AT&T introduces personalized 'video bills'

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Figuring out the charges on a cell phone bill requires a special type of patience. From third-party charges to data overages, the monthly statement can look like Greek to even the tech-savvy.

AT&T decided to help customers understand their wireless bills by introducing video billing that aims to better explain what charges are for. The three-minute video bills are e-mailed to you and provide personalized, line-by-line rundown of charges. (see video example below)

The carrier is currently testing the new service for subscribers in the Mountain Time Zone, with plans to roll out video billing nationwide by early next year, AT&T says. New customers or existing subscribers who make changes to their wireless plans will be the first to receive the video bills.

Wireless bills have long drawn ire from customers who complain that one-time charges are vague and third parties often cram recurring charges onto bills that are difficult to cancel (or even determine what they’re for). The Federal Trade Commission in July told the Federal Communications Commission that wireless carriers should allow customers to block third-party charges from their bills.

AT&T is already using video billing for its U-verse customers, and in a statement said the feedback has been positive. According to the company, more than 85 percent of customers said they found the video bill helpful. AT&T also said billing-related calls have dropped because the videos provide more explanation than print bills usually do.

Video billing technology was brought to AT&T by the tech company SundaySky, which worked with AT&T's research and development division called the AT&T Foundry to deploy the technology in U-verse billing.

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