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 profitable customers.

   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. 


10/13/2001 900