First the good news. A bill has been passed in the Spanish parliament which ends charges for paper bills from energy and telecoms providers. At last – a consumer triumph. Now the bad news – it’s not happened in the UK!
Yes, while we’ve been beavering away across Britain, spreading the Keep Me Posted word, meeting organisations, signing up charities, putting pressure on regulators and the providers themselves, Spain has only gone and listened, and got there first. And France has done something similar too with a decree that telephone operators and internet service providers will have to provide paper bills free of charge if asked.
I was absolutely delighted to hear that at long last some consumers on the continent will be protected from this forced drive to digital. But of course there are millions more in the UK who do not yet have this choice.
I’m hoping that the UK parliament will take a leaf out of Spain’s and France’s books and look towards introducing some sort of legislation here. We’ve been really pleased at the reaction of such a large number of MPs who have signed our Early Day Motion and came along to sign our giant postcard when we visited the Commons. In fact our campaign has the backing of a fifth of all elected representatives. What’s more it’s one of the best supported EDMs in this Parliamentary session, sitting in the top 20. When you consider there are almost 1200 EDMs tabled so far, that’s a tremendous achievement.
And I suspect such a change can’t come too soon for Sky customers – we were contacted by a supporter just yesterday outraged that the cost of her paper bill was rising by 75p. Sky say it’s because the costs for producing these have increased since the price was last reviewed in 2012 but I’m not sure that a 75% increase is justified.
Even the things we moan about most, the cost of energy and rail fares haven’t gone up that much. Let’s import something new from our European cousins – the chance to get our paper bills and statements for free.