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Pay-to-pay: Canadians pay more than $500M in fees a year for paper bills, statements

Pay-to-pay: Canadians pay more than $500M in fees a year for paper bills, statements

A new report shows that Canadians are likely to more than half a billion dollars a year to receive their bills and bank statements on paper rather than being forced to login online. The report was released by the Public Interest Advocacy Centre who polled over 2000 Canadians on this topic.

In countries like Canada and the United States, consumer have to retrieve their e-bill online, in order to pay it. In most European countries when consumers are forced to retrieve their bill online, the payment has mostly already been processed (as part of a direct debit or standing e-invoice order process).

Here are some major findings:

  • About 75% of the respondents objected to being charged fees for paper copies of their bills and balances.
  • About 43 per cent said they could recall being notified by at least one company that they would have to pay to continue receiving bills or bank balances by mail, and just over half of those survey respondents said they accepted the charge.
  • Some 33% said they were uncomfortable with making the switch to e-billing or online banking.

PIAC estimated the total is “conservatively” between $495 million and $734 million, plus taxes. Some $102 million in fees are being paid by low-income Canadians and seniors who don’t have Internet access at home or don’t use computers!

PIAC executive director John Lawford:

  • “We tried to be on the conservative side of estimating both the amount being paid — like the number of accounts the average person might have — and the number of people who either don’t have access to the Internet or have access to the Internet but prefer to get a paper bill,”
  • “We’d love for companies to reveal exactly how much they collect for paper bills. They don’t want to release it because it’s supposedly competitively sensitive, which I don’t really think it is … and then secondly I think it’s embarrassing.”

Banning the practice for paper bills [update 29-8-2014]

PIAC, which began working on its research more than a year ago, was pleased when the federal government pledged to ban the practice of charging for paper bills, first in its throne speech last October and then again this February in releasing its budget.

Executives from nearly a dozen companies, including giants Bell, Rogers and Telus, met behind closed doors at the invitation of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission. The CRTC had urged participants prior to the meeting to make firm decisions about the fees they charge, with an eye toward eliminating them altogether.

What the regulator got was a commitment from telecom company executives to exempt seniors, people with disabilities, military veterans and people with no Internet connections from paying the fees.Companies that currently charge for paper bills agreed to adopt the exemptions — if they haven’t already — effective January 1, 2015.

The CRTC’s vice-chairs of broadcasting and telecommunications issued a statement after the all-day meeting, saying they had hoped for more.

 

Perhaps they could learn from the Irish ComReg that stated that forcing up e-billing is a change of contract and a breach of statutory regulations. Or from the recent new Spanish law that FORBIDS forced B2C e-billing.

 

 


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