Bell wants to charge $2 for paper bills

Companies save money by going to electronic billing. Too bad they don’t share the savings with their customers.

Telus switched to paperless billing in 2010, creating a big debate at my blog and at Moneyville. Royal Bank also went paperless, which I wrote about here.

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.

Author: Ellen Roseman

Consumer advocate and personal finance author and instructor.

60 thoughts on “Bell wants to charge $2 for paper bills”

  1. Hello Ellen, I admire the work you do and read your columns regularly. I just received this new and unexpected message from Bell.

    I’m soon to be 69 years old. I have never purchased anything through my computer nor do I ever wish to do so.

    Sometimes my computer doesn’t work and it takes time to have someone come and help me out.

    I am very uncomfortable with the demand to sign on to this new procedure OR face a billing charge for paper payments in the amount of $2.00 every month!

    I’ve been ‘with’ Bell for as long as I can remember and I have paid every bill promptly at the bank. I never owe a balance.

    I am so distressed that Bell dismisses my loyalty and now is ready to take more of my fixed income if I can’t do what they say.


    Date: Fri, 30 Mar 2012 23:43:18 +0000
    Subject: Important notification regarding your Bell bill

    Update about your paper bill.

    As part of our ongoing effort to be environmentally friendly and to improve the level of billing information you have access to, we are pleased to let you know that as of June 2012, Bell is moving to e-bill as our standard method of delivering invoices to our Bell Internet clients.

    With e-bill, you can enjoy benefits like:

    • Reducing paper bill clutter – and your environmental footprint

    • Accessing your bills and account information online anytime, 24/7

    • Viewing your current bills as soon as they are ready – we’ll even notify you every month

    • Receiving more billing detail as systems are upgraded

    If you prefer, we are pleased to provide you the option of continuing to receive a paper bill. However, please note that starting with your June invoice, you will be charged a $2 monthly fee for paper bills.

    To make the switch to e-bill, simply log in to MyBell, and ensure that only the box that says “I want to receive an e-bill” is selected.

    If we don’t hear from you by June 1, 2012, we will continue to deliver your paper bill and the $2 fee will apply.

    Haven’t registered for MyBell yet? Simply follow these steps:
    • Register at
    • Go to the top of the page and click on My Profile
    • Click on Link a bill to MyBell

  2. Subject: RE: Important notification regarding your Bell bill
    Date: Fri, 30 Mar 2012 22:51:52 -0400

    Dear Sir,

    I am shocked to you want to charge $2 for paper bill. I am old customer. I have been receiving paper bill up to now so I would like to receice paper bill in future.

    But I am not going to pay two dollars extra for paper bill. It is your legal responsibility to send me the bill by mail. If I did not receive my bill, how do you expect the payment?

    To generate the bill, envelope and mailing, it must be costing Bell more than $5. Instead of giving credit for not receiving paper bill, you are charging two dollars extra.

    If you would give me a $5 per month credit for not receiving paper bill, then I can consider it. Otherwise please continue as usual sending me the paper bill.


  3. After I have been a Bell customer for 48 years, I am simply unwilling to pay the monthly surcharge to find out what I owe.

    I am also not prepared to authorize Bell to have free access to my bank account because of their over-billing history.

    Consequently, I am now looking for a service provider who is still willing to issue a monthly statement without extra charge.

    It seems that technological progress is only profitable for untouchable or domineering corporations, but never in favour of consumers.

    Grocery chains have already tried to introduce self-serving checkout counters to improve their profit margin. The next step might be to charge extra when a customer prefers to have his/her purchase rung up by a cashier.

  4. II received an email from Bell saying that as of June 1, they are charging $2 per month for paper statements.

    I told them I don’t pay my bills online and I’m a long term Bell customer for all of our business. They agreed to discontinue the $2.00 fee. Nice of them.

    I then asked the nice online chat person what would happen to someone like my mother, who doesn’t have a computer, and who wouldn’t even know about something like this. They said that \unfortunately, yes, they will be charged an extra $2 per month as of June for a paper statement\.

    So, for anyone who has NO OPTION online, they are charging $24 per year for the privilege of paying them! This is almost as bad as Direct Energy (and thanks for your great work there!).

    This is absolutely outrageous. They are obviously hoping that the many many millions of customers who continue to pay their bills either via the mail or at the bank will not notice this.

    When will Bell ever get it when it comes to customer service?

  5. I am just about ready to tell Bell to take a long walk off a short pier!

    Why? Here’s two reasons, both of which rankle because of the outright lack of choice in one instance and negative option in the second.

