Wireless carriers charge $2 to $4 for paper bills

Edward Carson has a Telus Mobility account. He’s not happy that he has to pay $2, starting in September, to get paper bills delivered by mail.

Most other wireless carriers already charge for paper bills, says Jim Johannsson, director of media relations at Telus.

The paperless revolution has been slow to arrive. But it may accelerate if more companies decide to bill customers a few dollars apiece for old-fashioned hard copies.

Telus is making a one-time donation to the Nature Conservancy of Canada when customers switch to paperless. But shouldn’t it give customers an incentive, such as a discount arising from their cost savings?

Read the conversation below between Carson and Johannsson. Then, share your views.

Author: Ellen Roseman

Consumer advocate and personal finance author and instructor.

60 thoughts on “Wireless carriers charge $2 to $4 for paper bills”

  1. Yet another way to squeeze more money out of sitting ducks, who are going to help Telus get a TAX DEDUCTION for charitable donations. Wonder what Revenue Canada thinks?

  2. I have been using the Telus paperless option since it was introduced. I am a relatively light wireless user, yet my paper statement, which listed every call made and received, was never less than three or four pages long. I can imagine how thick the envelopes might be for some of the higher-volume customers — consider not only the added postage, but also the waste of paper once the statements have been read and discarded. I am not a tree-hugger, but am beginning to resent the senseless waste of our depleting natural resources.

    In terms of security, I would rather scan my statement online, and print out any pages that I wish to keep for future reference, than have a paper statement sitting in my mailbox for the better part of the day, or “filed” in my purse or on my desk for prying eyes to see.

    As for the charitable donation, it does irk me to witness so many corporations choose the altruistic angle while slipping their hands into their customers’ pockets. The grocery chains justified their 5 cent bag tax by offering the proceeds to charity — I’m not sure if that is still the case for the grocers, or, indeed, if the many retailers who have since jumped on the bandwagon are following the same model. I find it puzzling that Big Business thinks that all of its customers are charitably-inclined.

    My message to Telus: if your move to axe paper statements will save you time and money, then you will likely generate a great deal more goodwill by passing the savings on to your customers, rather than aligning yourself with a reputable charitable organization to help gloss over the new charges. You know — I’ll scratch your back if…..

  3. Hey Jim

    No one is buying into your corporate-speak. The $2.00 service charge is a cash grab plain and simple. The profit may be slim but it’s still a profit. Quit trying to put a green spin on it. It’s faux altruism and you know it.

  4. Jim Johannsson…I’m confused. Have you phrased the second sentence in your last post correctly??

  5. Edward Carson…I think the plan is to give NCC $2.00 ONCE if we convert to paperless.

    If we DON’T, we will get charged $2.00/month FOREVER.

  6. Yes…the cost of paper billing has been buried in the cost of our plans, so there is no real incentive for the customer to go paperless.

    Telus…if you really want to give your customers incentive, give them back a portion of your paper billing savings…bet a lot would go for that.

  7. As usual, another interesting blog by Ellen. In the last few weeks, she’s struck a nerve with the TFSA over-contribution articles, the eco-fee disaster, and most recently the Enbridge equal billing plan. The paperless billing issue is another hot topic.

    Ellen, you have this amazing knack of digging up issues that people are passionate about. Keep up the great work.

  8. Statements of various kinds have been expanding in size for some years. Bell (landline) used to manage with one page and now it’s two. Rogers (cellphone) takes three pages for a customer who hardly uses any airtime. Our investment statements are at least two pages and often three. Our Visa statement is two pages, including one for the the corporate bumpf. Toronto Hydro has only one page but it’s a long one. None of this is necessary but apparently no one sees it as extravagant.

  9. I switched off every bill statement I could years ago and am glad I did. Now I just check the amount automatically charged to my Visa each month and if it looks unusual I go online to look at the details. I don’t feel guilty about stacks of unread statements piling up in the corner or shredding them before I toss them. Couldn’t be easier.

