magazine (that the popular media then get to cite; though no mere mortal could run into a supermarket and pick the magazine up to read the whole story, lol) that costs of doing bu

    • by Reece400 (584378)
      Agreed, Primus gives me 10 cents a month for using ebilling. Some other companies will just give you a flat $5 credit when you sign up the first time, but this doesn't really encourage long term usage..
    • If they want me to pay electronically, can I charge them 1.50 for the added risk of electronic commerce? It's one thing to put your check routing number in a paper envelope and sent it by US mail. it's a whole nother level of trust to send it over the internet and rely on their databases to be properly secured. Look at all the whole sale breeches.

      Speaking as a victim of identity theft, Personally, my own weighing of the risks is that I wont do electronic commerce other than insured visa cards until the l

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Glendale2x (210533)

        Your paper check most likely ends up in their ACH database by virtue of it being processed electronically anyway.

    • by Smitty825 (114634) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @02:34PM (#29443825) Homepage Journal

      I'd love to go to a paper-less billing system...except for one thing...

      Why can't the companies just email me a PDF of the bill I normally receive? It would contain the due-date of the bill and how much I owe. If I am splitting the bill with roommates, then it's easy to forward to each other. If I want to keep a record of what I've been charged for, then it's easy for me to store it, etc.

      Currently the way "paperless" billing works is that I receive an email from saying my bill is ready to be seen. I then have to go to their website, enter my username/password (because they've written some sort of Javascript to prevent the browser from remembering it for me), click 3 or 4 times to find my bill and then discover that all of the information is located on 3 or 4 different pages.

      To me, the hassle of receiving a paperless bill isn't worth it...

      • by bilbravo (763359)
        Aren't you going to have to got to the website and enter your login information to pay the bill anyhow?

        (I am assuming that anyone who wants paperless billing is also going to pay bills paperlessly--that is to say, online)
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by azadrozny (576352)
          I think there is a difference between one login/interface to your bank to pay all your bills, and having to login to the websites of 10+ bill payers to collect all the information I need to pay them. Some of my bills are paid only once or twice per year. I would rather not have to remember all the different logons and passwords for every company who wants to send me an electronic bill.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by cayenne8 (626475)
          "Aren't you going to have to got to the website and enter your login information to pay the bill anyhow? "

          Not necessarily, many may just use their bank website to pay ALL their bills from....rather than log onto every different site out there to pay individual bills.

      • by xaxa (988988)

        I got PDF bills from one company (Virgin Mobile UK). They didn't email it -- email isn't secure -- but I could download them from the website.

        What would be really nice is if they'd email me a PDF of the bill, and use my GPG public key to encrypt it. Then I wouldn't need to bother logging in to their system.

        Multiple companies in the UK, especially phone, mobile phone and broadband ones, charge extra (or reduce their fees) if you take paperless billing. Both my banks offer it without an incentive. The gas and

      • by CodeBuster (516420) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @03:36PM (#29444871)

        Why can't the companies just email me a PDF of the bill I normally receive?

        If you had ever worked in web application development or computer security then you wouldn't be asking that question. Can you say phising [wikipedia.org]? There are reasons why online banking and other financial institutions, for example, never use e-mail for account correspondence other than to inform you that your statement is ready for viewing without providing any links . The public Internet exists in a constant state of open warfare and any transaction involving money or billing is bound to be targeted by the bad guys. Could it be made secure? Possibly, but NOT in such a way that average users would (a) be able to set it up OR (b) be able to understand and use it properly.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by oakgrove (845019)

        I'm not going to go into the security implications of it, but you could always use this [mozilla.org] to script the the website and bulldoze through all of the javascript, flash, etc. You can write a script that will take you all the way through logging in, clicking on the "pay my bill" button, fill in your credit card info, everything. Of course, you shouldn't do this.

        But you can.

    • by Sandbags (964742)

      Exactly. I'm under a 2 year contract, and have agreed to pay for the service, which INCLUDES a paper bill. If they're taking it away, not just for environmental reasons, but primarily to save the printing and stamp costs (about $0.56 for a typical mailer if their bill costs as much as our company to mail - we send about 5 billion health statements out anually...) that I expect at the least they'll cut my service costs by an amount appropriate vs their profit margin (if they're clearing 10%, I'd expect not

      • by xaxa (988988)

        I'm all for reduction of environmental waste, but trees are 100% renewable, and clean CO2 out of the air. I'm for cutting down MORE of them, not less (provide we replant, which actually, we do.)

