Canadian Flag

CRTC and Carriers Still at Odds Over Charges for Paper Billings

August 29, 2014 - Written By Cory McNutt

Paper Bills – a nasty word to businesses and in this world of environmental concerns and wireless connections, one wonders why a paper bill is even necessary.  However, there are people in situations that need a paper bill and for years now they have been charged extra for that once free ‘luxury.’  It wasn’t that long ago that receiving your monthly statement in the mail was the norm – I actually enjoyed it because it was always an (un)welcomed reminded that I owed money and the bill was due.  Now I know that you can set up an electronic reminder, but they show up, you see them, but soon forget about them – with a pile of paper bills, I am always reminded and as you pay one you can then file it away.

There was a time when paper bills were the norm and the customer was always asked if they wanted to convert to ‘paperless’ billing and many customers agreed to do that – more out of wanting to ‘save a tree’ than really any convenience attached to the gesture.  Companies treated it as an ‘experiment’ for a while and then decided that the cost of mailing out a paper bill each month was too expensive and started charging a fee if you didn’t switch.  According to a report by the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC), Canadians are paying upwards of $495 to $734 million a year on paper bill fees!  Citizens were so outraged that they asked the PIAC to make recommendations to the government to eliminating these charges.

Jonathan Bishop, PIAC’s Research Analyst, said, “a majority of consumers have indicated their disapproval of being charged extra for a paper bill.  Most Canadians believe supplying a paper bill in the mail without having to pay an extra fee is part of the company’s cost of doing business.”

The CRTC hosted a meeting to discuss charges for paper billing and in attendance was Bell Aliant, Bell Canada, Cogeco Cable, Eastlink, Globalive, MTS Allstream, Quebecor, Rogers, SaskTel, Shaw Communications and Telus.  Those companies that charge for paper bills agreed to provide exemptions for certain groups of customers rather than an overall elimination of the fees.  Exemptions agreed upon were for “customers who have no personal or home broadband connection, persons with disabilities who need a paper bill, seniors aged 65 and over and veterans of the Canadian Armed Forces,” and they said those exemptions will start by January 1, 2015.

Tom Pentefountas, Vice-Chairman of Broadcasting, and Peter Menzies, Vice-Chairman of Telecommunications issued this:

“We are very disappointed, however, that they were unable to reach a broader consensus that would have taken into account the concerns of all Canadians. We have recommended to our colleagues that the CRTC seek the views of Canadians to verify whether this approach would enable them to make informed choices regarding how they are billed for their communication services.  We note that the companies that charge paper bill fees have stated that, in the coming days, they will be evaluating further measures.”

Please hit us up on our Google+ Page and let us know what you think about companies charging for paper billing – which definitely costs more money – is it a cost of doing business or should only those that demand it, have to pay for the service…as always, we would love to hear from you.