Is it right to charge people to receive paper copies of bills?
Consumer group Keep Me Posted says it’s simply not right that consumers, who choose not to (or can’t) receive bills digitally, should have to pay to receive a paper copy of a bill in the mail. Do you agree?
Keep Me Posted, which according to its Executive Director Kellie Northwood, is not an anti-digital but rather a pro-consumer campaign that firmly believes consumers should have a choice and should not be charged to receive paper bills. 3AW host Tom Elliot, who had Ms Northwood as a guest, disagrees. Citing the ease of accessing the internet, the proliferation of smartphones in Australia and the ease of reading bills online, Elliot said that there is no need to send paper bills, but if people wished to have them, they should pay to cover the costs incurred by that company.
With charges placed on bills varying greatly, some as much as $3.50, is this a fair cost to the consumer?
Definitely not, argues Ms Northwood, who makes the point that not everyone has internet in their homes or can access bills online. According to data held by Keep Me Posted, it’s the most vulnerable that are being disadvantaged, with 57 per cent of Australians who have a household income of less than $40,0000 not having internet at home. Also, 46 per cent of Australians over 65 don’t have household access to the internet.
Ms Northwood claims that the Government should legislate for a digital transition, allowing those who cannot access the internet at home to not have to pay the charge.
Of course, paper bills aren’t the only charges incurred by those who can’t, or choose not to, manage bills online. As we featured recently, Telstra is just one of many companies that charges customers to pay bills over the counter at retail outlets and AusPost.
Can these charges be defended? Is it reasonable to expect them to be covered under a service charge? Do you regularly manage your bills online?
You can listen to the podcast of the interview at 3AW.com.au