19th Jun 2017
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Independent MP moves to outlaw fees for paper bills
Author: Ben Hocking
Moves to outlaw fees for paper bills

Draft laws that propose banning companies from charging customers for providing paper bills and statements were introduced into parliament on Monday.

Independent MP Andrew Wilkie introduced the private member’s bill to parliament. The bill will also prevent companies from switching customers to electronic billing without the customer’s consent.

When introducing the bill, Mr Wilkie said that some people simply don’t have the internet, or if they do, it might not be reliable enough to ensure they always get a copy of invoices.

“There has been a worrying trend recently of more and more big companies switching their customers to electronic bills without asking the customer first,” Mr Wilkie said. “To add insult to injury, the customers are now being slugged a fee for getting their bills sent in paper. The fee is often more than what it actually costs the company to send the bill out.

“Yes, electronic bills are convenient for many of us, but a lot of Australians don’t want to or can’t use the internet to manage their finances. There are a lot of older Australians who are unfamiliar with the technology, many on low incomes who can’t afford an internet connection at home, and people in rural areas without reliable coverage. A one-size-fits-all approach does not work.

“The push to move services online to the detriment of many members of the community has been raised with me on a number of occasions, and I’m pleased to be able to represent these concerns. I’m also grateful to the Keep Me Posted campaign for approaching me about this and congratulate them for their work on this issue.”

Mr Wilkie explained that any attempt to make customers pay for paper bills would disproportionally affect low-income earners and disadvantaged Australians.

“(The bill) simply says that if a company wants to move to electronic statements then it can only do so with the consent of the customer and if the customer does not consent, then that customer will continue to receive paper bills and not be charged,” he said on Monday.

If the legislation is passed, suppliers that don't comply will face penalties.

Of course, paper bills are not the only charges incurred by those who can’t, or choose not to, manage bills online. As we have featured before, Telstra is just one of many companies that charges customers to pay bills over the counter at retail outlets and AusPost.

Do you support Mr Wilkie’s proposed law changes? Should customers have to pay for receiving a paper bill? Do you regularly manage your bills online? Should customers be charged for paying their bills in person?

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    COMMENTS

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    Dabbydoos
    20th Jun 2017
    9:42am
    I was switched to electronic billing by Telstra and then charged a late fee. It took me months of phone calls and was only remedied when I went to the communications omnibudsman. I think this again is a move which affects the elderly.
    ranga
    20th Jun 2017
    10:53am
    Same here......
    Not Senile Yet!
    20th Jun 2017
    10:06am
    This has neen implemented by CEO's to cut costa and gouge the Customer for PROFIT!
    Yes...it should be illegal to charge a customer for a Paper Bill.....with or without their consent!
    Why?
    Because it is simply a rip-off!
    Most charge $2.
    Imagine if everyone did that?
    $2 added to Tradies bill...
    $2 added to insurance renewal...rego...gas..elec...petrol receipt...tax receipts...accountant bill....Super Statements...Council Rates...
    The List is endless!
    2 Million Customers = 4Million Profit!
    Just straight out ripping the Customer Off!
    To make matters worse...all Companies can and do Claim the Costs as Tax Deductions under expenditure....so it's Double Dipping!
    And neither Labor or LNP give a crap!
    Only an Independant standing up for us?
    Time to Vote the Parties into Oblivion!
    They have become Corrupt...time to put them Last when you Vote!
    Eddy
    20th Jun 2017
    10:54am
    Getting payment for services rendered is a normal business expense, like providing company cars, the executives' expense accounts, plush business premises or tea and coffee for employees etc. There is no justification to charge an fee for collecting what your paying customers owe in the normal course of business. Maybe Mr Wilke could amend his proposal to make it illegal to refuse to accept cash as payment or to charge a fee for cash payments. Some businesses will not accept cash and then charge fees for using debit or credit cards. If businesses want to sub-contract Australia Post etc to collect their revenue then it is a process the a business should pay for, not the paying customer.
    jackie
    20th Jun 2017
    11:04am
    I wish he outlawed online transaction fees too. I hate getting charged from cinemas for paying and booking myself into a movie online. It stinks.
    Aussie
    20th Jun 2017
    1:33pm
    What about the $$$ for ATM fees ????? for every withdraw ??? use to be free ....
    Rosret
    20th Jun 2017
    2:12pm
    I want one of those ATM machines Aussie they make a mint.
    PlanB
    20th Jun 2017
    3:39pm
    ATM should also be FREE
    FrankC
    21st Jun 2017
    3:59pm
    Friends of mine booked movie tickets ( $10 each) at the Redcliffe cultural centre, in Qld. and for using a credit card were then charged a further $8.00. !! That should have reached the ACCC.
    FrankC
    21st Jun 2017
    3:59pm
    Friends of mine booked movie tickets ( $10 each) at the Redcliffe cultural centre, in Qld. and for using a credit card were then charged a further $8.00. !! That should have reached the ACCC.
    bigpella
    22nd Jun 2017
    10:39am
    Jackie, why do you book your tickets online? I don't. I used to, but I got fed up paying the fee for no good reason. We only have Village Cinemas near us and they have a facility that indicates how many seats are available for a session. If the number is over 50 we buy at the door. Under 10 I would be more likely to book if that was the only session available.
    The last time we went to the movies we were the only ones in the theater, the previous time there were about a dozen. With what we saved on booking fees we can now go to another movie for free.
    Gee Whiz
    20th Jun 2017
    11:53am
    I wouldn't out anything past Telstra. They have been voted the worst Telecommunications company in the western world.

