Editor’s Note: CARP has been very active on the “pay-to-pay” file. Over the past few years many companies began making paperless billing the default method and charging customers fees in order to continue mailing them their bills. While the standard fee, $2 per bill may not have seemed like a lot this trend really did add up when considering that the average person likely has quite a few monthly bills. CARP has consistently opposed these fees on the grounds that they are patently unfair to seniors, especially lower-income seniors, who do not own or use computers and are trying to manage on fixed income. A report published by the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) estimated that Canadians are spending between $495 and $734 million annually in fees for monthly bills and statements in paper formats to the banking and communications services industries. Their report also stated 83% of consumers did not think they should have to pay to receive a bill in the mail.
The CRTC recently announced that following their meetings with the telecom industry, participants had agreed to exempt customers with no internet connection and persons with disabilities from the billing practices. The CRTC went on to say that they did not believe this was enough to protect consumers and that they will undergo further consultation. Scroll down to read the CRTC press release on this announcement. Federal Industry Minister James Moore followed the announcement by tweeting that his Government would introduce legislation to end “pay-to-pay” billing practices for the telecom industry. It’s a win for CARP, seniors and consumers!
CRTC Press Release: Vice-Chairs report on outcome of paper bills meeting
OTTAWA and GATINEAU,QC, Aug. 28, 2014 /CNW/ – The CRTC’s Vice-Chairpersons of Broadcasting and Telecommunications today hosted a meeting with nearly a dozen telecommunications and broadcasting distribution companies to discuss charges for paper bills.
Further to this meeting, those companies that charge paper bill fees have agreed to provide exemptions for customers who have no personal or home broadband connection, persons with disabilities who need a paper bill, seniors aged 65 and over and veterans of the Canadian Armed Forces. Companies that choose to charge for paper bills have committed that the exemptions will take effect by January 1, 2015.
The Vice-Chairpersons are of the view that while this agreement addresses the concerns of some Canadians, it does not go far enough to meet the concerns of all Canadians. They have recommended to their fellow Commissioners that the CRTC reinitiate a public process to seek the views of Canadians.
- The Government of Canada stated in the 2013 Speech from the Throne that it would end “pay-to-pay” policies associated with paper bills.
- Citizens, consumer groups and Members of Parliament have also expressed concern over such “pay-to-pay” practices.
- In July 2014, the CRTC conducted a fact-finding exercise on the practice of charging additional fees to customers who wish to receive paper bills in the communication industry. Following that exercise, the CRTC challenged the industry to meet and address the issue of paper bill fees.
- Some communications companies currently charge as much as $6 per month to consumers who wish to receive paper bills; others do not charge any fees. Still others provide exemptions to certain groups, such as consumers who do not have Internet access.
- The CRTC hosted a meeting on paper bills that was attended by Bell Aliant, Bell Canada, Cogeco Cable, Eastlink, Globalive, MTS Allstream, QuÃ©becor, Rogers, SaskTel, Shaw Communications and Telus.
“We would like to thank the companies that participated at the meeting on paper bills. The discussion was frank and wide-ranging, and we appreciate that the participants were able to find common ground with respect to exemptions for some Canadians, including seniors, veterans, persons with disabilities and those without Internet access.
We are very disappointed, however, that they were unable to reach a broader consensus that would have taken into account the concerns of all Canadians. We have recommended to our colleagues that the CRTC seek the views of Canadians to verify whether this approach would enable them to make informed choices regarding how they are billed for their communication services.
We note that the companies that charge paper bill fees have stated that, in the coming days, they will be evaluating further measures.”
Tom Pentefountas, Vice-Chairman of Broadcasting, and Peter Menzies, Vice-Chairman of Telecommunications
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