    1. My internet plan originally had a 2G limit on it. I’ve had that plan for at least 10 years. As of February this year, I started getting email ‘reminders’ that I was close to my limit, but for $5 more a month, I could raise my limit to 40G!

    I ignored the first notice, with no apparent negative effect on my service. Then in March, I got a second notice.

    I called Bell internet to ask why I couldn’t upgrade to, say, 20G. Why was 40G my only choice?

    Of course, the CSR didn’t have an answer for me, which I understand because the front-line CSR’s don’t make policy, they just get the flak from people like me, which, I’m sure, they’re not paid well to tolerate.

    As my usage has gone up due to some project work, I ‘decided’ to pay the extra $5 for 40G limit.

    2. Here’s where the negative option thing comes in. I just got another email from Bell informing me that as they’re trying to be ‘environmentally sensitive’, and trying to ‘improve the level of billing access to which I could have access, as of June 2012, they’re moving to ebills as their standard method of billing.

    Of course, if I wish, I can continue to receive a paper bill, for an additional $2/month!

    Call me a Luddite if you wish, but I have no wish to receive an ebill or to pay online for any service. I simply don’t trust internet security to protect my banking information.

    And, I don’t appreciate being forced into accepting a billing method I did not ask for and don’t want. Calling Bell internet service was of no use.

    Correct me if I’m wrong but negative billing options are illegal. Rogers got their knuckles rapped for doing that a few years ago.

    I’d be curious to know how many other Bell internet customers find this ‘offer’ as objectionable as I do. I’d also be interested to see Bell’s response after a telephone call from you.

    Thanks for your help with this one, and for your work on behalf of Bell customers everywhere.

  6. I just received an email from Bell telling me if I want a paper bill, I must pay them a $2 fee every time!!

    Here we go again – another giant company bullying me into doing what they want.

    I like paper bills. Call me old fashioned.

    I rang them and was told, “yes, m’am, that’s correct – you will have to pay a fee…” etc.

    They tell me it’s in the name of what’s good for the planet etc. How come I don’t believe them? It’s a money grab.

    A small amount, it seems, but many small people paying small amounts adds up to big bucks.

    While I’m all for the good of the planet, I can still see through their game.

    Angry? You bet!

    You must have had other complaints about this – have you?

  7. Hi Ellen, I spent 42 years of my life working for Bell when there were 52,000 of us. I am now a pensioner.

    I can tell you when I received this email as a customer of Bell, I was at at first flabbergasted and then disgusted.

    I realized that if I wanted to see a paper copy where I could truly analyze the content and look for errors that I frequently find, it would cost me an extra 24 dollars a year.

    At my age, neither my eyes nor my brain are well trained to peruse documents of any kind online (for example I still purchase a paper copy of the Star daily as opposed to reading it online as many of my younger friends do ). We are an aging population.

    I find it reprehensible that Bell is taking this step, if other corporations have done it, I am unaware.

    Mind you, driven by revenues as opposed to Customer Care, they have a huge opportunity to make a lot of money with this endeavour.

    When I retired in 1997, Bell was issuing 7 Million accounts per month (I had 10 years of my career in Billing). If you extrapolate even a small percentage who will prefer paper as opposed to online, the potential for cash flow is huge.

    As a customer, I followed the protocol outlined in the phone book. I sent an email protest to Bell Executive Office to explain that as a Bell pensioner and stockholder, I was alarmed that this was a step that would force many more customers into the arms of the competition.

    I immediately received an acknowledgement. I was impressed until I found out it was an automated one. It gave me a site to visit with their new updated process for escalating complaints.

    When I tried to enter the site, I received “Website Cannot be Found “. I guess that will reduce their workload… perhaps no-one will ever see my complaint.

  8. This has absolutely nothing to do with ‘saving the planet’ and everything to do with cutting costs. It’s only a matter of time before every large corporation follows this path.

    Why not keep things the way they are and instead offer a discount for people who switch? Oh right because this is not about saving the planet…

  9. Ellen:

    Obviously a call centre contact and a referral to a site which is not accessible won’t get our message across.

    Is Kevin Crull still the appropriate person to contact at Bell regarding residential service complaints?

    Thanks for all your help Ellen!

  10. I left Bell 6 months ago after 18 yrs. I don’t miss them or their prices. I am now paying $14.99 per month for the same service I paid $55 per month from Bell. In fact my next move is to switch to a Net Talk or Magic Jack where i’ll pay $29 to $39 per year and have free North American long distance. Bye Bye Bell.

