Big businesses follow paperless trend

Big Australian businesses are riding the electronic wave and are encouraging customers to switch to paperless correspondence, saying otherwise they will be slugged with a fee.

Banking goliath Commonwealth was under fire last month for introducing a paper fee for mailing statements, but it isn’t the first big business to promote paperless communication.

Next week energy business Origin will enforce a $1.75 fee to customers wishing to receive correspondence in the mail. The business attributes the charge to an increase in the ‘cost of printing and postage’.

Telco giant Telstra already charges $2 per paper bill and rival Optus hits customers receiving mailed bills per month with a slightly pricier $2.20.

Insurance mogul NRMA is also encouraging a paperless business culture by promoting a range of consumer benefits that come from switching to email.

It however has not introduced a paper fee, and a range of sensitive documents including life insurance and income protection correspondence remain sent via post.

Both consumer advocacy group Choice and paper lobbyist Two Sides Australia have criticises the fees, describing them as ‘unfair’ and ‘unjustified’.

Unions advocating for the continued use of post have recently rallied together in a campaign titled Keep me Posted which fights for consumer choice and against imposing penalties for mail correspondence.

According to organisers of the campaign, embattled mail giant Australia Post supports the movement.

Two Sides executive director Kellie Northwood says companies charging for mailed statements are misinformed about the cost difference between post and email.

“The rush to embrace digital is not the most sensible move for companies. Currently, one in five Australians are not accessing the internet at home and consumers report a strong preference for paper with 80 per cent reporting they prefer reading from paper than reading from screen, that figure includes 83 per cent of 18-24 year olds,” says Northwood.

“This campaign is about bringing the consumer voice to companies to ensure these ‘pay-to-pay’ policies are reconsidered.”

In a press release about the campaign, Two Sides stated, “the launch took place in Canberra yesterday with bipartisan political support, most notably Independents Nick Xenophon MP and Andrew Wilkie MP has publicly supported the campaign calling for review. Labor Senator Anne Urqhart also called for ‘corporations to act responsibly’ in this regard and deliver customer service rather than blanket."

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