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The curious case of how bad AT&T sucks Episode 2: Just the Internet - every last bit of it

David Chartier

First AT&T botches what is probably the most significant activation event in mobile phone history, and now they're including the complete data records - and I mean complete - in the first iPhone-related bills they're sending out to customers. Both David Pogue and John Gruber are reporting that their first post-iPhone bill from AT&T includes multiple pages (6 for Pogue, a whopping 45 for Gruber) of every chunk of data they downloaded for the account period. Now this isn't a rational listing like ",,," no no - every graphic downloaded from every page and the time and data of every message sent and received laid out in tree-obliterating detail that could only appeal to a rabid accountant.

Considering that every iPhone data plan includes the term "unlimited," no one can really figure out why AT&T went to all the bizarre trouble of listing all this information out. Is it some sort of vague warning for how much we might have to pay should they decide to threaten us with billing by kilobyte or megabyte? Did some AT&T billing engineer think that, since we're downloading 'just the internet,' we'd like to see detailed records of every bit and piece of what we're downloading? Or does some accounting intern simply have a grudge against a tree farm somewhere?

Whatever the case, this latest AT&T blunder reminds me why Apple likes to keep things locked down and under control. No one's going to want to read this stuff, but at the very least: if they just had to make it available, they should have included an announcement with paper bills that this detailed data usage could be accessed online. After all, the vast majority of iPhone customers probably have at least heard of the internets, so they would arguably have little to no problem accessing this useless bundle of info via AT&T's online account access.

Ugh - you just can't find good help these days.

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