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

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the just-send-me-a-pdf dept.

Cellphones 285

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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285 comments

Yay (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29443385)

yay

If they could just get it right... (2, Insightful)

onceuponatime (821046) | more than 4 years ago | (#29444121)

I hate that. But only because they get it wrong. O2 do that with the iphone accounts and you cannot get them to change it. I used my iphone for business and have to save the bills so I left them. I wouldn't have a problem if they simply gave you the option to receive the bills as pdf's via email, so the amount of work I have to save them is to just push a button. That would then be preferable to paper bills, however, forcing you to login and navigate their website and download them and if you forget one month do more work is just too much trouble to stay with the provider, so I left them for a provider which did provide paper bills.

Why can't they just get it right? It's not rocket science.

Re:If they could just get it right... (1)

Stewie241 (1035724) | more than 4 years ago | (#29444203)

I hate that. But only because they get it wrong. O2 do that with the iphone accounts and you cannot get them to change it. I used my iphone for business and have to save the bills so I left them. I wouldn't have a problem if they simply gave you the option to receive the bills as pdf's via email, so the amount of work I have to save them is to just push a button. That would then be preferable to paper bills, however, forcing you to login and navigate their website and download them and if you forget one month do more work is just too much trouble to stay with the provider, so I left them for a provider which did provide paper bills.

Why can't they just get it right? It's not rocket science.

Because launching that sort of data all over the Internet in an unsecure channel isn't necessarily a good thing?

Agreed though that they do need a good way to do it.

Ian

Just reduce the bill (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:Just reduce the bill (5, Insightful)

mrdoogee (1179081) | more than 4 years ago | (#29443459)

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

Re:Just reduce the bill (4, Informative)

ironicsky (569792) | more than 4 years ago | (#29443563)

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.

Re:Just reduce the bill (1)

Achromatic1978 (916097) | more than 4 years ago | (#29443785)

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!

Is electronic bill paying really greener? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29443817)

I'd be curious about the relative green-ness of electronic versus paper bill paying.

you used how many watts of energy to have your computer on, to have your screen on, to have the modem on, and then all the downstream electronics from your house, compared to the energy it needed to produce, deliver and process the bill.

Re:Is electronic bill paying really greener? (1)

themaneatingcow (1430127) | more than 4 years ago | (#29443917)

Most of us have our computers on all the time anyway. Is there really any added cost from downloading a pdf?

Re:Is electronic bill paying really greener? (1)

frosty_tsm (933163) | more than 4 years ago | (#29443933)

When you factor in the gas used to transport the mail, plus the servers used by the shipping company, the gas used to cut the trees, transport them, make paper, etc, it quickly becomes more energy efficient to send things electronically.

Re:Is electronic bill paying really greener? (1)

Leto-II (1509) | more than 4 years ago | (#29444009)

I'd be curious about the relative green-ness of electronic versus paper bill paying.

you used how many watts of energy to have your computer on, to have your screen on, to have the modem on, and then all the downstream electronics from your house, compared to the energy it needed to produce, deliver and process the bill.

Are you assuming that all those electronic components would have been turned off otherwise? I hardly think that is a valid assumption. Whether or not I get an electronic bill, my computer, screen, router, etc. will all be turned on and suckling data from the sweet teat of the Internet.

Re:Just reduce the bill (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29443629)

This $1.50 figure is arbitrary. It does not cost T-Mobile a dollar fifty to send me my bill. If I was going to pay for them to communicate with me (which I won't, at least directly), I wouldn't pay more than the cost of a stamp, and envelope, paper and ink.

Re:Just reduce the bill (1)

mftb (1522365) | more than 4 years ago | (#29443709)

Then don't "purchase" the bill. This is exactly what such a programme would be encouraging.

Re:Just reduce the bill (1)

TomTraynor (82129) | more than 4 years ago | (#29444229)

It may be arbitrary, but, there are a lot of things they figured into this.

1. Profit, they figured it was a quick way to goose the revenue if no one complained.
2. The printers are fairly expensive to maintain. Even if they lease them they have to pay a fixed cost per page and probably a surcharge for printing beyond a set limit.
3. They figure out the cost of overhead (rent, taxes, utilities and staff) and figure out how many pages they print per year and then calculate the per-page cost and then tack on a profit margin.
4. Did I mention they probably wanted to make a quick profit from this?
5. Greenwashing. They can then trumpet the fact that they are being more 'green' and allowing their customers to go 'green' too. Cynical me interprets 'green' as make more money at the cost of the customer, did I mention profit earlier?

