Mailing campaign Keep Me Posted, held its first Canberra forum with Andrew Leigh, shadow treasurer, hosting the meet.
Keep Me Posted is a consumer campaign advocating for Australian’s right to choose, free of charge, how they receive their financial statements.
Kellie Northwood, executive director, TSA Limited and Colin Ormsby, Fair Go for Pensioners also spoke at the forum.
Andrew Leigh, shadow treasurer, says, “ACT residents should be entitled to choose printed communications without risking a penalty from their corporate service providers.
“In 2017, numerous banks, telecommunication companies and other service providers are pressuring its customers to accept electronic bills and statements, even though many Canberra residents find it difficult or impossible to access their papers online.
“Keep Me Posted is challenging corporations to remove pay-to-pay penalties for Australians who prefer paper communications.”
Northwood says they discussed the campaign and heard the community issues about the difficulty to manage their finances when forced to go digital.
“We discussed the growing digital divide in Australia and how critical it is for the government to assist the community in its digital transition. We heard individual difficulties being experienced and we are taking those stories to the politicians to give a human voice behind this poor practice from the corporate sector,” she says.
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Northwood says they are seeking legislative reform to protect consumers from having to pay a fee for a bill or statement regardless of whether they receive this in paper or digital form.
“We are seeing now digital billing fees be introduced and we argue against any fees of this nature. It is a legal responsibility of companies to issue a compliant bill to their customers, it should not then be the customer’s responsibility to fund that regardless of how they wish to receive it,” she says.
Since starting this campaign, Northwood says she is noticing more companies implementing these fees, which is now impacting more people.
“It is a confusing policy and one leaving people exposed. It is not good business practice, research shows customers are more likely to pay on time, have greater connections to the company and enjoy being a customer when receiving paper bills over digital bills. An energy company in Europe, abandoned digital billing when they realised how much more it was costing them in collections and reverted to paper bills. What may seem like a quick cost grab, in fact could be costing these companies a lot more in back end costs than they realise,” she says.
Northwood says they are now seeking a Senate Inquiry as well as engaging state by state with the state governments throughout Australia.
“The campaign will continue raising awareness with community and charity groups, as well as waiting for the ACL review to be issued at the end of this month. Our members continue to be briefed and will also play an active role in sharing the campaign with their wider communities,” she says.
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