Calls for companies to scrap unfair paper billing fees

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There are calls for paper bill fees to be scrapped. Source: Shutterstock

No one likes getting a bill in the mail, but when you have to pay an extra fee just to receive the letter, the feeling is even worse.

Consumer Action Law Centre is calling for paper bill fees to be scrapped and for companies to absorbed the costs of mailing letters to customers as a part of doing business, The Herald Sun reports.

Consumer Action chief Gerard Brody told the Herald that “consumers should be able to manage their finances in a way that best suits their needs” without being pushed into “inconvenient” options just so the company can make a few extra bucks.

Many companies have turned towards online billing in recent years in a bid to save on administration and reduce their environmental impact. However, Brody says these saving aren’t being passed onto consumers, who are instead being charged extra for choosing a paper option.

The issue was also raised on Sunrise on Friday, with host David Koch saying the policy was unfair in particular to older Aussies, some of whom don’t have home internet and are therefore forced down the paper bill rout.

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Koch raised the topic with a guest panel who suggested there should be an age cut off where people over the age of 70 don’t need to pay the extra fees.

Last December, the Treasury undertook a consultation to explore the opportunity to amend the legislation around billing fees and enhance consumer protection.

Just half of Australians aged 65 or over use the internet — in stark contrast to the 96 per cent of those aged over 34 who regularly use the internet for social, health and financial purposes.

While the majority of Australian households are connected to the internet now, many Aussies still prefer the ‘old school’ method of paying paper bills at the post office and filing hard copies at home. It’s one of the last vestiges of the older generation as the world moves towards an increased online presence.

Herald Sun readers supported the call to scrap paper billing fees, saying they wished companies would stop pushing customers to go online when they didn’t want to.

“How about not charging any paper bill fees but offering a discount to those that receive bills electronically? Imagine the goodwill the first company to do this will receive! This might persuade more of their customers to choose electronic bill delivery in future,” one reader commented.

Do you still get paper bills? Or have you gone electronic? Should the fees be scrapped?

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