    They spend millions on call centers based overseas and have now just sacked 1400 staff to save money.

    And you don't hear a word from our moronic politicians whose sickening mantra is JOBS,JOBS,JOBS.

    Talk about a bunch of low-life hypocrites.
    Jim
    20th Jun 2017
    11:58am
    I am with Optus for my internet/phone service, getting charged 2 different ammounts each month, one is for not having direct debit the other is for my paper bill, the reason I don't like direct debit is if you want to change your supplier it quite often takes more than one attempt to stop a direct debit, I am sure that I an not the only person that this has happened to. I recall quite a few years ago I had a direct debit for an oven I bought, after I had paid the total bill I kept getting a bill stating that I still owed money, I called them several times and they agreed that I had paid the full ammount and they would sort it out, before long I got an order to pay up or a debt collection agency were going to take me to court for recovery, it got sorted eventually but not before I had been put through the wringer. This might not be the experience of many, but it was enough to put me off direct debit.
    KSS
    20th Jun 2017
    1:01pm
    I agree Dim and I only have direct debits from me to me (i.e. automatic transfer of funds from one account to another). I will never agree to direct debits for anyone else. I am in charge of my bank account and I do NOT want companies taking what they deem fit and with no reference to me. So I too get charged $2 a month by Optus as a punishment. I also note that Energy Australia has suddenly and without warning added $2 to my paper electricity bill - like they don't charge enough already!

    I vehemently object to being charged to receive and pay my bills. And I pay my bills either through Bpay or electronic transfer from my account.
    Rae
    20th Jun 2017
    1:23pm
    Yes Dim I have had issues and will never issue a new direct debit.

    I would certainly not have one for an unknown amount such as electricity or telecoms as a mistake once paid out would require a lot of time and expense to sort out.

    Businesses are no longer able to demand our loyalty or trust as they have proved otherwise.

    Charging for a paper bill is bad business practise. Surcharges for card payment also fits that bill as far as I'm concerned.

    I have no respect for companies that do so.
    Priscilla
    20th Jun 2017
    12:10pm
    I am charged by Iprimus for paying at the post office and also a charge for not doing direct debit, even though I receive my bill via the internet and pay by BPAY. This is such a huge rort and puts an extra $5-$6 on my account each month. So sick to death of being screwed by businesses! Another bone of contention is that these businesses operate overseas as do so many more, taking away Australian job!!!!
    KSS
    20th Jun 2017
    1:04pm
    At least you know the companies operating overseas call centres. I object far more to companies you think are in Australia, they have an ABN, they have a Australian address, they have an Australian telephone number, they have an Australian bank account and they issue invoices in Australian dollars. But when you pay their bill you notice on your bank statement you are up for international transaction charges and currency exchange. This is yet another deceptive practice that should be stopped.
    Rosret
    20th Jun 2017
    2:13pm
    ...and what about airline tickets - how does one avoid paying the debit card fee!
    Anonymous
    21st Jun 2017
    12:45am
    KSS I agree very annoying I thought I hired a car recently in Adelaide turned out I was paying in Euros and also found the exchange and fees on my bank statement
    Anonymous
    22nd Jun 2017
    1:44am
    Web hosting company did this to me. They boast ''we are Australian and our support staff is based in Australia and speaks fluent English'', but when I paid with a credit card I discovered a hefty currency conversion and international transaction fee. To the company's credit, when I complained they refunded both additional charges and they gave me instructions to ensure it never happened again.

    You won't win with all companies because some are unconscionable, but it's worth making a complaint.
    HarrysOpinion
    20th Jun 2017
    12:22pm
    Of course there will have to be exceptions for people who can't use and don't have computers but, they will be charged an extra fee for the paper and mail cost.
    mogo51
    20th Jun 2017
    12:44pm
    Big companies are over the top with their bullying tactics to customers. Outlandish charges because you do not want to do what they want you to do. Well bad luck, they should be held to account for such charges.
    Ella
    20th Jun 2017
    1:03pm
    What happens when we no longer have the ability to access the internet. If there is no one to do this for you then what do we do? My husband doesn't use the internet so if something happened to me he would have enormous problems.
    Rae
    20th Jun 2017
    1:29pm
    Companies will have to provide for millions of elderly and less efficient consumers. This is a good move by Mr Wilkie.