Re:Just reduce the bill (3, Insightful)

theaveng (1243528) | more than 4 years ago | (#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:Just reduce the bill (2, Informative)

Atlantis-Rising (857278) | more than 4 years ago | (#29443941)

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.

Re:Just reduce the bill (4, Insightful)

spitzak (4019) | more than 4 years ago | (#29444251)

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.

Re:Just reduce the bill (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29443909)

This kind of racket is nothing new all the same. The grocery stores around where I live back in the spring were going to Green Week or whatever the hell it was to launch a new "Eco-friendly" policy -- of charging 5 cents for every plastic bag you use.

I'm guessing they realized later how much of a nightmare it is to charge the customer for 400+ dollars of groceries then stop and count all the bags used to tack on a few extra dollars.

I think in this case however it was competition that stopped them from doing it (As I know I'm not charged myself when I go.) It's like both sides of the two grocery franchises were looking at each other going "Ok... you first. (And we'll advertise free bags as a way to undermine your customer base.)"

Re:Just reduce the bill (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29444029)

Well it's not like all those people just printing out these statement over and over at home is all that environmentally friendly either. Some people just want to read it on paper, or need to hand over 'on paper proof' of the transactions they made.

Re:Just reduce the bill (1)

LordAndrewSama (1216602) | more than 4 years ago | (#29444089)

If they were interested in being environmentally friendly, yes.

since they're interested in using the environmentally friendly feelings of their customers for extra profit, no.

Re:Just reduce the bill (1, Insightful)

nine-times (778537) | more than 4 years ago | (#29444149)

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.

Re:Just reduce the bill (5, Insightful)

sakdoctor (1087155) | more than 4 years ago | (#29443517)

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

Re:Just reduce the bill (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29444051)

I'm sure they could just creep it in over time with all the other fees. Half the "fees and taxes" aren't government mandated anyhow (they're just misc. stuff the cell companies charge you).

Re:Just reduce the bill (1)

brkello (642429) | more than 4 years ago | (#29443559)

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.

Re:Just reduce the bill (1)

Animaether (411575) | more than 4 years ago | (#29443587)

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 business are rising, especially in these troubled times, so instead of charging everybody $1.50 extra and those who want paper bills $3.00 extra, they're already passing on their cost savings by only changing the pricing by $0.00 and +$1.50 respectively.

Good luck wading through their financial records to prove that they're lying through their grinning teeth.

Re:Just reduce the bill (1)

Reece400 (584378) | more than 4 years ago | (#29443667)

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..

can I charge them 1.50$ ? (2, Interesting)

goombah99 (560566) | more than 4 years ago | (#29443725)

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 laws are changed to make it their responsibility if they lose my bank account information. When that happens my expectation will be that they will pay the proper attention to security and it will be safer than mailing checks.

Re:Just reduce the bill (5, Insightful)

Smitty825 (114634) | more than 4 years ago | (#29443825)

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...

Re:Just reduce the bill (1)

onceuponatime (821046) | more than 4 years ago | (#29444205)

You echo my sentiments exactly, as I said above. You'd think they would put a little effort into thinking about just how this will work in practise. Imagine you have

- telephone null
- water bill
- electricity bill
- council tax bill
- bank statements

and so and and so one and each of them want you to login, navigate around, be entertained by them over and over each month. What a nightmare! It's enough hassle dealing with spam, this is like the new spam.

Re:Just reduce the bill (1)

Sandbags (964742) | more than 4 years ago | (#29443831)

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 a $0.56 reduction, but more like $0.50).

Charging me more to get a bill? not on your life.

Even for the companies for which I do NOT have a contract, like credit cards, utility bills, etc, my current billed rate included a hard copy. Take that away, and i want a discount. You're saving, I get nothing, does not compute, especially for inductires that have to get my written permission (credit companies), or that of a geverning body (utilities) to change my rates, annual fees, charges, etc.

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.)

Re:Just reduce the bill (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29444209)

Same thing either way... What they are doing is charging you for concrete accountability - has anyone else ever had online billing records change over time? Much harder to doctor a paper statement.

i like paper bills (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29443431)

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

Re:i like paper bills (1)

ktappe (747125) | more than 4 years ago | (#29443627)

And you're not using online banking to both pay and track those payments because.....?

Re:i like paper bills (3, Insightful)

azadrozny (576352) | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

A paper bill is a legal document. (5, Interesting)

Futurepower(R) (558542) | more than 4 years ago | (#29443823)

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.

