Do (Danish) Telcos Cheat with their Bills?

Are the bills that I get from my telco correct? I wouldn’t know, I can’t check them.

Both Orange and TDC (the former monopoly) charges about $2.5 per bill to get them to print every call. If you don’t want to pay that, you’ll just get a summary bill saying “so many calls at so many minutes of this type at this minute charge”. What if they’ve counted them wrong?

Indeed, there’s good reason to believe that their counting is indeed wrong. There have been several stories in the press about how their internal accounting systems really are messed up, and that they do make mistakes. But I have to pay extra for the ability to check up on them. Imagine my bank refusing to give me anything other than a summary statement: “Activity last month: Your balance went down by $2,382.” Hey! Wait a minute! Tell me where my money went! “Sorry, you’ll have to pay extra for that.”

Two things further upset me about this: First, I hate invisible payment systems in the first place. You know, when you don’t know exactly what you’re doing to incur what costs. Makes it hard to be in control of your bill. Of course, telcos know this and count on it to make you numb, to make you stop worrying about your bill and instead just shove money down their coffers.

Second, it’s not like the direct cost of printing all the transactions on my bill are even noticable. All the information is already in their big honking database. Spitting it out on paper or on the web costs them little more than the extra cost of the paper, and perhaps a few days worth of programming. The reason they charge anything more than a cent or two for this service, is to dissuade you from trying to check your bill.

Their indirect cost, for which they’re charging, is that people who get the full specification actually check their bills, and thus start contesting the things that are wrong, and that’s of course costly. But preventing people from checking isn’t quite the right fix.

Oh, and US telcos always give you the full spec, except for local calls which are free or almost-free anyway. I wonder if there’s a law, or there’s a competition that gives customers what they want?


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