My First Bill

Recently, I changed my cell provider. So far, I have been mightily pleased. Yesterday I received my first bill from the new company. All I can say is wow! I have encountered something that the new company does a whole lot worse than the old company. My bill is 9 pages long! Other than the ridiculous number of pages, I have a lot of thoughts about this bill and how it is formatted.

Page 1: Your Statement
I do appreciate there is a Summary on the first page providing me a summary of the information contained within the following 8 pages and has the requisite information about the due date and where to make the payment. Clearly this is my statement. My name shows up in 3 different places. I am actually pleased that all of the information repeated about me on this page is accurate. How awful would that be if one of them was wrong? Whose responsibility would it be to ensure it was accurate? The payer or the payee?   Fortunately, I do not have to ponder this possibility. Kudos for accuracy!
What I really care about is the Summary. It is rather easy to locate, it is right under the “Important Information”. Why does this little box appear above the Summary? This is supposed to be what is important to me. To me, the important information is the Summary. Don’t try mis-lead me into reading what you think is important. I know you think this is important information, you labeled it “Important Information” and it has its own little box above the Summary.
It is nice that their important information includes a thank you for becoming a customer, but in the grander scheme of things that I need to know on my new bill, it isn’t important. The rest of the important information is all about them. They want me to buy more stuff and simplify their responsibilities. They provide me the opportunity to go online and review everything I ever wanted to know about my relationship with them, or they imply that in the wording. Quite frankly, at this point in our relationship none of this screams important enough to be in its own box above the information I find important.  Because I paid attention when we completed this transaction I already know all of this information. Early on in our relationship I already completed the tasks that are mentioned in this little blurb of what they deem important enough information to push it to me before telling me what I want to know:

How much did I spend?

  • Gross cost.
  • Gross discounts.
  • Net payment due.

That is the important information to me, the brand new customer.

The bottom third of the document is the requisite stub to be returned with the payment due. Good, old-fashioned classic bill payment methods, as expected. What confused me was the garbage in the middle. I don’t understand exactly why this has to be in the center of the first bill I ever receive from my new provider. My guess is it’s the they are either legally required to provide or there could be a good-hearted bill processor somewhere in the world who thinks this is the only way the consumer will ever know about the current class action proceedings going on against the telecommunications providers regarding their historical per-message billing practices texts sent since 2005. My guess? This is required as part of the antitrust legislation. It is good that the consumer knows his/her rights, but I really don’t need this messaging on the front page of my first bill. Have you ever participated in any of these antitrust class action suits and received anything that was really worth the effort? Not me. I think the best I ever did was $50 and it really wasn’t worth the headache to produce the paperwork and do the homework.

PAGE 2: No Real Label
Basically this is the back page of page 1. There is all of the fine print about the things that you will be reading in the next pages of this bill. All the legal disclaimers that should be read if you are running really close to the budget and need to ensure you won’t be paying any unexpected fees. The importance of this page is different for every individual and is entirely contextual. There have been times in my life where I have scoured every letter on these pages of terms & conditions so that I could figure out everything on the bill. Today, I am blessed and am not in the position of having to figure out how to scrape up the cash to make ends meet for the things that I consider necessities. For that I am eternally grateful, so this page doesn’t carry as much weight as it did in my past, but I give it a quick read.
I was distracted by the printing itself. The weight of the paper was cheap. Okay. This is not a problem, merely an observation. Coming from the old school offices of the past where which paper you used depended upon the purpose, this is something I have been trained to observe my entire life. I just happened to notice this is more like the cheap copy paper I can buy at Costco or Staples. Funny I really hadn’t noticed that when I was looking at page 1.
Page 2 is definitely smaller print. To me, it looks offset. I understand this is because they put their logo vertically down the left side of every page, but the use of a box around the table of the fine print, really makes it look sloppy, to me. Possibly if this were on a more quality paper to have it appear to be letterhead the logo wouldn’t seem so out of place. I don’t know. I don’t really have an eye for the artistic part of bill creation, I am only interested in the content.
Maybe I don’t give myself enough credit. I do notice that the fonts are not the same size. Many of the things I am interested in reading are in really tiny font, while most of the exceptions and disclaimers are in a larger font, sometimes even bolded. Good for you folks in Puerto Rico and NM – you get larger fonts!

…to be continued…

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