Australians want choice for receiving bills

A survey by Toluna says 86 per cent of Australians want the right to choose how they get communications, with 75 per cent agreeing that they should not be charged more for choosing a paper bill or statement.

Treasury is currently reviewing paper billing fees and has consulted with campaign group Keep Me Posted. The national consultation is seeking submissions from consumers, advocates, businesses and environmental groups.

Paper billing used to come without charges, however the big telcos, banks and utilities now make customers pay, with the aim of driving people to electronic billing, so slashing their print and mail costs, Transactional printers have been hammered by the switch.

Kellie Northwood, executive director of Keep Me Posted, says, “Businesses need to start listening to their customers and meeting their demands without introducing an added penalty. If they don’t, companies could face loss of business.”

[Related: Treasury examines paper fees ban]

The research shows 80 per cent of Australians want to have the option to revert back to paper communication if at a previous stage they agreed to receive electronic bills and statements and 63 per cent of consumers agree they prefer to receive personal information such as that sent from doctors and hospitals in print.

A portion of the study focused heavily on consumers’ outlook on the security and privacy of the internet with 66 per cent of consumers being worried that their personal information held electronically is at risk of being hacked, stolen, lost or damaged.

Northwood says, “Online scams are one of the many aspects of how paper fees impact people’s lives. We often refer to the digital divide and cost as factors why people want to receive paper communications, however online safety is a critical aspect of this issue.”

Keep Me Posted says the issue is not defined by age as according to the Toluna survey, 87 per cent of the 18-34 bracket agree that consumers should have the right to choose how to receive important information. The study also revealed that 43 per cent agree if a financial organisation or service provider forced them to go paperless, they would consider switching to an alternative financial organisation or service provider.

Almost two thirds of participants (59 per cent) agree that they find it easier to track their expenses and manage their finances when it is printed on paper.

Northwood says, “For Australians consumers, we really want the issue to be solved as soon as possible, this consultation is the first step towards legislative reform. We call on all Australians, stakeholders, interested groups and consumers to have their say and support the ban.”

Australians have until Friday December 22 to make a submission to Treasury’s consultation.

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