Editorial: A niggling little fee

PETER O'NEILL
Last updated 05:00 09/04/2014

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OPINION: It's only $1.50, but the extra charge by Telecom to get your bill in the mail will niggle with some people.

On a matter of principle, because it's not normal. Not yet anyway.

What's more normal for companies wanting us to change our wasteful and inconvenient habits is to offer us some sort of incentive ... like a discount for paying by direct debit or online.

From next month Telecom takes user pays one step further. You want a paper bill, you pay.

And that won't go down well with older customers who have been receiving their accounts in the mail the longest. Younger people won't give a toss ... they probably get their bills on line anyway.

You can see why Telecom wants to encourage change. There's a cost in printing accounts, stuffing them in envelopes and printing them out. It's not efficient. There's also an environmental cost. Trees to save (and send overseas) and all that.

And one day, no-one will post out accounts.

But today, that's not the case. We're in transition, and older people still like paper accounts they can hold, scribble over, swear at and file. And for that "privilege", there's going to be an annoying little fee.

You have to smile at the spin the company puts on it.

In the "old inefficient paper bill" column, it lists: $1.50 a month; not environmentally friendly; old school (insinuating there is something wrong with that); clutters up the kitchen bench (true); time consuming (in writing out a cheque - a what? - and posting back presumably); and, get's lost (no it's not, it's on the kitchen bench).

In the "new shiny online bill" column (yes, a shiny bill), Telecom has: No charge; fast, easy and convenient; great tools to manage and pay your bill; access to 18 months of previous bills (you'd have longer if you kept your old paper ones); easy to track usage (easier than on paper?); and goes straight in your inbox (which is the modern version of the kitchen bench).

Ultimately I don't really have a problem with Telecom's decision, and if you don't have the internet or are on dial-up you won't be charged. It's simply the approach, using the stick rather than the carrot.

Oh, hang on, there is a prize draw for signing up to online bills.

Just write your name and address on an envelope and post to ... kidding, just kidding. It is an online competition.

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- The Timaru Herald

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