The Internet has proved such a useful tool in so many ways. The choices are endless – ordering shopping, booking holidays, comparing prices, researching everything from family trees to ‘useless’ facts – but using it should remain just that, a choice.
It appears that the answer to almost anything is increasingly becoming “Look on the Internet”. This is fine for those people who are actually able to do so and, indeed, want to. However, there are still a large number of people who don’t have access to the Web, whether it’s due to financial restraints, lack of skills or personal choice. That is why in any situation people should be given a valid alternative without penalty.
Even though I regularly use the Internet for a list of tasks, there are still a few things that I prefer not to do online. When it comes to bills, online versions are all very well, but I have to remember to look for them. At least receiving a paper bill requires no more thought than retrieving it from the doormat!
Of course, pre-Internet we all regularly received our paper bills as there was no alternative, but if we want to continue receiving them in this way, we often have to pay a charge. Although not extortionate (commonly around £1.50), this is still unfair to many people who do not have any choice in the matter – pensioners, those on a low budget etc. The very people for who every penny counts!
Although I opt for some of my bills to be sent on paper, it’s exactly that, a choice. For others it’s a necessity for which they should not be charged.
Companies obviously opt for online billing to reduce their costs and paperwork, but if they could afford to send paper bills out at no extra charge when all customers received them, then surely they can continue to do so for the reduced number of people now receiving them in this way.
As for the ‘saving paper’ argument, those bills that I do receive online still have to be printed off for tax purposes as we’re a self-employed household – and we’re not the only ones.
So maybe it’s time that companies reviewed the billing situation to allow everyone a ‘free choice.
What do you think?