    Paper bills are really old school. I don’t understand why anybody would still want paper but if they do that should be their choice and they should pay for them. Doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that printing and mailing bills costs more than going online.

  10. “Doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that printing and mailing bills costs more than going online.”
    That statement is not necessarily correct. The cost of the IT department is increasing in many companies. The cost of a secure system that is updated on a regular basis to prevent problems can be very high.

  11. I do not disagree with the move to paperless billing. But for those of us who need to keep a copy of their invoices for audit purpose, this is becoming a nightmare. We end up having to print the invoice anyway in case a computer crashes or if we don’t want to lose the data by mistake, hence, the printing still occurs but the cost has been transferred to the customer. I don’t believe there is a way back though but let’s call it what it is: a cost cutting effort from companies. Period.

  12. I receive only one paper bill, for a business banking account that I can’t get electronically. Enbridge was the last company I deal with to offer paper billing, about a year ago if I remember correctly. My bills are stored by epost; stored on two local computers; and backed up to a cheap-n-easy service in Atlanta, GA. (You all backup your computers, right? 🙂

    Vincent – you don’t need paper copies “in case a computer crashes or we lose the data”; properly backed up, there’s less risk of losing electronic bills than there is paper bills to flood, fire, coffee spills, etc. etc.

    Marie – it costs a buck or two *per* bill just for printing, stuffing, and mailing. High-speed printers are not cheap to run and maintain. The IT staff is the same either way.

    Telus (and Fido, and everyone else who charges for paper bills) is going to make their profits any way they can. If they can’t charge you a “paper billing” fee like this, than they’ll bump up some other fee (out-of-area minutes, text messages, roaming charges, etc.; things that all of the carriers have done recently).

  13. I completely agree with Edward Carson.

    Telus is saving a lot of money so it should give a discount not charge an additional fee.

    Electronic billing also allows corporations to hide increases or extra charges since it’s too much hassle for most people to review their bills online especially if they have to flip through 17 pages. They just pay what’s on the 1st page “payment due”. Many people also have automatic payments of their bills and they won’t even bother checking the bill.

    Nothing gets an increase or new fee noticed as receiving a paper notice/statement in the mail.

  14. Seems to me that there are a few free options here to avoid the charge, one using your cell phone itself.

    So if I can save myself $2 per month and a lot of trees, I don’t see the big deal.

    It’s 2010 and strangely, there are still some companies that don’t offer online billing, so I still have to do some paper. There’s usually 4 pages per bill, so each year that adds up to about 48 pages!

    Considering I read it, pay it and tear it up (by hand, which is so annoying), the online options seems logical to me.

    Just like most of my friends, I like doing my bills online because it is way faster and more convenient – plus it’s easier on the environment.

    Also, I find if I want to look back at archived history, I can click to find it, rather than sifting through sheets of paper. I just don’t have time for that paper nonsense.

  15. Good grief we’re well into the 21st century and some diehards are still holding on to their paper bills. What’s next – a campaign to bring back leaded gasoline?

  16. It’s called green washing.

    Telus and the other wireless providers will get away with it because they essentially operate as a cartel. The customer cannot change companies to avoid their predatory pricing.

    A similar tactic occurred with supermarkets charging 5¢ for carryout bags, 6¢ with HST. Magically, a cost centre became a glorious profit centre.

    Getting around that ripoff was easy. I no longer shop at Loblaws, which spearheaded the scam. If I have to supply my own carryout bag, I may as well shop at Costco, and save a ton of money for putting up with the inconvenience.

  17. I’m a Telus customer and went paperless a few months ago, before they announced they would be charging a $2/statement fee. I’m hoping Telus takes this $2 charge for clients who prefer paper bills to fix their online system.

    Since going paperless, I’ve had to re-register three times in order to access my account, and not because I’ve forgotten my password. Their telephone reps didn’t understand why I was calling and one even offered to switch me back to paper bills.

    I haven’t gotten my bill for the month yet, but I’m anticipating having to register for the fourth time.

