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Federal minister backs Keep Me Posted

Wednesday, 06 September 2017
By Print21

Federal Minister for Small Business Michael McCormack has thrown his support behind the Keep Me Posted campaign that’s calling for an end to fees for people choosing paper bills.

‘Exorbitant fees’: Federal Minister for Small Business, Michael McCormack

“Consumers, including the elderly and disadvantaged, who do not have access to technology to receive digital bills, should not be penalised and asked to pay exorbitant fees for each bill they receive,” said McCormack, after the Consumer Affairs Forum in Melbourne.

Keep Me Posted, the group advocating for a ban on all billing fees, welcomed the statement and urged McCormack to act quickly to enhance consumer protection.

“This is a step forward for consumers,” said Keep Me Posted executive director Kellie Northwood. “Minister McCormack has recognised that disadvantaged groups are the most impacted and we urge him to use all the power available to his office to take decisive action in the matter and not delay a process which is impacting millions of Australians.”

‘It is appalling’: Kellie Northwood, executive director, Keep Me Posted.

Following the forum, Commonwealth, State, Territory and New Zealand Ministers in charge of Consumer Affairs released a statement saying: “Commonwealth Treasury will undertake regulatory assessment of fees for paper billing with the assistance of CAANZ members.”

As an interim measure, the Ministers announced consumer education on exemptions from fees for paper bills. Keep Me Posted has provided information to the Ministers explaining that those exemptions vary immensely across providers and requires greater rigor.

Keep Me Posted supporters have reported enormous difficulty in obtaining such exemptions and the campaign has been providing letter templates to help consumers send their message directly to banks, telcos and service providers who are implementing billing fees.

“Australians are confused and frustrated as to their rights and what steps they should take,” said Northwood. “We consistently hear that when people try to move from a service provider the only other options that operate in the area are also charging fees. Utilities in particular need to review their practice. It is appalling the way Australians paying for essential services are being treated.

 “Raising awareness about exemptions will not be enough. We believe it is not up to the private sector to assess people’s vulnerabilities. We see great discrepancies between providers, some granting exemptions for people over 60, others for people over 80. People feel that they are discriminated against because of their age or their personal situation.”

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