    I wish we had more Independents carrying about the little guy and not the party polling records.
    ozrog
    20th Jun 2017
    1:24pm
    Yep i agree paper bills shold be sent free of charge. These companies are saving millions by sending via internet that would easily offset the cost of printing and postage.
    Anonymous
    21st Jun 2017
    12:47am
    They managed to send paper bills for decades without going bankrupt so its just plain greed
    FrankC
    21st Jun 2017
    4:05pm
    Was just thinking the same thing , trod.
    FrankC
    21st Jun 2017
    4:06pm
    Sorry, trood.
    Aussie
    20th Jun 2017
    1:57pm
    We need a Bill of Rights (BOR) ....... ASAP That way all this actions by companies including banks can be consider a infringement of your right of privacy and decisions so nobody will charge you anything else unless you accept the charges ...... Do a search about BOR to find out more and how long we have been trying to have a BOR in Australia and you be surprise how long we been trying .....

    Some searches for you showing the Arguments for and against BOR in Australia .....

    https://www.google.co.th/search?q=bill+of+rights+in+australia+for+and+against&oq=bill+of+rigths+in+Australia&aqs=chrome.2.69i57j0l5.27642j0j4&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

    This site show the history of the BOR in AU ,,,,,,

    http://www.lawfoundation.net.au/ljf/app/9CB5AFA66DE49D82CA2571A9000C12FB.html

    Also consider this statement ..."The Australian political system is in some ways democratic, and in some ways not." refer to this site in Macquarie University .....

    http://www.mq.edu.au/about_us/faculties_and_departments/faculty_of_arts/mhpir/staff/staff-politics_and_international_relations/john_kilcullen/democracy_in_australia/
    Jim
    20th Jun 2017
    6:55pm
    Hi I was part of an Australia wide committee in the 70s our assignment was to see how we could improve our constitution and having a bill of rights was one of our main discussion topics, most agreed that a bill of rights was something that we should adopt in our constitution, the problem we had was the writing of the document and what should be in and what shouldn't be in the document, we were a very diverse group of people from all of the states and territories, I think this may have created what ended up being an insurmountable problem as to what form a bill of rights would take. A major concern for some was a bill of rights also needed a bill of responsibilities attached to it. Perhaps .
    Aussie
    20th Jun 2017
    9:16pm
    Dim
    Yes correct there was a problem but it is something we need to reconsider this days because this new world is very different that back in the 70s and a lot of our rights are constantly abused by authorities and other people with power and we are totally defenseless including within the law and we just have to put up and shut up .....that is not good for anybody we have rights and duties and those should be respected.

    I was very surprise when I arrive in AU in the 60s that we did not have a BOR .....
    Mal
    20th Jun 2017
    2:09pm
    I agree with Dayydoos & Ranga
    Rosret
    20th Jun 2017
    2:09pm
    My bank and Road side assistance both switched me over without asking too. I want my bills in the mail. So annoying....and insecure.
    When poverty strikes the first thing that needs to go is the internet- especially when the electricity will probably switched off for many this winter.
    Public WiFi is a security risk and in most cases you still need your own device.
    Mal
    20th Jun 2017
    2:10pm
    I agree with Dayydoos & Ranga
    Circum
    20th Jun 2017
    2:38pm
    I totally support Andrew Wilkie with this proposal.Apart from businesses using email as a cost reduction exercise by charging the customer an additional amount on top of what has already been built in as a cost of doing business,they assume everyone uses the internet.Same way that others assume everyone has a mobile phone (let alone a smartphone) and that no one uses cash anymore.
    Gee Whiz
    20th Jun 2017
    3:09pm
    Spot on. And this all came about from Federal and State governments privatizing publicly owned assets.

    Power, water, transport, now apply and utilize hundreds of different ways to keep rorting their customers with fees and charges that never existed before.
    And one of the biggest rip-off merchants since being privatized is the Commonwealth Bank.

    Once known as the peoples Bank it now carries the designation of "fraudster".
    Triss
    20th Jun 2017
    3:29pm
    Companies are like uncontrolled brats they, have no ethics, they fleece customers because they are allowed to by limp laws. Time the government clipped their wings and their ears.
    PlanB
    20th Jun 2017
    3:45pm
    Darn right I support Wilkie in his proposed law -- MANY people do NOT have the internet or they might have it and been offline because of this NBN that keeps going down -- sometimes for 5 weeks --so NO internet and NO phone either -- plus you might be away and have asked someone to look after your email on your bills while you are away --- there should be NO charge for paper bills.
    PlanB
    20th Jun 2017
    3:47pm
    Andrew Wilkie has proved over and over again that he has the intestinal fortitude to stand up and be counted.