  18. I have had the same problem as S.Lee I receive my internet bill from telus its a joke I no longer log in I am tiered of having to re-register every time.
    the bill is the same every month so I have chosen auto billing
    send me a paper bill once a month and skip the four pieces of ad-mail I receive
    monthly

  19. To Gardiner Westbound, it is the city’s doing that there is a charge of 5 cents for a plastic bag. Loblaws et al. had nothing to do with it.

  20. Jim Johannsson is full of it. I am a Fido customer and pay NOTHING for my paper statements. Yet he’s going to tell everyone on here that, “Fido: default is $2 paper bill”.
    Should Fido start charging for statements, I will cancel my service and go without a cellphone. I’m tired of being ripped off in the name of “the environment”. Telus can dance around verbally and do all sorts of linguistic gymnastics about how they care for the environment, but what it really boils down to is that they want to save themselves money on the paper. Only gullible idiots should fall for it.

  21. Frances:

    Not entirely true. Gardiner Westbound is correct about stores making a big money grab out of this environmental bag fee. Outside the boundaries of Toronto, where no such bylaws exist, many of the stores are charging 5 cents per bag now. I refuse to pay it. What will they have added onto my bill next? A charge for heating and lighting the store?

  22. To Frances,

    If that’s true, why is Loblaw (in the form of Real Canadian Superstore) dinging me the same fee for bags in CALGARY? I know the city isn’t seeing that fee, nor is any environmental concern.

  23. @Sarah; @Mike From Timmins: It appears your missing the big picture. . . Consider those who don’t own a computer, or have access to a computer, or just simply don’t need/have the desire for a computer. What option is available but to receive a paper bill. Even in the 21th century, there are a number of people without internet.

  24. I just got off the phone after speaking to a Telus ‘customer care’ specialist and I got everything from “we’ve always charged the $2 fee and now due to CRTC rulings regarding tranparency, we have to charge it out separately ” – to – ” all wireless companies are charging for paper invoices and we’re the last to start.”

    Unbelievable rhetoric!! It went on and on. Every time I brought up a new point, they had some phony answer or exuse.

    I finally said to her – look… I’m an Insurance Broker – I get a commission of 10% on auto insurance policies – If I collected your premium, which includes my commission, and then said – Oh by the way… it will be another $2 for me to print out the paperwork – how would you feel about that? – She did not have any answer to that question!! (Guess the corporate answer geeks missed that one.)

    I get the whole earth-friendly initiatives and I fully support them. It’s the fact that it’s forced on me, and I am so tired of being fee’d to death. You go buy a vehicle and the dealerships charge between $300-$500 to sell it to you. You borrow money from the bank and besides the interest they’re going to make on the loan they charge an administration fee.

    Next I expect to be standing in line at the grocery store and have the clerk tell me it will be an extra $2 for my till reciept!!

    Want to know the most unbelievable part? Telus let me walk! Over $800 in wireless phone bills per month for my business and they would not waive the $2 fee.

    And so I’m moving my entire account to Rogers – which, by the way, is not charging for paper bills….although I did sign up for paperless!!

  25. I believe that the “major” motivation behind the Telus “corporate green plan” is to move as many customers as possible onto Internet billing and then move it off shore to the Philippines just like they have done with their customer service. I assume most of you know this has been done..if not, ask the next customer service rep you speak with whether they are located in Canada or the Philippines.

    They must be rubbing their corporate hands in glee at the thought of money saved by laying off employees and closing billing departments across Canada. I would suspect that the groundwork has already been done for the transition and anyone presently receiving Internet bills are receiving them from the Philippines. Now they just need to force the rest of us to get on board:(

  26. All you short sighted posters, think about this.

    A business needs paper / hard copies of statements, invoices,etc. for accounting and tax purposes. Generally scanned or printed copies of statements etc. are not accepted (to name a few) by some lenders, government offices and courts.

    So it would be fair to say the fee(s) imposed on a business by Telus will be passed on to ……..YOU THE CUSTOMER.

