Discrimination in the three-dimensional world

22nd August 2014

Given that there are four million households without internet access, almost seven million people who have never used the internet, and another 11 million who don’t have the skills to do basic computer tasks like shop or email online, you’d think the world would be a more sympathetic place.

Last month our survey showed those who are not online spend an average £440 extra on goods and services, when you take into account not being able to browse for the best deals, the cost of travelling to buy things rather than clicking and having them delivered to you, and so on.

However, some of your letters reveal that there are all sorts of ways in which those who are not online are having an unfair deal.

One gentleman from Newport in Wales told us that if he was online, he could renew his senior citizens railcard for a three year period. Going along to the station and renewing face to face, he could renew only for one year. He wrote of this as “growing discrimination against the IT non-connected”, and I agree.

Another gentleman, who had supported a certain charity for many years stopped his subscription after he complained that he was no longer sent any information about campaigns by post, but was given an online reference instead. He was told, “that’s just the way it is”. I won’t name the charity, but if one person cared enough to tell us about this, imagine how many more may have quietly withdrawn their backing. As a marketer I know the old adage that it’s always far cheaper to keep a current customer than it is to find a new one, so that could be money wasted as the charity tries to replace his regular donation.

Then there are several people who feel disenfranchised because when radio and TV programmes mention there is more information available it’s almost always on a web site. I can imagine the sofas of the UK filled with quietly-fuming people who would love to know more, but are effectively barred.

 So although our campaign is all about the choice in the method by which you receive financial information, it’s clear that’s just one way in which those without online access find they are almost in a parallel universe. I’d be really interested to know any other ways you may have found where you get a different deal online to that offered to those in the three-dimensional world.

Judith Donovan