Turning Paper Delivery Back On

This week I turned paper delivery back on for T-Mobile and all my credit card statements. I didn’t do this to save the US Postal Service from extinction. I did it because these businesses’ statement ePickup services weren’t delivering an adequate level of service. I call their electronic statement services ePickup because instead of delivering the statements they send you an email notice telling you to go pick up your own statement. Read more about ePickup in my previous post.

In the case of T-Mobile I’ve turned on paper delivery for two reasons:

  • I got caught out when I migrated my service from T-Mobile to T-Mobile last year and changed the primary account holder’s name. Statements for previous months were no longer available on their site and I was not able to verify excess charges.
  • T-Mobile’s web site is painfully slow.

Unlike T-Mobile, all my credit card providers have fast, convenient web sites. But because of the inconvenience of ePickup, I don’t end up retrieving my statements in a timely manner. The time that consumers are given to dispute a charge is now down to two months. To allow me enough time to review charges and go through the potential process of disputing charges with merchants and then the credit card issuer I’ve opted back into paper delivery.

Despite now receiving these statements as paper, I still periodically retrieve electronic copies and file these away on my computer for archive purposes. I also eventually shred the paper copies to reduce the risk of identity theft (almost 65% of identity theft cases start with stolen paper statements, bills and checks).


2012/08/15 T-Mobile updated their site and you can now download your statements as PDF files. The problem is these PDF files are not standard PDF files. They are XFA (XML-based form) PDF files. These files contain document-building logic and XML data that generate the actual pages on-the-fly when you open them. They take 30 seconds to open, prompt you to ask if you want to save changes each time you close the document, and are not renderable in the myriad of PDF readers that are not built for the desktop by Adobe. This includes Preview on the Mac.

XFA is horrible technology produced by Adobe at a low point in it’s sanity (at around the same time they chose to buy Macromedia and Flash, by the way). It’s surprising that any company would evaluate this technology and choose to proceed with it’s deployment. T-Mobile did just that and has also stopped making it’s statements available as HTML. This means there is no way to get a proper PDF file from their site. All the more reason to keep getting paper.

2013/01 T-Mobile has fixed their PDF generation issue and they now provide very nice PDF statements.

2013/07 Sometime in the past few months T-Mobile has broken their web site so you can no longer download PDF files. The link is there to allow you to do so, but it doesn’t work. And their site is still slow. Meanwhile my paper statements continue to arrive.