    20th Jun 2017
    4:23pm
    I'vestuck with paper bills as I do accounts etc and if I pop he will be stuck with on line which he loathes! So not fair to him. Not fair to us to charge extra and so far Telstra and Power Co's not doing it to me. I have auto charge with Telstra may why - try it. Good on Mr Wilkie, he can do good things even though a bit too left influenced for my peace of mind. Same with Greens, always far left but now and then show common sense and surprise us.
    saintagnes
    20th Jun 2017
    6:10pm
    i receive all my bills via paper
    I refuse to pay if any other method is used
    Why should I use my paper and ink to print out a bill
    PlanB
    21st Jun 2017
    6:55am
    If you refuse to PAY then you would be charged interest --

    I am like Val I have to have paper bills as I need them for my accounts

    Wilkie had the balls to stand up to Howard re the war in Iraq

    When people say someone is left wing -- is that not better to be a little more caring than these right wing pack of mongrel that doesn't give a hoot about anything but the high end of town???
    Little red dragon
    20th Jun 2017
    6:15pm
    Should be illegal to charge for a paper bill and also for paying in person at a post office. Just pure greed and it's older Australians who are paying for it.
    Nan Norma
    20th Jun 2017
    8:18pm
    After forgetting to pay a bill a couple of times I started paying direct debit. Have had no problems whatsoever over many years. Best part is I no longer have to worry about forgetting.

    21st Jun 2017
    12:41am
    great idea, As a senior I wrote to the CEO of Bankwest & AGL suggesting that if they buy me a computer, printer and internet provider I would consider ebills (but no guarantee they would be paid on time if the internet was down) or I would be quite happy if they didn't send me a bill at all! Fees were waived and I continue to receive paper bills
    gravy
    21st Jun 2017
    12:57am
    Here is a link to the campaign Mr Wilkie MP makes reference to in his speech about the Paper Statement issue:
    http://www.keepmeposted.org.au/
    FEDUP
    21st Jun 2017
    4:31am
    The same thing should also apply to Insurance Companies. They send you the paperwork to your email address, you have no visible proof if pulled over or have to exchange details if in an accident. Unless you have a printer which you can download the relative details of your policy.
    Surely we are recycling enough paper products to enable companies to send bills and or policies.
    Anonymous
    22nd Jun 2017
    1:46am
    That's true, Dedup, but most will send you a paper copy in the mail if you ask for it.
    john
    21st Jun 2017
    11:48am
    The greatest tragedy for honesty and for freedom of looking after your own finances and bill paying , was when the pay packet became a digital number sent through to your bank account and raided by your bank and its charges and any other thing they can pull out of your wallet before money even gets into your hands. Like you or me stealing 1 cent out of every bank account in the world, we would be very wealthy, that is what banks do to every one every day!
    The computer age has allowed robbery to become legal. It has allowed banks to steal from you when you use another banks ATM. And that must happen hundreds of thousand of times a day. But cash is not needed that much so now the companies and the banks charge you that little gouge for computer bills, or for using your credit card, well there is another too, Myer now will charge you somewhere around $12 dollars to set up a layby, can you believe that, you can't buy it outright so you layby it , and they charge you for not buying it then, when they sell it anyway. Disgusting.
    Any wonder the world has a small amount of fabulously wealthy people and the rest of us just fabulously angry people!
    KB
    21st Jun 2017
    2:19pm
    Thank you Andrew Wiilkie. He has raised many valid points You cannot always rely on the computer . How about late fees? They should be abolished as many people are struggling to the hilt to pay bills Companies are ripping customers off.Nor should you pay for any extra charges in person
    ImOKJack
    21st Jun 2017
    3:06pm
    This is just as bad as my internet service provider charging me a fee for NOT using direct debit. I pay by BPay or debit card which also include a fee but am happy to wear that but to be charged for NOT using an available payment service is, in my book, being penalised.
    ex PS
    22nd Jun 2017
    9:42am
    If I don't receive a bill or invoice, I should not have to pay the company that is owed money. If they are charging for a service it is up to them to provide an invoice, it is not up to me to ensure they send one.
    It is up to them to figure out how to invoice people who choose not to use the email network.
    It is definitely not their right to charge people extra because they don't fit in with their business model.
    Karl
    23rd Jun 2017
    8:29am
    Yes. Looking after customers and giving them what they reasonably want used to be called 'service' Karl


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