        But your bill isn't printed on wood, it's printed on paper. That requires lots of processing, including pulping the wood, bleaching it (unless it's natural-colour paper) and drying.
        Then there's the printing costs, the printers aren't free to run, and there's pretty nasty chemicals in the ink (unless stated otherwise).
        Moving the mail around is also expensive: trucks/trains full of letters (or even planes?, I don't know how non-urgent mail is sent round the USA).

    • by dhaines (323241)

      They could do just the opposite and give people a $1.50 reduction in their bill if they opt-in to a paperless billing system.

      They'll roll this out in a couple months after the hubbub dies down. Except the discount will, tellingly, be $0.50.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by whoever57 (658626)

      They could do just the opposite and give people a $1.50 reduction in their bill if they opt-in to a paperless billing system.

      For me, it's not worth $1.50 to have to deal with T-Mobile's website. It is the most appalling and annoying site that I have visited for quite a while. Features that used to be there no longer exist and, because of all the scripts and flash, it takes forever to navigate. I'm sure someone at T-Mobile likes the way it "looks", but it is the ultimate example of form before function.

  • i like paper bills (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @02:10PM (#29443431)

    I personally like paper bills... It helps me keep track of when I've PAID those bills...

    • by ktappe (747125)
      And you're not using online banking to both pay and track those payments because.....?
      • by azadrozny (576352) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @02:53PM (#29444157)
        I use banking software, however I rely on those paper statements to tell me when exactly the bill is due, and how much. In the past I have opted into electronic statements, but there is no uniformity in how the statements are delivered. Sometimes I get a PDF emailed to me, but often just an email saying the bill is due, then I must login to find the date and amount. This is too inconsistent. I am waiting for the day when I can use my banking software to download a detailed statement from a single application, and then mark it for payment.
      • by Carnildo (712617)

        I want some protection in case of another incident like the time the gas company accidentally billed me $8000. If that had been set up for direct withdrawl, my rent check and three other utility checks would have bounced before I got the charge reversed, and I'd still be fighting to get it off my credit record.

    • by Futurepower(R) (558542) <MJennings.USA@NOT_any_of_THISgmail.com> on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @02:34PM (#29443823) Homepage
      A paper bill is a legal document. An online bill carries no legal power whatsoever, leaving the account holder with no rights other than what the company wants the account holder to have.
      • Signed PDF? (Score:2, Insightful)

        by ubergeek65536 (862868)

        Why not allow customers to download or get emailed a digitally signed pdf copy of the statement or bill.

      • The debt is owed whether the bill is paper or electronic. I invoice customers all the time for $1K-$20K in monthly services. I've had to go to court once or twice for people who have tried to make the same argument. The electronic version is just as good as paper.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by KharmaWidow (1504025)

        The exact reason I get paper bills. I deduct for home business, I need records. Plus, when you go paperless you have to go to their site and manually download the bill. It would be a different story if they emailed a secure PDF to you.

      • This is actually a good point that often goes unmentioned when the topic of paperless billing or financial transactions comes up. Paper bills and statements have a long and well litigated history as "official" legal documents. The written and common laws are generally much less clear about electronic files or records; even when additional techniques, such as digital signatures, are employed. If you want to cover your ass legally, then paper is the only way to go, accept no substitutes. However, practically
      • by CajunArson (465943) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @04:22PM (#29445587) Journal

        A paper bill is a legal document. An online bill carries no legal power whatsoever

        Wrong. The rest of your post falls into irrelevance.

        For those of you who have never taken a Contract Law class, throw out the notion that documents have to be stamped and signed with fancy fonts on
        just the right kind of paper to be valid for normal business, that went out of style in the 19th century. Note that some other transactions that are not private contracts may still require notarization and other enhanced forms of evidence like a recording of title, but we are talking about online bills for normal services not transferring title to your house. The online record of your bill has exactly the same legal power as if the record were printed out onto a sheet of paper... in fact if there ever was a legal challenge over the accuracy of the bill, that is exactly what would happen, it would be printed out and submitted as evidence. The form of storage for the information contained in the bill has zero relevance to the legal rights and responsibilities of the parties. For those of you who've heard about the Statute of Frauds, any digital record held by your cable/cell/whatever provider is a "writing" just as if it was hand carved into a block of Italian marble.

    • by vlm (69642)

      I personally like paper bills... It helps me keep track of when I've PAID those bills...

      That is why they dislike them... they love when you have to pay a late fee

    • Exactly.