  11. Surprised that this has not come up before as Rogers (& TD Bank) initiated this same charge earlier this year. In the case of Rogers, I do not even recall a separate notice. I believe they slipped a three line msg at the end of one of the billing pages. Between the banks and telcos–two industries that continually report profits every quarter–the degree to which they cleverly create a new charge is amazing. People lack energy and time to fight them all the time and the number who are in this category is greater than those who complain. The cost of providing the exceptions still makes it worthwhile for them until they ‘ride out the storm’. This is part of their strategy which is simply greed considering they are all profitable. Sad.

  12. Thanks for this article, Ellen. I feel the same way.
    One more issue was not mentioned, and this is the necessity to print bills for people owning small businesses. If you are a sole proprietor running your business from home, you are likely writing off some of your home expenses on “business use of home.” Guess what? You end up printing all your energy, utilities and telecommunications bills.

    Companies did not think of your printing costs when they went paperless, otherwise they would have simplified the looks of their bills. Bills contain pictures, ads, large areas filled with color. So now you need to pay from your own pocket for company’s advertisement and branding.

    When companies go paperless, they should make bills look simple to consume minimum toner.

  13. I’m as disgusted by Bell’s customer services and practices as are the previous posters.

    Signing up for paperless billing, though, does not mean that you must pay your bill electronically. I pay by cheque and snail mail.

    Print out the paper bill. Cut the bill portion from the bottom of the front page and mail it along with your cheque to the Bell address on the bill.

    That way, you’re paying your bill but not providing Bell access to your bank account.

  14. If Bell’s e-care wasn’t so wonky then perhaps this change wouldn’t be so bad, but Bell’s electronic billing is a disaster. I’ll be cancelling my Bell service unless this charge is reversed.

  15. I just had to do a search to see who else feels that what Bell is doing is quite unreasonable.

    I’m thinking about all of the junk mail that Bells sends all of us, trying to hook us up to their TV service and whatever else they have to offer. So, does this cost them $2 each time? Are they now going to stop this tactic and just send us spam email? I doubt it.

  16. Hi Ellen, again you’re our champion with consumer rights. Thank you!

    I hope there is some government intervention here to keep Bell’s billing process status quo.

    It’s fine to suggest threatening to move to another provider – but Bell knows this is an empty threat, as many of us have some sort of contract with them, either a cell phone, or this new Fibe TV that we are locked into, unless you pay them [again] a penalty to get out of it.

    I’m old-school and believe it’s the responsibility of the seller [of a service or goods] to provide an invoice/bill on their tab, not the buyer’s to go somewhere else to retrieve it.

    Seems tax departments and lawyers and accountants all want paper documents that can be archived. Who is to guarantee that Bell’s digital version will be available for that minimum 6-7 years typically required?

    Sure, we can all go fetch our bill and print it ourselves – but that goes against Bell’s spouted reasoning in their email about saving the environment, doesn’t it?

    As another poster said, it’s another cash grab to line executive pockets, and the disadvantaged [sic] customer is gouged again…

  17. How does putting $2 a month into Bell coffers help the environment? This is just a money grab wrapped up in the environment blanket.

  18. I understand the frustration but all of the users on this website obviously dont know how much it cost to print off the amount of bills that bell prints off. how much is one color ink cartridge? obviously you all are not taking that into account.

  19. To Aaron:

    That’s called the cost of doing business. They now suddenly want to profit more from customers by shifting their business costs directly to consumers.
    Think of it this way…grocery and department stores spend a large amount of money on heating/air conditioning and lighting. Should we then start having a surcharge added to the bottom of our receipts when we buy something?
    Bell, etc. just wants to gouge people for more money.

  20. If you want to continue helping people Re: Bell, let me suggest this. I am 83 years old and pay $50/month for Bell high speed. People should check their internet speed on a regular basis, both by Bell’s speed test and

    I have had “high speed” internet from bell for many years and just now tested my speed. I was to have up to 6 Mbps speed. I peaked at 1.3 Mbps.

    I had a technician come to my place. He ran a number of tests and said I was too far from the central office and “the best I would ever get was a peak service at 1.3 and regular at 1.1, 1/6th of what I paid all these years for.

    I live at Dawes just north of Danforth and the office is at Main St. and Kingston Rd. The distance is less than 4 kilometers and yet I am too far away.

    People need to test. They may also be “too far away” to get the service they pay for and Bell will never tell them. Be proactive.

  21. It’s obvious you guys don’t know anything about business. Did you all complain when supermarkets started charging for bags?

