Under the cloud of a class-action lawsuit and battered by a barrage of negative publicity -- not the least of which occurred on my blog -- T-Mobile has decided that its threat to gouge customers an additional $1.50 per month to continue getting a paper bill wasn't worth the pixels it was written on.
The extra fee was announced during the summer and was to have kicked in Sept. 12. Here's how T-Mobile explained the about-face on a customer message board: "T-Mobile is committed to encouraging customers to make the move to paperless billing. It's a great alternative to paper and better for the environment.
"Since the announcement we've heard everything from kudos to concerns about the move to paperless -- especially from our customers who today are receiving paper bills at no charge. So, we've decided to not charge our customers a paper bill fee for now. Instead, we'll be taking more time to determine the fairest way possible to encourage people to go paperless."
T-Mobile had some time ago scaled back to sending customers only a summarized written bill and instituted a $2 monthly fee for those wishing to receive a more detailed accounting. The latter fee will apparently remain in place.
Reaction to the decision forgo the additional $1.50 charge was mixed, with some praising the company for "listening to its customers" and others being less willing to forgive or forget.
Wrote one: "Did we win? Did we, the little people, actually win? Huzzah!"
Yes, that's always surprising, but what truly gobsmacked me during the debate over T-Mobile's fee grab was that there was any debate at all: Plenty of voices were raised in support of the carrier's plan and most of those voices were swallowing whole the nonsense that this had more to do with saving the planet than padding T-Mobile's bottom line.
It's always been about the money; nothing more, nothing less.
As for the company's ominous pledge to "take more time to determine the fairest way possible to encourage people to go paperless," one customer on that message board did a fine job of pointing them in the right direction: "Offer a discount, as others have suggested. T-mobile is saving money on paperless billing, so share the wealth a bit."
Sounds fair. Seems unlikely.
A bit off topic
This one doesn't have much to do with technology aside from pointing out once again that there are precious few questions that can't be answered using the Internet.
Mine last week was: How long does The World's Oldest Person (TWOP) have left, on average, after being so designated? It was prompted by news that 115-year-old Gertrude Baines had passed away in Los Angeles, thereby passing on to 114-year-old Kama Chinen of Japan the title of TWOP.
Baines had topped the list only since January.
Search engines, of course, were invented to answer questions of this sort and diminish the frequency of bar fights.
Google "World's Oldest Person," land on Wikipedia -- which despite its flaws and quirks remains indisputably indispensible -- and you will in mere seconds find everything you ever wanted to know about TWOPs.
Except, just my luck, for how long they typically live after ascending to the top of the list; for that I had to do some light math.
Answer: one year and four months, give or take a day or two.
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This story, "T-Mobile Folds Plan to Charge for Paper Bill" was originally published by Network World.