iPhone Sends Itemized Bill For Every Single Image You Access

Unfortunately, Apple’s design gurus didn’t get to lovingly sculpt AT&T’s billing system, so when the first iPhone users opened their bills this month, they got a surprise. Actually, pages upon pages of surprises. Every single image gets assessed a fee based on its kilobytes, and is then painstakingly itemized on your AT&T bill.

Hundreds of listings of “Data Transfer” of type “Data” at rate code “MBRF,” along with its kilobytes. Never mind if the customer is on an unlimited data transfer plan. New York Times technology writer David Pogue’s bill was nine pages long. Daring Fireball’s was 45.

The Poguester kills it best with, “This development illustrates yet another clash between Apple’s typical philosophy of elegance and simplicity-and the unprepared, cluelessness of its cellular partner.”

Another good reason for iPhone users, if they haven’t already, to switch to paperless billing.

iPhone+AT&T Bill=Uh-Oh [NYT] (Thanks to Colin!)
Linked List: July 2007 [Daring Fireball]
(Photo: Getty)


Edit Your Comment

  1. B says:

    The best part is, with an unlimited data plan, the fee is zero, but they still list it out on the bill.

  2. yg17 says:

    I swear honey, my friend was using my iPhone when “HotNakedLesbiansMakingOut.jpg” was downloaded!

  3. kaikhor says:

    @yg17: Actually, it doesn’t say that. Every AT&T bill (and Cingular before it) does this. It just says “data transfer” then the number of KB. It’s very annoying, especially if you do have an unlimited plan. My phone bill, which consists of 5 people, can easily run over 100 pages because it does this, plus list every text message in and out and every phone call.

  4. Buran says:

    Good thing I told Cingular/AT&T to not send me paper bills, so if they want to clutter up their system with uselessly large PDF files, fine. I’m not on an iPhone — yet — but I plan to get one when they go 3G in the USA — and I plan to actually use it for internet access.

  5. JustIcedCoffee says:

    three pages is pretty tame.. when I read the headline I thought ten pages… if my bill only increases by three pages, I’d be impressed.

  6. lore says:

    @kaikhor: Good for a PI trying to catch someone’s husband/wife cheating, I guess.

  7. icruise says:

    It doesn’t even tell you the file name — just the size, so it’s useless in every way, especially since we have unlimited data to begin with.

  8. icruise says:

    By the way, Pogue’s bill way 9 pages long — 3 pages for the main bill and 6 for the data.

  9. Black Bellamy says:

    See, I would just run a script so when my iPhone wasn’t busy it would just load tons and tons of graphically heavy pages.

    Just so I could watch the mailman’s spine bend under the weight of the 60lb bill.

    I am a mean fucker. I know.

  10. Ben Popken says:

    @JustIcedCoffee: How about 45?

  11. winnabago says:

    If they didn’t list everything, we’d be complaining that they were hiding information from us. Can’t win.

  12. sleze69 says:

    @Black Bellamy: I agree. If I succumbed to the IPhone hype and heard about this, I would switch immediately back to paper bills.

  13. kaikhor says:

    @lore: Actually, I’ve known husbands/wives who have used this to check on cheating from their spouse, via phone and text. Only problem with the text is that every incoming text and a good handful of outgoing ones list your phone number instead of the other party’s. They do list if it is incoming or outgoing, though.

  14. Toast442 says:

    I usually scan most of my bills in to keep a record of them, but not this one. When I got my first bill a few days ago, I laughed as this huge 20 page monstrosity fell out (along with all the advertising…) Then I got scared that they had screwed up the bill and it was going to $1000 or something.

    Part of that $20 unlimited data plan must pay for the postage for sending out the cardboard box full of useless data every month.

    Hopefully they’ll fix this.

  15. mikecolione says:

    So many people are complaining of long bills because of the itemized detail. What happens when the company says you used an extra 500 messages over the bundle you purchased. How will you know what numbers they were to, or if they are duplicate charges?

    Well we’ll find out next month (8/3/07) when AT&T (wireless) switches most users to the new billing format which doesn’t detail usage.

    I guess the new complaint is that the bills don’t list the details of calls, messaging or data usage.

    See ya in a few weeks…

  16. SexCpotatoes says:

    Hey now, you guys are going to ruin a good thing. All that paper would be a boon to those who switched over or still have wood burning stoves for heat in the winter.

  17. sampson says:

    I like to keep a record of all of my bills so that if there is a discrepancy that I discover later, I can see how far back it goes. I don’t feel like I can really rely on the online records because they have a relatively short lifespan. I would also prefer not to be the one to shoulders the expense for the ink and paper, which I would have to pay in addition to my normal service charges if I print them myself.

    I do recognize the environmental concerns with the additional paper and the fuel necessary to deliver it. Nevertheless, I feel like I’m getting more value for the fees I’m paying, considering I never go over my minutes (or even come close).

    Basically, I see these efforts to persuade people to switch to “on-line” billing as a cost-cutting measure that helps out the company tremendously, while minimally benefiting the consumer.

  18. cac67 says:

    Log on to your account on the att web site and remove data detail billing from your features, or call in to customer service and have a rep remove it for you. It’s optional, it just defaults to on.

  19. JustIcedCoffee says:

    I guess I can’t read well.. I swore I saw three pages. yea 45 is not so hot.

  20. G-Dog says:

    TeeHee. UB funny!

    At least it isn’t goatse.jpg

  21. synergy says:

    This is AT&T we’re talking about here. It’s not like you can trust them to bill you correctly or anything…

  22. snowferret says:

    No DON’T switch to paperless. A couple months of this and AT&T will have to change this ridicules crap.

  23. Oops…

  24. Yourhero88 says:

    I always thought this was quite amusing myself. I’ve had cingular for over a year and Opera Mini on my phone. I would make it a game for myself to see how big of an envelope they had to send me, since i get all of my data for one flat rate anyway. After all, i’m not the one paying for the paper.

  25. Mr. Gunn says:

    ATT has been itemizing every data session(not file) for years, and I know this because I’ve used the full HTML browser my phone has had for years to access the “real” internet and check email.

    /the sun also rises for non-fanboys…

  26. vladthepaler says:

    You’d think that printing & postage costs would suggest ATT stop doing this.