    This is a prime example of how the consumer has to bite the bullet and either buy their own bags or purchase them at checkout.

  22. I am thinking of people who do not have internet like my mother,this means she will be penalized a service charge of $2.00 for receiving a paper billing.
    Or how about if your internet is down or your computer is broken,or you got laid off and you need to cut down some expenses like your internet.Receiving the bill by mail is more efficiant than electronic billing…less complications

  23. Cue the old people complaining and ignoring that there are positive environmental benefits.

    If you really hate it that much, just switch companies. It’s not the law you have to have a phone with Bell.

  24. We have already have the service of paper bill. This tradition has been on all the time. Why we have to pay additional $2.00? Don’t forget we are paying only for telephone and communication services.

    Bell forced and requested you to get a ebill for them and pay for the services. Becuase of the services requested by Bell, they should pay you for the service of getting a ebill.

    You may charge them $5.00 by sending them a monthly bill. If they do not pay it, you can go to small claim court and fight for it.

    When Bell offers you the telephone services, automatically you are a debtor. It is legally required Bell to provide you with information to pay. The best way is to send you the invoice in the commercial practice. You have to pay $2.00 charges. This is the first time I have seen. It works out as $24.00 per year. To pay the charity, they will say thanks. This is really paid Bell for nothing!

    The other problem is those people that they do not know English, use of computer, seniors having problem of using computer, and some people like to pay the paper bill. Why we want to penalize them? They are Bell’s customers and helping Bell to make money. It is very much regrettable and sorrowful that Bell does not have any sense of social responsibility. Let them beaufify and enrich themselves with $2.00 and wither away. Eventually, the cash cow is killed.

    Now, as I am Bell’s loyal and valued customer, I strongly urge those seniors like me to stand up and fight to get rid of this unncessary sin charges. You are free to:

    1. take Bell to small claim court for charges not related to telephone and communication charges.

    2. charge Bell for the service you render to them by getting a ebill, as your services is requested by them, say $5.00 per month. Bell wants somebody to do something and they have to pay for it.

    3. keep up your complaint to regulatory bodies and ask them to intervene.

    4. Leave Bell and get other server who can provide a better service.

    Let’s work together, we will win.

  25. Bell is not the only one – Fido is another that charges for paper, and it. I agree it’s rude. With so many people changing over to ebilling – in whole the only one saving any amount of money is the company themselves.

  26. I did not read through all the comments so I will apologize in advance if someone has already stated this.

    With this additional charge, does it not constitute a change in the contractual obligation that you have with them?

    If this is the case, do we not have recourse and can we cancel our services with them without penalty? Anybody?

  27. Bottom line for ebills is more profit for Bell. Just got my notice last night and told Bell to disconnect all my services because I’m not accepting ebills or $2 per month extra for paper bills.

    I was on ebills with Bell before and it cost me extra money because they used to send the ebill 2-3 days before due date. Since I don’t check my email often, I was late paying.

    I don’t think its legal to force me to ebills.

  28. I registered for e-bill 2 months ago so I won’t be charged the 2.00 per month. In reality I’m not saving anything, my bill is still the same amount as before.

    At the same time Bell finds it necessary to send all of their customers promotions for the services that they don’t curently have by regular mail, at least once a month free of charge. Is this fare?

    I received my last bill on e-bill and noticed the special note on it. It reads as followes.

    Effective June 3, 2012 , the monthly price of your home phone service will increase by $2.00. You will continue to benefit from bundle savings, where applicable. If you wish to bundle your services to enjoy recurring savings every month, or modify or cancel your service as a result of this change, please call us.

    From what i understand is that Bell is increasing everyones phone bill $2.00 per month anyhow, weather you want paper bills or not. If you opt for paper bills then in June your bill will be increased by $4.00 per month.

    It also sounds like Bells attitude is, if you don’t like it just cancel.

    If I am wrong about this please will someone correct me?


    (1) Paper bill fee has been added to my June 2012 bill: $2.00
    (2) Bundle discounts have now decreased by $1.00 each: $2.00 for me.

    Increase in June 2012 bill: $4.00

    Conclusion: I’m switching service providers. This is getting more and more expensive for both internet and phone. I’m not thrilled about paperless billing either.

    I use a filing cabinet, where I keep one to two years’ worth of billing statements, to see how the billing fee changes over time.

    I will always print statements and file them accordingly. In my case, now I have to waste my ink/paper/time to do what Bell should be doing at their expense.

    Based on the fee changes that have occurred (within the same month, I might add), this has been the last straw for me.