Re:A paper bill is a legal document. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29444041)

Neither bill is a legal document. The contract is the legal document. You're expected to pay whether they send you a bill or not.

Signed PDF? (2, Insightful)

ubergeek65536 (862868) | more than 4 years ago | (#29444115)

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

Re:i like paper bills (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 4 years ago | (#29443953)

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

discount (4, Insightful)

lapsed (1610061) | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:discount (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29443625)

but that would require them to, you know, think.

So... (2, Insightful)

ground.zero.612 (1563557) | more than 4 years ago | (#29443439)

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...

Re:So... (1)

Deltaspectre (796409) | more than 4 years ago | (#29443491)

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 :\)

Re:So... (1)

iamhassi (659463) | more than 4 years ago | (#29443671)

"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.

Re:So... (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 4 years ago | (#29443695)

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.

Re:So... (1)

fulldecent (598482) | more than 4 years ago | (#29444183)

>> 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!"

Re:So... (1)

ClosedSource (238333) | more than 4 years ago | (#29443497)

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

Re:So... (1)

valinor89 (1564455) | more than 4 years ago | (#29443533)

Shhh!! Don't type anymore... Do you want to destroy our economy and political sistems? Never told ya truth hurts?

Re:So... (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#29443913)

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.

Paper bills = accountability (5, Insightful)

stillnotelf (1476907) | more than 4 years ago | (#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...)

Re:Paper bills = accountability (1)

religious freak (1005821) | more than 4 years ago | (#29443541)

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.

Re:Paper bills = accountability (1)

stillnotelf (1476907) | more than 4 years ago | (#29443623)

I agree with you in the case of deliberate fraud - with fraud on either side, paper bills aren't going to be a solution. I'm just talking about billing mistakes and (with banking) having a paper trail on closed accounts if the taxman comes...

Re:Paper bills = accountability (1)

theaveng (1243528) | more than 4 years ago | (#29443875)

It's only fraud if you get caught.
If you don't get caught it's called politics.

Re:Paper bills = accountability (1)

techwrench (586424) | more than 4 years ago | (#29443661)

I print my online bills and save them electronically.

I have a copy with the date printed on my electronic copy; plus I have records from the bank as to when the bill was processed.

If the business I am dealing with has a negative reputation for attempting to double-bill, or harassing me when the _bill has been paid_, the bank sends a check. This insures that the bank receives the check back. I print those checks also, if there is any doubt.

A decent bank or credit union will have these features on the website. It makes it sooo much easier to track your expenditures.

Re:Paper bills = accountability (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 4 years ago | (#29443719)

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:Paper bills = accountability (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29443993)

PDF would be fine, and my bank does PDFs too..... but they won't email me them and the damn email doesn't include a direct link to it either! So I end up logging in and surfing through their horrible menu system to get them the PDF, UGH.

Re:Paper bills = accountability (1)

cellurl (906920) | more than 4 years ago | (#29443835)

Yea, the ebills should be pdf's, not html. That would hold up better in court.

Re:Paper bills = accountability (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29443997)

So print the reports, download them (most banks allow you to download the records - and you can certainly prove you had an account with a bank unless it's a very shady bank that lets anybody sign up without physical presence to sign the deal (uh. paypal, I guess.)), etc.

Yes, you could have forged those records on your computer, then printed them, etc.

Then again, if you were so determined, you could quite easily forge a regular paper bill from your cell service provider or even your bank. When's the last time you saw security measures on the paper from bills / account statements?

In the end, it's going to be your word vs theirs in a dispute. You can wave some printed bill at them all you want when they say "the computer says something else", and you might get lucky and have somebody there try and sort out the mess.. but odds are they only have a computer to go by as well. There is no real paper trail, there is no forensic evidence that shows employee X hand-counted the minutes you used on your phone with a stopwatch while he followed you around and that his stopwatch was fast.

paper trails are overrated for the average consumer, except in voting.

Re:Paper bills = accountability (1)

Virtucon (127420) | more than 4 years ago | (#29444035)

You also can't produce records when needed. It's happened to me before regarding checks. Now I don't even get photocopies of the checks I write. First you got your checks back, then you got photocopies of them now nothing. I run a small business and it's essential to get these from time to time. Now I have to go through a hassle, pay the bank and wait a couple of weeks to get copies of the checks. I wouldn't object to electronic billing if I could get easy, verifiable access to PDF files that would stand up in court.

