March 31 2012 by Ellen Roseman
Companies save money by going to electronic billing. Too bad they don’t share the savings with their customers.
Now Bell Canada has made its intentions clear. Internet customers must opt in to electronic billing by June 1 and stop receiving paper bills. Otherwise, they’ll have to pay $2 a month for mailed invoices.
Bell talks about being environmentally friendly and giving more timely access to billing information. But the big driver of this change — cutting corporate costs — is not mentioned.
Is paperless practical for all Canadians? I don’t think so, at least not yet.
Some Bell landline customers, even if they have home computers or smartphones, don’t feel comfortable monitoring their accounts online. It seems unfair to add $24 a year to their costs, especially if they’re older or on fixed incomes.
As for me, I pay more attention to bills I get in the mail. I open up the envelope and read the contents. I make sure to pay on time.
With electronic bills, there are more steps. First, I get an email, telling me to click a link. Then, I put in my user name and password. Then, I lcheck my statement on the screen. Then, I push print if I want a copy (assuming I have enough paper in my printer).
My advice: Ask Bell for concessions. Talk about your loyalty. Threaten to leave if you can’t get what you want. I know some people have already won the right to keep getting paper bills at no cost.
It’s a competitive market and some rival firms haven’t switched to e-billing. If Bell is smart, it will make accommodations to hold onto long-time customers.