Today marks the launch of Keep Me Posted, a broad-based campaign calling for protection of consumer choice over how organisations, such as energy and telecoms companies and banks, send them their bills and statements. This is believed to be the first initiative of this kind in the UK.

The Keep Me Posted campaign represents charities, consumers and businesses who are concerned at the growing lack of choice offered to consumers about how they receive important communications.  Keep Me Posted campaign partners have witnessed a trend of businesses switching their customers to mainly digital communication, which isn’t always preferable or suitable for a large proportion of UK consumers. They believe every consumer should be able to choose, without being penalised, a paper copy of communications from banks, utility companies and other service providers. 

Members of the Keep Me Posted campaign include: Mind, the National Consumer Federation, The National Federation of Occupational Pensioners, the Post Office, as well as UK postal operators Royal Mail, TNT Post and UK Mail. The campaign is funded by UK postal operators, Royal Mail, TNT Post and UK Mail. 

According to ONS Q1 2013 data, 7.1 million adults (14%) in the UK have never used the internet. Statistics from GoOnUK reveal that 16 million people in the UK aged 15 and over still do not have basic internet skills. New independent research from Opinium* reveals that 84 per cent of adults are unhappy when companies take away their right to choose how they are communicated with, but there is currently little legislation or regulation to prevent this. 

Further research by Opinium found that consumers want to have the option to choose the medium by which they receive their bills and statements: 81 per cent of people feel they have a better chance of reading statements if they are available by post and online.  Meanwhile, 4 in 10 people say the removal of paper statements entirely could seriously affect their finances, such as missing a bill payment. 

The Keep Me Posted campaign is calling for businesses and other organisations to offer consumers the right to choose by adopting the campaign’s six-point ‘right to choose’ pledge, which can be seen at www.keepmeposteduk.com.

Judith Donovan CBE, Chair, of the Keep Me Posted campaign, says: 

“In my daily life I hear many concerns about the move to paperless bills and statements but even more concerns about the consumer choice being removed. There is no doubt that some businesses have forgotten to take their customers with them on that journey.

Malcolm Booth, Chief Executive Officer, National Federation of Occupational Pensioners, says:

“Many of our members do not have direct access to a computer and many do not want to get involved with new technology. Requiring them to request to remain on the paper system they are used to is unreasonable.  There is also an increased risk of financial abuse if they are required to rely on third parties to assist them in gaining and accessing their personal data.”.

Mary McAnally, President, The National Consumer Federation, says: 

“The National Consumer Federation backs the 'Keep Me Posted ' campaign.  The NCF recently launched The Consumer Charter for Regulators which is supported by the UK's major consumer organisations.  One of the clauses says "An effective Regulator will understand what a good outcome looks like for all consumers and deliver it, including.... access for all including disabled people and consumers in vulnerable positions".  The switch towards purely digital communication means that those consumers without access to a computer clearly fall into this category and therefore the NCF urges the various Utility and Financial Services Regulators to act immediately to stop this blatant creep towards paperless bills together with cost discrimination for those who do not wish to receive their bills online.”

Bridget O'Connell, Head of Information at Mind, says:

"In the current economic climate, where so many people are struggling with financial worries, we are very concerned that 4 in 10 people say the removal of paper statements entirely could seriously affect their finances, leading even to missing a bill payment. The link between debt and mental health problems is well known and businesses should be interacting with people in a way that supports good financial management."

Mark Davies, Director of Communications at Post Office, says:

“Our customers come first and we believe that they should have a choice when it comes to receiving information. That's why we are supporting the Keep Me Posted campaign. 16 m people lack the skills to benefit fully from the internet. It's critical that they are given the support they need to make the choice as to how best to take advantage of these benefits. We are working hard to support efforts to give people the digital skills they need by helping them access online learning and skills centres.”