  27. I think if most people protested this by taking their business elsewhere, you’d see a change in Telus’ position overnight. A business’s expenses (paper and ink) are not my problem, as a customer.

    Businesses have been providing paper statements from time immemorial and are using this enviro-kick as a way to mine more cash from the public.

    Many people might say, “It’s only $2 or $3 per statement”. Well, that amounts to $24 – $36 per year of my hard-earned money, and I say no one is entitled to it except me. I’m the one who did the work for it!

  28. Here’s an update to my earlier post about Telus farming out departments.

    I just spoke with their accounts department on a billing matter. I asked the CSR where she was located and she replied Guatemala.

    Does Telus use any Canadian employees any more?

  29. Just got my statement awaiting the usual manager callback from Telus in 24 to 72 hours. I encourage them to bill me the $2 fee. Has Telus not opened the contract to renewal-now can I leave without penalty? I wonder if a class action lawsuit is in order? This is going to get ugly.

  30. Telus can add any new charges they want to make to generate addition revenue, I hope as a customer I have the option of breaking the contract.

    I just filed a complaint here:

    http://www.ccts-cprst.ca

    As well industry Canada good information, shows how to go about dealing with companies:

    Canadian Council of Better Business Bureaus

    Canadian Council of Better Business Bureaus
    2 St. Clair Avenue East
    Suite 800
    Toronto, Ontario
    M4T 2T5
    Phone: 416.644.4936
    Email: ccbbb@canadiancouncilbbb.ca
    Online: http://www.ccbbb.ca/

  31. Typical Canadians:( Make a whole lot noise in the beginning then just walk away to get shafted again another day.

  32. Unfortunately, Lisa Dunlop, you are correct in your overall assessment of Canadians. Canadians always roll over in the end. It’s frustrating. The only thing Canadians seem to be good at is being rude to one another and engaging in road rage.

  33. Just had “lovely” talk with Telus retentions dept and they will let a 9 year loyal customer walk over a $2 charge ($4 as paying for 2 accounts)!!!

    Un-freaking believable!!! Why would any company would want to lose a loyal customer over a $2 charge!

    It is not easy for me to remember every single month 2 different billing dates and then to remember to pay them on time. I am one of those people, so sorry.

    Guess it is really time to switch since service gotten as bad as other carriers, so what is the difference?

    Bye bye, Telus!!!

  34. Here’s what I’ve done and I’m way ahead on cashflow.

    1. I’m a Rogers wireless customer and I used to get the paper bill, but pay it automatically through my credit card.

    2. I realized that the buggers debited my card about 2 – 3 weeks ahead of the due date for each bill, so I cut them off of that.

    3. Next, I converted to online billing and get an email it’s there. Like most email, I lose track of them and end up paying the bill about 60 days later than before. LOL>

  35. I’m tired of these big corporations nickel and diming us to death and usually there’s nothing we can do about it. There has to be a law against this practice! People should have the right to pay their bills how they want!
    P.S. I live close to the U.S.A. and have not filled my car up with fuel in Canada in ten years or more.

  36. Telus is acting like pigs at the trough…Good bye, Telus. Hello, Rogers. They need us. We don’t need them, plus Rogers works everywhere.

  37. I need help to file a class action law suit. This 2 dollar fee is in violation of their Detailed Billing. I have detailed billing and it states a printed monthly bill in the mail.

    http://www.telusmobility.com/en/BC/support_services/detailedbilling.shtml

    With Detailed Billing, you receive a premium, printed monthly review of all your calls in the mail for $3 per month. This bill lists all calls made, their date and time, and the number of airtime minutes used for each call.

    If you don’t subscribe to Detailed Billing, you will continue to receive your invoice summary monthly for free in the mail.

    Is there anything I can do to have this resolved? I’m being told i still have to pay 2 dollars even though Detailed billing states a mailed bill.

