As with my petty hotel complaints, here’s another example of a company doing “too much” (the waste of overprocessing). This time it’s AT&T (I’m sorry, they like to be the friendlier new at&t). And it’s not my complaint, it was in the news.
I have an at&t cell phone (not an iPhone) and my bill details every tiny example of data usage and messaging (photo at left, click for bigger image). I don’t text message, but I use the phone’s internet to check my Yahoo Mail via its browser, so every data exchange detail is listed on the bill. Maybe unnecessary, since it’s flat fee pricing and I don’t care to reconcile all of that (ex: “I didn’t use those 35 kb of data transfer last Tuesday!”).
That phone’s bill, if you were to print it, is 11 pages. I set my account up for “e-Billing” so I don’t get the bill in the mail (although I do have to print the WHOLE thing for corporate expense purposes, which is a different type of waste and a different topic – submitting paper receipts seems so 20th century). Maybe it’s cheaper to let at&t print the bill (on their huge printers compared to my inkjet), but then there’s the waste of shipping that paper (and please, nobody bring up “carbon offsets”). Ideally, my work expense report processing people could view my phone bill electronically (or just trust that I’m submitting the right amount).
Anyway, back to the USA Today story. With the new Apple iPhone, it’s a data intensive device (“the internet, on your phone” as the ads say). The at&t billing department decided, with iPhone:
- We must detail all of the data usage detail
- We must, by default, send a paper bill to the customers
I guess they didn’t “decide,” they just kept their old practices in place. You have to “opt in” to e-billing. I guess many customers didn’t realize this, and one customer made a YouTube video about her 300 page bill. A bill that was shipped IN A BOX! You can watch that video if you want, below.
This reminded me of our discussion about overprocessing and hotel housekeeping. This article states the same point I had made, that sometimes saving costs and keeping your customer happy are aligned, rather than being a tradeoff:
Rob Enderle, an independent analyst at the Enderle Group, calls the finely detailed bills “stupid.”
“Not only does it cost AT&T more to do this, it just upsets customers. It’s bad business,” he says.
It’s too bad that e-Billing can’t be a default, considering you could view the bill on your iPhone!
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