Re:Paper bills = accountability (2, Insightful)

Sandbags (964742) | more than 4 years ago | (#29444045)

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 companies that send me a "reminder" as I'll NEVER go there just to print the bill... and why should I at my time and my expense if I'm not getting discounted for the trouble?

CUT DOWN THE TREES, they're a 100% renewable resource, reduce CO2, and I don't even want to HEAR about landfill space (we have a national shortage of landfills with a multi-hundred year waiting list, and could use as much trash as we can generate that's non-toxic...)

The farm trees for paper, like they farm wheat (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29444177)

I never understood the "save a tree" crap.
They farm trees for paper, the same way they farm wheat for bread.
If I don't eat a slice of bread no one commends me for saving a stalk of wheat.

Yeah, I know there are other things that are environmental problems besides growing the trees, but it was "saving the trees" that was the root cause of this "don't use paper" admonition.

Environmentalism causes a lot of superstitious behaviour.

Re:Paper bills = accountability (1)

DancesWithWolves (73194) | more than 4 years ago | (#29444187)

You could save the online bills to your computer. Many of them are available as PDFs. But, yes, it requires a certain discipline on your part rather than just having them show up in the mail.

I also agree with other posters that companies don't generally do this to go "green", but to make a buck. That is why T-Mobile's plan sounds more offensive.

US behind the times? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29443479)

It doesn't seem that surprising - charging for paper bills is pretty common practice in the UK now.

Dear T-Mobile... (4, Insightful)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 4 years ago | (#29443481)

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.

Re:Dear T-Mobile... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29443753)

Why not do both and give them a $1 discount instead. This way the customers have an insentive to switch to electronic billing and it's still a net profit for the company.

Re:Dear T-Mobile... (1)

greymond (539980) | more than 4 years ago | (#29443757)

They really need to hire a marketing person badly.

Re:Dear T-Mobile... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29443867)

Or executives that don't have their head up to the shoulders into their own rectum.

I mean come on, this is Business and Marketing 101 here.

Re:Dear T-Mobile... (1)

Ossifer (703813) | more than 4 years ago | (#29443809)

Or maybe charge the real cost (nothing even close to $1.50) for those who opt for paper when signing up new accounts.

Re:Dear T-Mobile... (1)

zmnatz (1502127) | more than 4 years ago | (#29443819)

My thoughts exactly. If you're actually trying to save money because paper billing is expensive, then you're better off telling customers they can reduce their bill by going paperless.

Re:Dear T-Mobile... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29444151)

I'm month-to-month with T-Mobile, and when I heard about this racket I called to tell them I was going to start shopping for another wireless provider. They offered me a credit to my account of $18 in return for signing a one-year contract (this was after having been transferred to an account retention specialist). I suggested they credit me $9 and I make a "gentleman's agreement" with them to stay on as their customer for six more months. To my surprise, they went for it. I got the credit on my next bill -- I wonder if they'll try to take it back now that the $1.50 charge is being abandoned.

Oh the irony.. (1)

DiscountBorg(TM) (1262102) | more than 4 years ago | (#29443519)

I'm all for reducing waste and saving the environment, but so often it seems that the best way to make money off of customers is to invent some kind of 'environment' related fee.. if you are against it, you must not care about the environment! Nevermind the profit.. Pay your $0.25 per plastic bag, and save the environment at the same time by donating $0.245 to the chain *cough* environment.. (Maybe I'm getting a little bitter in my old age here.)

Use less paper then (5, Interesting)

Neil Watson (60859) | more than 4 years ago | (#29443539)

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.

Speakeasy does this... (1)

solios (53048) | more than 4 years ago | (#29443547)

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.

Re:Speakeasy does this... (1)

blincoln (592401) | more than 4 years ago | (#29444055)

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.

Going paperless (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

Already a reality (1)

da_matta (854422) | more than 4 years ago | (#29443583)

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.

Re:Already a reality (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 4 years ago | (#29443821)

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?

e-bills save environment lol (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29443603)

You know how much paper I toss in the trash at work. This e-bill shit is just that, shit. They save money on stamps and use the excuse of "saving the trees". This environment propaganda makes me sick, and I am sick of seeing it everywhere.

Good to hear! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29443621)

Many people I know dont have a computer or dont know how to use them. Its good to hear consumers drag down to reality executives that are far away from reality or simply don't care about everyone. Sadly I know the decision to enforce $1.50 paper bill charge and then back off of it was a financial one and not humanitarian one...

