In other Blog-entries we already pointed out that paper bills and statements have virtually disappeared in Europe. Payments are done with a type of wire-transfer, online or by automatic payment transactions. When the average European is confronted with US-style billing and payment transactions, it usually results in utter disbelief, accompanied by some head shaking.
We feel that during 2010 we will see exponential increase in attempts of US companies to attempt switching paper mail into the digital realm. Some companies will try to introduce additional charges for sending out bills and statements. Randy Carey claims that there is no federal regulation, that prohibits a bank from charging for paper bank statements. This was his answer to a question in BankersOnline.com where someone asked: ” Is there any regulation that prohibits a bank from charging for paper bank statements? For cost reasons, we would like all our customers to sign up for e-statements.”
The approach of introducing additional charges invites a backlash by angry consumers, even threats of class action lawsuits. The smarter companies will try to give an appeasing incentive by giving credits to consumers for making the switch to digital.
Often consumers are a tad timid switching to online banking. But receiving bank statements online does not necessarily require online banking, which is plagued by various security breaches. Online viewing of documents, does not need to provide potentially unsecure online-banking functionality. Once this message is out and companies give attractive incentives for switching, then the dam is almost ready to break. Just that there is one more little problem. Often online statements/bills require the consumer to manage an online account for each company. Wouldn’t it be nice for the consumer to have all bills/statements available under one online account? Zumbox already has the infrastructure in place to consolidate electronic document delivery. We conclude that the dam is ready to break, in regards to bills and statements. But the arcane paying system with checks, will still take a couple more years to make that switch. Eliminating the cost of scanning in canceled checks, will be the next target in banks cost reduction efforts.
Examples of companies trying to make the switch to digital:
Companies’ campaigns to push consumers online are likely to continue that trend. Verizon Communications has begun a “Get Your Green On” campaign, giving customers a chance to win a 2010 Toyota Prius Hybrid in a sweepstakes if they go paperless. While several phone companies charge for detailed paper bills, in September T-Mobile will begin charging $1.50 for a basic printed bill each month.
Customers couldn’t take any more. They complained. Two people in Missouri even filed a class-action lawsuit, claiming T-Mobile breached its contracts with the charge.
On Sept. 11, a day before the fee was to start, T-Mobile backed off.
Virgin Mobile & Virgin Broadband
Virgin Mobile announcement
From the 1st of December 2009, we are introducing a $2.20 Paper Bill Charge. The charge will apply to ALL Post-Paid Members who choose to receive a Paper Bill from that date onwards.
E-trade Commissions & Fees
You will be charged a $2.00 handling fee for each E*TRADE Securities paper statement mailed to your address of record, unless an exemption applies.
State Farm Insurance
Supposedly charges $3 for a monthly payment plan with a paper reminder each month, to its customers on monthly billing.