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Telephones committing suicide

An unwary telephone customer receives an itemized cellphone bill in the mail listing every website his wacko phone downloaded.

By late March I was noticing a disturbing trend on my phone. As it sat on my desk during the day it would go into a curious state, displaying odd screens and eventually crashing. I occasionally would watch it through these seizures, perplexed as I witnessed a handheld device commit suicide and strangely reboot in front of my eyes. At first a mild entertainment, it eventually became a nuisance as I tried to use it as, gasp!, a phone.

By the end of March I had had enough. I returned the phone, paid my $175 cancellation fee and moved on to a Blackberry. Enough is enough, I thought. But no, that would be too simple!

Two weeks later a large (8.5 x 11 by 2″ thick) envelope was delivered, from Helio. “Oh”, I thought, “some marketing material. Perhaps a cool book!”. But alas, while it was “a book”, it wasn’t cool. It was my bill!! Yes, my bill for the month was 492 pages (double sided, 9 point font) long!! The amount I owed (remember, I had the “all you can eat data plan”) was $8! The postage to send me the ream of paper was $9!!

What was in the book? Line by line analysis of an RSS reader gone bad – every 30 seconds it downloaded 2k of useless information (which, by the way, is what led to the demise of PointCast – see note above). Besides killing trees, this stupid thing is killing the Sprint network!! Talk about the potential of a success disaster!!

Why does this happen? Is Helio really this broken? No, sadly, they have no choice. Current regulations require these charges to be broken out to you the consumer in this manner. What if you want to save a tree? You can get it online, but from what I can discern it is still difficult for the carrier to use this as an excuse to end the paper since there is some oddball need for them to prove that you have the ability to see the bill online which ends up in some circular discussion of the fact that you don’t need the paper.

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