Don’t you hate it when you charged £2 a month for paper bills from your utility supplier while customers online get a real £300 a year discount to be digital?
This fee charged to non-digital customers is usually called an ‘administration charge’ or similar. It should be called what it is. A tax.
No you don’t hate it because it doesn’t get charged to you.
You are online, or else you wouldn’t be reading this. So your bills get max discount and you don’t need paper copies.
But the fact is that despite the assumptions of most web users and businesses today, millions of older customers of power companies do not access to the web. Neither do many thousands of low paid workers or many unemployed.
These people are deliberately being discriminated against by energy companies.
While there are schemes and help to get more people online, the fact is that for various reasons, everyone will not be able to get the benefits of the digital world.
Research from ‘Keep Me Posted’ shows some 80% of the over-65s actually prefer their bills through the post in envelopes. Remember the post?
So, this is not an anti-digital message, it’s a pro-choice one. Why should so many people not get what they want from a company?
Companies Do It Their Way, Always
Those on the wrong side of this digital divide do not count, they are caught up in the way things are. And it’s hard to find any business now that doesn’t choose to pretend that everybody is digital.
Most of these firms are guilty: solicitors, accountants, local authorities, Government departments and travel firms.
If you need something, some document, however long, they send it as an attachment and just assume you want to print it off yourself. Or have the capability to do so and the income to finance printers and cartridges!
Etickets have become the industry norm for holidays and flights. Print them off before you arrive at the terminal or pay penalties (Ryanair and Flybe lead the way in this extra money spinning con). Their staff can get very condescending as they rob you of £60 each because you didn’t choose to print your own or didn’t know you had to or your printer was out of action…
The documents covering holiday insurance can run into 30 pages or more or closely typed and frequently coloured small print. They send it to you by email, costing them almost nothing.
You print it off. You used to get it through the post.
Everybody understands it costs money for them to print and post, but they have successfully passed it on to you. What they haven’t done, of course, is to reduce their prices.
The other day in a supermarket they tried to guide me to a self-service till. I asked if the food was cheaper as I was doing their work for them? Of course not. The customer is a mug and will just swallow this.
Think of the Environment
Don’t you hate it when they say some pious nonsense like ‘think before you print this email…” or in the spirit of some pseudo wartime austerity, ‘is it really necessary to print this message?’ Save the environment they say, don’t print off so much, you naughty boy.
If it has to be printed to gain access to what you’ve paid for, it’s printed and to hell with the environment. The difference is that the customer prints it all and the company can burnish its green credentials.
Time for a fightback. If you want a report, ticket to a cinema, receipt for something, legal document … demand a paper one be posted to you.
It won’t harm the environment, will help the postal services and save the NHS money in reducing your blood pressure.
Blogs that may feed your anger too:
Last Post for Britain’s Post? 21 June 2012
The ‘Net Generation’ v ‘Silver Surfers’ Myth, 16 May 2012
End of the World Wide Web? 23 April 2012