      I'm going to be leaving T-Mobile UK shortly, because they overcharged me for several months having screwed up a transfer to a new package, and then had the audacity to accuse me of lying because I didn't notice the small amount in question immediately. (There is now way that any reasonable person with my usage history would have asked for the combination of facilities they claim I did: it was basically the new package plus part of my old package providing essentially the same service that they hadn'

  • discount (Score:4, Insightful)

    by lapsed (1610061) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @02:11PM (#29443437)
    I doubt that they would have gotten the same reaction if they had offered a $1.50 discount to customers agreeing to receive electronic bills.
  • So... (Score:2, Insightful)

    When I read things like this I often wonder if the people promoting these environmentally friendly business processes are actually not that environmentally friendly and instead simply motivated by greed. The problem I see is that average (you know, 100 IQ etc.) people are too stupid to realize the business hippy just wants more of their money, and have discovered that using politically correct buzzwords has a calming and mesmerizing effect on the cattle...
    • If they were truly environmentally oriented, they would have given a discount for going paperless with the money they save from not sending out paper bills. (I'm sure as heck it wouldn't be anywhere near $1.50/month though! I could print off my bill in triplicate at the library for that much :\)

      • by iamhassi (659463)
        "they would have given a discount for going paperless with the money they save from not sending out paper bills. (I'm sure as heck it wouldn't be anywhere near $1.50/month though!"

        or even just give them $1 off, doesn't have to be $1.50, or give them something near worthless, like 10 free text messages, or an extra 100 minutes a month.
        • by Lumpy (12016)

          Actually you hit it on the head.

          Screw giving a monetary number.

          sign up for no paper billing and get an extra 100 minutes a month!

          that would be like them giving away $0.08US to each customer.

          • >> Screw giving a monetary number.

            >> sign up for no paper billing and get an extra 100 minutes a month!

            Except that overage minutes are billed at 45Â.

            So the pitch would be "sign up for no paper billing and get an extra 3 minutes a month!"

    • Actually when it's a simple matter of saving money, the average Joe is probably more savvy than the average Slashdotter.

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      The problem I see is that average (you know, 100 IQ etc.) people are too stupid

      IQ tests measure your ability to take an IQ test. The last one I took I scored 140, but I assure you that in a LOT of things that really matter, I'm as dumb as a box of rocks. Don't discount normal people; everybody's a genius at something and an idiot at something else.

  • by stillnotelf (1476907) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @02:11PM (#29443447)
    While I understand the environmental argument, paper bills make for accountability. With online-only billing, you have no way to resolve certain account disputes, because they hold all the data! I'm not putting on my tinfoil hat and saying they'll deliberately screw up the records and double bill you - but mistakes do happen. Having a paper trail is the best way to protect yourself from mistakes. Also, consider this: what happens to your account when you close it? How can you prove that you had the account once it's closed if it's online-only? With a paper trail, you can prove it! (This applies more to banks than cell phones...)
    • While I don't necessarily disagree with you - how hard is it to mimic a printing process to create nearly perfect replicas of paper bills from any company? I could probably spend a few hours creating a template, go down to Kinko's and have a T-mobile bill in my hand saying whatever I wanted it to say.
    • by Lumpy (12016)

      Electronic bills != online DB access.

      My bank sends me PDF bank statements each month, I can go back to the last one and refer to it at any time. Plus they actually digitally sign them so they are as legally sound as paper ones.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Sandbags (964742)

      I agree. For anything interest bearing, anytime I have a billing dispute, for purchase records, and more, I print most of my bills anyway. I keep all copies in file for 5-7 years after the account is closed. (only 3 years for my utilities regular bills).

      Many companies have tried to make me switch to electronic invoices. I only accept where they automatically send a complete invoice as a non-editable file that can be saved (and printed) seperate from e-mail (aka, not embeded HTML), i do not accept from c

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Ossifer (703813)
      Agreed, as someone that T-Mobile attempted to screw over, I was very glad to have my paper to be able to show them that they were wrong, $400 wrong... They canceled my account, immediately blocked online access to records, and proceeded to charge me an "early termination fee" of $400 (two lines). If I didn't have paper copies, I would have been out $400...

      Background: In switching to AT&T, I wanted the process to go smoothly and thus ported my numbers in advance (two weeks) of contract termination
  • Dear T-Mobile... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Lumpy (12016) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @02:13PM (#29443481) Homepage

    Give a "$1.50 a month Discount" to all customers asking to not have a paper bill sent.

