Wayne Adult Community Center
Feature article from the January, 2003 Cyberspace News
Not Online? It’s Going To Cost You
If you’re not paying bills via the Internet, it could
very well cost you. Now that Internet transactions have become
relatively secure, more and more
people are making payments online. Companies like that because it
cuts down on administrative costs and saves on paper and
postage. Some companies have even started billing customers extra
dollars for paper statements.
A recent article in the New York Times (10/29/02) reported
that firms like State Farm Insurance are charging customers for bills
sent via “snail” or US mail. And American Express has begun
adding fees to bills for merchants who refuse to bank online.
These companies are setting a standard for new businesses who want to
do the same.
Approximately 60 percent of American homes have computers and
Internet access. Some consumers argue that companies that
charge for paper bills penalize people who are uncomfortable
handling their finances via the Web. They say that companies that
want to get rid of paper are asking for too much too soon.
So how much are companies charging for hard copies of
bills? The amount varies from $1 to as much as $8 per month,
although charges for bills are rarely made across the board.
Companies are more likely to take aim at particular groups of
customers, such as people who are technology savvy or their least
Some firms are, however, backing off a little.
Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and some energy companies will automatically
stop sending paper statements once customers choose to pay online. If
customers subsequently want paper bills, they must request
them. Other firms are taking a very hard
stance. America Online, for example, refuses to offer paper bills.
Whether we want it to or not, the world is a-changing.