  30. I share your outrage regarding the $2.00 service charge for paper bills. I have a learning disability that affects organization and memory. As a result, for the first time I opened a Bell account, I missed my payment.

    This violates the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disability Act, which requires businesses to provide accommodations necessary to access customer service among other things.

    I emailed the relevant department at Bell and received a reply that they will accommodate people with visual impairments or those who do not have computers.

    I will be pursuing this discriminatory act against people with disabilities further.

  31. As with many of you, I too was annoyed with the $2 paper bill fee and the reduction of each bundling discount by $1. So I decided I would engage Bell in their games.

    I unsubscribed from their email marketing material. Then, I phoned their marketing office to remove myself from paper marketing material.

    Now, for what is Bell’s silly saving of $6 per month on my suite of services, they can no longer market to me.

    Please pass along the message. I think actions like this might cause Bell to pause and rethink their fee increase.

  32. I actually liked this idea and I did opt for paperless ebill.

    I recently decided to cancel my home phone since having a cell phone is cheaper and more convenient for me. I told the customer rep that I noticed I keep getting the paper bill and also am being charged $2, even though I opted for the ebill.

    She said she would reimburse me and I continued (in my astonishment) to ask why in the world did they keep sending me the paper when I got the ebill? And she said, “Ma’am, some people want both” !!

    Hahaha…yeah but in reality not really funny, because I can’t imagine that ever happening. Dah! Isn’t that why they give you a choice?

    This is like dealing with criminals and not a real bona fide Canadian corporation. Sleazeball comes to mind actually.

    How sad that I am born here in Toronto and see such conduct from a company I once held in high esteem for many years.

  33. I just think that anyone getting charged 2 extra dollars for a paper bill should pay by cheque and send in their payment by mail.

    Maybe you cant control how you get billed, but you can still have the last say in how you pay.

  34. It’s nothing but GREED AND IRRESPONSIBLITY on behalf of Bell Canada.

    There must be people high up on the corporate ladder being paid huge bonuses to come up with the next money grabbing scheme.

    I cancelled my TV and soon will be cancelling phone and internet. I’m DISGUSTED.

  35. I have just spent more than 35 minutes trying to get someone to explain the purpose of the $2 paper bill fee.

    The two customer service reps were very polite, but could only state that the fee was imposed by CRTC and not Bell. They could not tell me where this fee actually went.

    I suggested that Bell could save a lot of money and save a lot more trees if they stopped sending so much “junk mail” and advertisements to encourage me to buy more.

    More money would be saved if they stopped phoning me to entice me to buy more by creating a bundle savings. They were able to give me a “promotional savings” for a 1 year term.

    Then I have to call them in a year to see what further savings they are going to negotiate with me.

    If Bell really wants to create customer loyalty, why not be HONEST at the start and try to reduce your bill at the outset, instead of adding more service fees and services?

    Guess I have a year to find a new sevice provider.

  36. What I have done, and urge each of you to do, is go to the CRTC site and register a complaint against Bell, since this is equivalent to an unapproved rate increase.

    No service has changed, yet we are being charged more.

    They should offer a $2 discount to clients who go paperless, not a $2 increase. The cost of paper and stamps has not increased, nor has your service level.

  37. My home phone is with Bell and I have signed up for their E- Bill.

    Every month I keep on getting countless ad mail from them asking me to sign up for their Internet, Mobile phone and Internet service.

    How do I stop that ? Is there anywhere online on their website where I can stop this marketing material ?

    I no longer get my home phone bill in mail as its an E bill now, but they are more than happy to send me countless junk mail/ ad mail in my mail.

    Go figure. Does it cost them 2 bucks to mail this crap to me? If so, why don’t they stop it and become more environment friendly as they are claiming to be? lol.

  38. I called and explained that my father was a senior, had vision issues and needed the paper bill to view with a magnifier. And they took care of the fee right away. Anyone else having eye troubles? 🙂

  39. Can someone tell me how Bell is listing the $2.00 charge on
    the phone bill? Is it neatly hidden in one of the charges or is it a seperate line? thanks in advance

  40. These companies feed us the hogwash to save a tree. Like when I receive a bill, I have to make a copy and file it, for what if my computer crashed? Like what are you saving?

    I think I’ll go back to paying my bill at a bank or kiosk by cheque on the due date. It is stamped as pair, though it must tick many of these companies off. Or another WA, I canmail my bill in enough time to get to them before the due date with a post dated cheque to tick them off.

    They want to play hard ball? I’m all for it. What about the elderly or those with no computer? I just get tired of being nickel and dimed to death by these big companies.

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