    This goes over very well if you give a discount instead of trying to boost your profit margin.

    • by greymond (539980)

      They really need to hire a marketing person badly.

    • by Ossifer (703813)
      Or maybe charge the real cost (nothing even close to $1.50) for those who opt for paper when signing up new accounts.
    • Maybe they weren't trying to make a profit at all?

      Are you sure that the cost of sending a paper bill is $1.50?

      The stamp alone is $0.40. That leaves $1.10. The paper has a cost. The printing has a cost.
      The facilities has a cost. The power has a cost. The labor has a cost.

      Cost of email bills is basically the cost of one fancy computer and one guy to run it.

  • Use less paper then (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Neil Watson (60859) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @02:16PM (#29443539) Homepage

    If T-mobile bills are anything like the ones in my post they could reduce paper by condensing the bills to just one page and stop including fliers to sell me more products. I suspect however, that this was more about another adding another charge and not about actually saving money.

    There has been a law passed in my area that charges a few cents for plastic shopping bags. The assumption was that the charge would somehow go to bettering the environment. Instead it goes into the retailer's pocket. Revenue by legislation. Glad I use bins.

    • There has been a law passed in my area that charges a few cents for plastic shopping bags. The assumption was that the charge would somehow go to bettering the environment.

      It does. It causes people to use less bags.

      Glad I use bins.

      I'm glad you use bins too. Thank you for caring.

  • Seriously. Speakeasy [speakeasy.net] has been doing this for at least the last five or six years, at least with their home service, and nobody's pissing and moaning and calling them evil.

    • by blincoln (592401)

      nobody's pissing and moaning and calling them evil.

      Speakeasy are evil, but the only people who generally know this are the ones who've been bitten by the hidden early-disconnection fee they started charging a few years ago.

      • by solios (53048)

        Eh. They're no more of an inconvenience than any other ISP, and are far, far less evil than Comcast or Verizon when it comes to what they'll let you do with the connectivity they're selling you.

  • Going paperless (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @02:17PM (#29443567)

    I tried to go paperless with T-Mobile a few months ago and they keep sending me paper bills any way. Is this just to get an extra $1.50 out of me every month? Oh, and if you go paperless you have to agree to have automatic debit from your checking account...make sure you read that part of the fine print.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by mdm-adph (1030332)

      No, you don't. I have T-Mobile -- signed up for paperless billing, but no where was I required to sign up for any sort of automatic debit. They don't even have a card number on file for me.

    • you have to agree to have automatic debit from your checking account

      That is not true. T-Mobile accepts automatic payment using a filed and active credit card. They also permit online viewing with manual payment if you prefer (direct bank account debit is one of the available options, but it is not the only one). I know because I use T-Mobile with the automatic CC payment option (I keep a special low-limit credit card NOT issued by my bank for small online purchases; although I wish they would allow PayPal and Google Checkout as well).

  • torrent (Score:4, Funny)

    by Haxzaw (1502841) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @02:18PM (#29443577)
    "Following a torrent of customer complaints" Is that torrent available on the Pirate Bay? I have been unable to find it anywhere.
  • Here in Finland most mobile & broadband operators charge for the bill. Manual, email and electronic bills are free. There were some outbreaks when the first one did it, but it was eventually accepted (and got a lot of people using electronic billing). Personally, I prefer the electronic billing as you can't lose bills when you get them directly to your bank account.
    • by Anonym1ty (534715)
      What exactly is a manual bill?
    • Here in Finland most mobile & broadband operators charge for the bill. Manual, email and electronic bills are free. There were some outbreaks when the first one did it, but it was eventually accepted (and got a lot of people using electronic billing). Personally, I prefer the electronic billing as you can't lose bills when you get them directly to your bank account.

      That's right, they just take some money out of your bank account every month. How much? Who cares, it's easy.
      I like to look at my bills when they come in to see if they are high this month. Did I use more text messaging? Was I on the phone over the amount of time that I get as part of the bill? Did the phone company throw some other random charge on there that I want to challenge?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @02:23PM (#29443657)

    Worse than that--instead of issuing signed PDFS, they'd probably do the same thing most online companies do, and either:

        1) have some god awful non-platform agnostic flash application. I'm sorry--if it's for billing purposes, you need to support *MY* computer. I don't accept the notion of any software requirement to get my trash picked up, or pay for the phone bill on my plain old only does phone calls and SMS cellphone.

