FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 6, 2012
CARP calls on cable and utility companies to drop fees for paper bills, unfair cost on seniors, CARP members would move business if they could: Poll
Toronto, ON: CARP is calling on utility and cable companies to reverse their current policy of charging extra for a paper bill if the customer does not switch to an online bill. Those on fixed income, not online or uncomfortable with online commerce are doubly disadvantaged. The vast majority of CARP members polled oppose the extra charges and would move their business if these services were not monopolies.
“CARP members reject the fees for paper bills – both on behalf of those who can’t afford it or don’t want to handle their affairs online – but also on principle. The vast majority would move their business but in most cases, they can’t because these companies have a monopoly or it would mean disrupting all their personal arrangements. Why should people be put to this personal cost when the companies can well afford to give people an option rather than no choice?” said Susan Eng, VP, Advocacy for CARP.
The vast majority (75%) of CARP members reject additional charges for access to paper bills, according to 4,700 CARP members responding to the CARP Poll™. http://www.carp.ca/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/Senior-Discounts-reportNEW.pdf
Almost two-thirds (60%) of CARP members are ready to take their business elsewhere to protest the additional charges for paper bills – if they could, even at great inconvenience. However, major utilities like phone and cable TV services are the sole provider of certain services [land lines] or in a certain area [cable TV].
CARP is concerned that these fees will add up for low income seniors and disadvantage those without internet access. Several companies have started to charge these fees and other companies are said to be watching developments.
“There are so many who are already struggling to pay the bills themselves without the added burden of an unfair fee for a paper bill. The service providers should reverse this trend now – it’s not only the people directly hurt by this change but also the many more who are watching and ready to act in protest – with their business” added Eng.
CARP has received many calls of concern from our members about the new fees for paper bills and statements from a variety of service providers. Internet, phone, and/or utility service providers and some banks have recently started to charge their customers $2 per mailed paper bill or statement in an attempt to encourage customers to switch to online billing. CARP members are concerned that:
- Low income and fixed income seniors already face financial hardship and are most likely to be without computer access, placing a greater burden on them.
- Many seniors still lack computer literacy skills and/or do not have access to a computer and internet, making it difficult or impossible to switch to paperless billing.
- Like many Canadians, many seniors are still uncomfortable receiving or paying bills online
- The $2 per bill can add up for low income seniors who already face financial challenges. Several bills per month can add up to $10 dollar or more, on top of the actual bills.
- Fees may be temporarily waived under “hardship” circumstances when a complaint is made, but not all seniors will know to complain of hardship and many may not be able make a formal complaint due to language barriers.
CARP is a national, non-partisan, non-profit organization committed to advocating for a New Vision of Aging for Canada, social change that will bring financial security, equitable access to health care and freedom from discrimination. CARP seeks to ensure that the marketplace serves the needs and expectations of our generation and provides value-added benefits, products and services to our members. Through our network of chapters across Canada, CARP is dedicated to building a sense of community and shared values among our members in support of CARP’s mission.
For further information, please contact:
Pam Maher 416.607.2475
Michael Nicin 416.607.2479
Director of Policy
Sarah Park 416.607.2471
Policy Researcher and Coordinator
Vice President, Advocacy
CARP, A New Vision of Aging for Canada
or visit our website: www.carp.ca