Duncan Wilcock

duncan@wilcock.ca
T: +1 (604) 379 0224

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Thoughts on Paperless Billing


An Open Letter to Utilities, Cable & Phone Companies, Banks, etc.


I'm a bit of a greenie, and very much an early-adopting pro-computer sort of person. I really want to be a big user - even a proponent of online billing, but the systems I have tried over the years have been ultimately unsatisfactory for me. As a result I usually pay an extra $2 a month to have a paper statement snail-mailed to me.

I still wish to become a user - a fan even - of online billing, so I've decided to write down the top 3 items on my wish-list:


  1. Email me a PDF
  2. Let me subscribe to the electronic and printed statement at the same time
  3. I want an option to have you print and mail me a copy once ever three months
    (or every 6 months, or even every 12 months)


Email me a PDF


There are security risks to emailing PDFs, and that's likely why most companies implement the "click-to-follow-a-link" process.

Except that I don't care.

Figure out what you have to do so that emailing me a PDF is safe.  XXX out the account number and the mailing address or whatever other information you deem sensitive.  Change your company security practices so that the useful information that I want - like what the amount owing each month is no longer sensitive information.  I just want to monitor my bills on a monthly basis, without having to go to your website every time I do that.  That will always take too many clicks.

Apple emails me a PDF receipt when I visit their store, there must be a way for you to do this too.


Let me subscribe to the electronic and printed statement at the same time


Most systems I have seen present me an either or option - online only or paper only.  I appreciate that you do this as a nudge to get me off the paper option - however, poor experience with online billing systems has made me cautious - a little jaded even.

If you want me to try it out, you're going to have to let me have both options.  Nag me again in a year if you need to, but I'm not going to try your new system out unless I have the old paper based system to fall back on.


I want an option to have you print and mail me a copy once ever three months (or every 6 months, or even every 12 months)


If you don't like doing the printing runs once a month, wouldn't once a quarter be less onerous for you?  You could concatenate bills and save on some paper, as well as reduce your postage charges.  If your electronic option is solid, and allows me keep informed, then I only need printed copies for my tax records.  Just print them out and mail them to me in a bundle at tax time, and that would be a great service.  I'd even say thank you!



Who am I talking about?


The Canadian companies that I interact with and I can think I have not liked their paperless billing options are: Rogers, Telus, Koodo, Shaw, and Bell.  My banks & credit card companies, who I'd rather not reveal on my blog - but they are 4 of the major banks in Canada.

Worth offering some praise to is BC Hydro's residential billing - they do allow you to subscribe to both online and paper billing.  Commercial billing unfortunately doesn't offer this option, but here's hoping that it will in future!