        2) Use unsigned HTML--in which case I'll print it out anyway, as it's my understanding I need papercopies to comply with tax law. Thanks environmentalists--you've just made me use my own printer, with toner that's probably a worse impact on the environment than whatever they use at their billing facility. But that's okay... because...

    most people won't even understand what it would mean to digitally sign a statement (so nobody implements it)... therefore stops me from hitting "view source"--changing my displayed bill from $125 to $25, saving the html, hitting print, and cutting them a check for $25?

    Next week when they complain, I underpaid--I send them a copy of my perfectly legitimate bill for $25, and tell them that *they* have a computer error. Since I'm the only one with a paper trail, it's pretty much their error by definition. Every one of their backups says $125? Okay--but I'm still the only person with a legitimate paper trail...

    Sorry--paper is out there for a reason.

    • by jmauro (32523)

      Then they call the collection agency for their $100 dollars. And they'll drag you through the fight for years. Sure, you can counter sue, but they'll still win (and it'll still cost you way more than $100 dollars).

      They'll get the full amount regardless of how cute you are with editing the bills.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Alphanos (596595)

      ... therefore [sic] stops me from hitting "view source"--changing my displayed bill from $125 to $25, saving the html, hitting print, and cutting them a check for $25?

      Next week when they complain, I underpaid--I send them a copy of my perfectly legitimate bill for $25, and tell them that *they* have a computer error. Since I'm the only one with a paper trail, it's pretty much their error by definition. Every one of their backups says $125? Okay--but I'm still the only person with a legitimate paper trail...

      Sorry--paper is out there for a reason.

      Tip: To make sense out of the above comment, simply print it. Once printed on paper it's automatically true! Paper's pretty magical that way.

  • I hate the lies (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Lord Byron II (671689) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @02:23PM (#29443659)

    Companies always pass it off as being "green", but that's not the real reason. T-mobile stores are still overly-lit, selling merchandise that's over-packaged, and handing out paper fliers.

    The truth is that its expensive to print bills. And I don't blame them for wanting to get rid of them, but if you're going to save money, then pass a little of it on to me.

    My bank just paid me $5 to go to e-bills and for me, that was enough.

    Carrot vs. Stick

  • Because paper bills are unnecessary now,
    and are therefore an unjustifiable environmental cost,
    the government should charge a "sin tax" on such unnecessary
    paperwork. The tax could then be passed on to the consumer,
    who of course has the option to turn off their paper bills and
    save the tax.

    I know you Americans don't like government very much,
    but this might be a nice extra revenue that could be put to use
    for other environmentally beneficial programs.

    Tax shifting is the way to go. Increase environmental sin taxe

  • Who is the bloody stupid PHB who came up with this? If you want people to accept non-paper bills, you don't charge them $1.50 to continue to receive paper bills. What you do is give them a $1.50 discount (or some other incentive) to get the electronic bill instead.

    Be sure to print "-$1.50 Green Discount" on the bill too. The fools will love you for it. In fact, they may not even notice when you raise their fees $3.00 six months later.

  • I might actually care what they were saying if they weren't already nickel-and-diming me with little fees. I understand why they don't include taxes in the quoted price (I think that's state law, for most things other than fuel the sales tax *has* to be itemized separately) but they stick in a bunch of other fees that *aren't* taxes but somehow they feel OK pretending that the quoted price is real. (Yes I know all the other cell companies do it too but that doesn't make it OK.) So I don't believe for a s

  • I mean really. Is it that hard to figure out? OK, so maybe you don't raise prices for six months and just eat it for that period. People think of paper bills as a necessity, not a luxury. You charge for luxuries but offer discounts to remove a necessity. Everyone is happy that way.
  • The lesson here is that you once people get used to something, it's very hard to change. People are used to free paper bills, so they're going to put up a fight when T-Mobile tries to change that. On the other hand, people are used to being gouged on the pricing of text messaging, so they don't put up enough of a fight to get that changed.

    The text message pricing is far more offensive, but it's not new. And besides, if you don't like it, where else are you going to go? So much for free market competition.

  • What I hate, is when my bills come VIA EMAIL. That is highly insecure. I'm not naming any names on this, but a few businesses I've done business with will charge a fee if you don't go paperless, and then they send all your transactions to you via plain text email.

    That is bad. Very bad. I much prefer the "Your statement is ready, click here" and you have to login.

    I think it'd be awesome if some of these companies would send this stuff to you via PGP, but alas too much of the population sucks for them to ev

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