Paper, Accountability (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

I hate the lies (4, Insightful)

Lord Byron II (671689) | more than 4 years ago | (#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

Re:I hate the lies (1)

cellurl (906920) | more than 4 years ago | (#29443887)

I am surprised no one in this discussion has offered a T-Mobile replacement.... Actually, thats why I read this thread, but nada....
I want to buy an Android-G1, but $1000/yr typical usage, forget it.

Re:I hate the lies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29444153)

I'm amazed at how many people are saying their bank gave them $5 to go to e-bills. Mine doesn't give anything for e-statements.

Unless you also have an automatic deposit each month (we have 5) and use your debit 15 times a month (we do), and then they give you 5% interest on your checking account.

THAT's what got ME to switch.

As usual, the US is 10 years behind the crowd.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29443669)

This has been standard in Europe for a very long time, and all the carriers are doing it. T-Com once even offered a 10 EUR incentive for everyone switching their landline billing to online-only. I've been getting my bills on the web for *years*.

Re:As usual, the US is 10 years behind the crowd.. (1)

Synchis (191050) | more than 4 years ago | (#29443767)

Many places in Canada also do this. I read the story and wondered what the big deal was.

I believe even Bell Canada now charges for paper statements, and they have an opt-in system for paper bills, instead of opt-out. Now Bell didn't introduce this system all at once either. They did it quietly and grandfathered it in. Any new customers or existing customers who made changes to their accounts were told that they would be charged if they wanted paper. Existing customers that did nothing could continue receiving the paper statements free of charge.

I thought that was a great way to introduce it.

WHOSE RESPONSIBLE THIS? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29443715)

I wanna know whose idea was this RIGHT NOW.

Re:WHOSE RESPONSIBLE THIS? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29443937)

I am not responsible this

http://www.toplessrobot.com/2009/09/whose_responsible_this.php [toplessrobot.com]

My credit union charges for paper statements (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29443745)

I use a very large, very old credit union and they started charging existing customers $0.50/statement for paper statements in the last year or two.

For the past several years they've been doing this for existing accounts.

Until the industry comes out with an e-statement that will hold up in court as well as a paper statement, I'll stick to dead tree form thank you very much.

Dutch bank ING planning something similar (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29443801)

Yeah, in my country (Holland, Europe), the bank 'ING' is planning to let people pay for the monthly paper bank statements that list the transactions to/from your account for that month. The given reason is that 'anyone has the easy alternative of easily looking into and print out the transactions online via the web site'. Maybe we should just threaten them with a lawsuit as well.

common sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29443807)

no sudden outbreak tag?

why a fee? (1)

buback (144189) | more than 4 years ago | (#29443827)

They could have just given those who go paperless a $1.50 credit, and then in a years time raise the plan rates by $1.50
Why is it that companies do the stupid thing in an invisible, underhanded way, and the smart things in a way most likely to prompt a customer backlash?

Even better idea (1)

presidenteloco (659168) | more than 4 years ago | (#29443863)

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 taxes,
and decrease income tax to compensate if you feel strongly that
it should be revenue neutral. The Green Party has been advocating
this for 25 years, and we're tired of being so far ahead. Catch up
please. Steal our policy and call it your own!

Bloody stupid (1)

wcrowe (94389) | more than 4 years ago | (#29443901)

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.

Like T-Mobile doesn't already suck enough (1)

KC1P (907742) | more than 4 years ago | (#29443943)

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 second that the $1.50 is anything other than yet another cash grab.

 

It doesn't help that T-Mobile is so awful. I've had them (and their predecessors Voicestream and Omnipoint) for over ten years (only because I refuse to sign a contract, and Sprint PCS and Virgin Mobile had even worse quality), and I can't think of *anywhere* that used to have no coverage but now does. Do they EVER put up new towers? Where I live now, I have to drive into town just to check my voice mail. LOTS of dropped calls everywhere else (including interstates). Anyway an extra $1.50 a month would be enough to remind me that crappy cell phone service is something I don't really need in the first place.

Raise prices a penny and call it a discount (1)

gurps_npc (621217) | more than 4 years ago | (#29444015)

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.

Changes (1)

CopaceticOpus (965603) | more than 4 years ago | (#29444123)

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.

Nextel / Sprint has been charging for a while (1)

slaad (589282) | more than 4 years ago | (#29444193)

Nextel / Sprint has been charging for a paper bill for a while now (a year or two at least). T-Mobile must cater to a different crowd.
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