Customers are being charged up to £1.90 for a paper bill or statement – as much as a 442% mark up on the approximate cost to their provider (35p – 65p)
Mobile phone companies and other telecoms and media providers remain the worst offenders
Judith Donovan, CBE: “Companies are not only passing costs on to their customers, but are also profiting from it in the process”
Service providers, who charge for a paper bill or statement, may be passing on inflated costs to their customers with as much as a 442% mark up, according to findings from a recent investigation undertaken by the Keep Me Posted campaign.
Currently, many telecoms and media providers are charging customers who can’t go online or chose to receive their bills on paper up to £1.90 for a monthly statement – with the average cost to customers being £1.67*. Often, businesses cite the costs of producing and posting statements as justification for these charges.
The Keep Me Posted campaign has worked with GI Solutions, one of the UK’s premier producers of transactional mail to ascertain the real cost of a paper bill. The findings show that, a high volume mailing of a typical bill or statement is expected to cost a service provider around 35p per individual mail pack. This rises to up to 65p for lower volume mailings. These estimated costs have also been corroborated by service providers working with the Keep Me Posted campaign to protect the consumer’s right to choose how they are communicated with.
In addition, for more ad-hoc requests such as duplicate bank statements the charges are around £5 per statement and in some cases more.
Judith Donovan CBE, Chair of the Keep Me Posted campaign, said: “Until recently, big business quite rightly considered paper bills and statements the preferred means of communicating important financial and other information to customers. The figures we have uncovered as part of our investigation indicate that some companies now feel that not only can they pass on the cost to their customers but they can actually profit from inflated charges at the customer’s expense.”
In addition to charges, there is an increased trend in service providers automatically moving customers online, often without their expressed consent.
While many people may be happy to manage their affairs online, online account management is not always suitable for a large proportion of UK consumers. Government figures show that there are almost seven million people who have never used the internet, and a BBC/MORI poll this year, showed that a there are 11 million who lack basic computer skills. For many, the move to online only services is hindering their ability to manage their money, with many people finding it much easier to keep track of their finances using paper bills and statements.
Jill Ypey National Chair of the National Federation of Occupational Pensioners said: “For some people, being online isn’t an option. In addition, even if someone has a computer, broadband can cost as much as £20 a month. For some people, particularly the older and more vulnerable, that can be the difference between having a cooked meal twice a week or having their room heated for a few days. In an average year you could be asking someone to give up two weeks of their basic state pension.”
Figures (35p -65p) are based on standard mailings of bills or statements. High volume mailings include mailings of 1 million or more
*£1.67 representative of the average cost of a paper bill from the UK’s main telecoms providers.
Other Sectors where charges/discounts for paper apply include:
Energy, where more and more people are being migrated online and often there is a discount of £5 or more for online only management.
Insurance, where providers are increasingly moving people online or charging for paper copies of documentation.
Companies who have adopted the Keep Me Posted Pledge include:
Principality Building Society