  38. Just FYI about the plastic bags. I’ve asked and each bag costs 1 CENT/bag whereas they charge 5 cents. Clearly they make a profit here when considering the volume.

    Now the numbers quoted are just from one source. I would not be surprised if the actual costs of each bag were less.

  39. I spoke today with a representative of Nature Conservancy Canada and he says the $2 donation was only for voluntary e-bill switches for the period of April 2010 to September 2010. It is now over and was not connected to the new $2 per/bill charge Telus imposed for existing customers as of September.

    My recent bills (Oct and November) from Telus do not make that distinction clear. NNC appears to still be benefiting from reaction to the new imposed charge.

    A terrible decision and management by NCC to end up associated with the negative-option charge imposed on existing customers by Telus.

    A sour taste all around!

  40. Hi, I have read everyone’s comments on the $2 additional charge by Telus to receive paper bill. But is this legal? What happens to all the money they collect? (e.g 1 million x 500,000 customers = $1 million monthly).

    They will only contribute a maximum of up to $650,000 to NCC. Someone please respond if this can be resolved with a class action suit against Telus!

    (If I am a businessman, I can’t expect my customers to pay me $2 for a paper invoice, the cost of invoicing being already built into my business model.)

    Telus $2 is a scam. Is the Government investigating?

  41. Update – Over the last week I’ve made my negative option billing complaint to Telus and “Stephanie” today agreed to suspend the $2.00 per bill charge until further notice – hypothetically until the year 3000.

    I will continue to complaint to Nature Conservancy of Canada about their association with the Telus’ terrible consumer relationship practices.

  42. Here is a Christmas laugh for you..after using “going green” as an excuse to extract a couple of more dollars from our pockets, Telus just offered me a “free” Christmas calendar.

    I wonder how many “trees” were sacrificed for this little ad initiative? See the height of hypocrisy below…

    “You’re an important client to us. As a way of saying thanks, we’d like to give you the opportunity to order a complimentary 2011 TELUS Calendar. Not only does it feature our famous critters, but also many of the accomplishments we’ve made together in our mission to give where we live.”

  43. I have used online billing for as long as I can remember and I’m getting tired of subsidizing people who demand the luxury of having their bills mailed to them for free.

    I do think people who want to have paper billing should have that choice. It’s their choice but they should pay for it, not me.

  44. Are you a Telus shill?

    Have they offered you a discount for for using online billing all this time?

    Is it a “luxury” to those who don’t have a computer or are too old to deal with one?

    I put that question to a Telus CSR and she responded that they can go to a library or Internet coffee shop to get their bill.

    How obtuse is an answer like that?

  45. I put that question to a Telus CSR and she responded that they can go to a library or Internet coffee shop to get their bill.

    That’s exactly what the CSR said to me…its in their script …she didn’t like it when I said I couldn’t afford the $6.00 bus ride, nor to do business with Telus.

  46. To Lisa Dunlop – how sad for you that you cannot accept that someone might have a different perspective on an issue than you – so you accuse them of being a shill.

    Using your logic, are we to assume that you are a shill for the paper industry because you like to see people waste paper? Of course not. You are entitled to your opinion and I am entitled to mine.

    There are millions of people like me who don’t want paper bills and there are likely millions of people like you who do want them. Those of us who don’t want paper bills don’t want to subsidize those of you who do want paper. You want it, you should pay for it. That’s how the world works, it’s just that simple.

  47. Telus promised to send me a text message to remind me the bill is ready for printing. Last month I did not receive one and I forgot the bill (relying too much on my service provider for the post 13 years)and I was charged a penalty.

  48. @Anthony,

    I had the same issue with Telus this month. Probably a lot of people didn’t read the fine print when the check the box on the website, but by checking the box, you agree that Telus doesn’t have to send you a bill, a reminder or anything else. They transfer the obligation to the customer to be up to date with their billing.

    Before the switch from paper to electronic, they had the obligation to send you a bill.

    I have contacted a firm to place a class action law suit. I am waiting for an answer from them…

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