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‘No pay’ fight for printed bills

Wednesday, 20 April 2016
By Print 21 Online Article

Keep Me Posted campaign launch in Canberra

Consumers are being pressurised to switch to digital billing by companies that are charging for the privilege  to get a bill in the post. A new industry campaign  – Keep Me Postedsupported by Nick Xenophon is taking up the fight to promote the consumer’s right to choose, without penalty, how they prefer to be communicated to via banks, utility companies and other service providers.

The campaign, organised by Two Sides Australia, is a pro-consumer campaign and will provide transitional, educational and awareness programs for consumers to choose the best delivery outlet for their social and economical needs. It has drummed up support with trade unions, politicians and mail industry supporters joining TSA to build a strong awareness campaign, calling for an end to companies applying the charge.

Kellie Northwood

“This campaign is one for all Australians who reject the latest ‘pay to pay’ trend from corporations,” says Kellie Northwood, Executive Director, TSA.

The campaign highlights the negative impact on vulnerable members of society. In Australia if you are disabled, in a low-income household or dependent on a parenting payment, an age pension, disability support pension or a Newstart allowance, then the likelihood of having no Internet at home is twice to almost five times higher than the national average. Startlingly, Indigenous households in Central Australia are 76% less likely to have Internet access than non-indigenous metropolitan households and within aged communities only 46% of people over 65 have access to the internet.

“It is the most vulnerable people across Australia that carry the greater burden and we believe it should be the consumer’s right to choose not the companies right to charge. The charges are unfair and not justified,’ said Ged Kearney, President, ACTU.

The launch took place in Canberra yesterday with bipartisan political support, most notably Independents Nick Xenophon MP and Andrew Wilkie MP has publicly supported the campaign calling for review. Labor Senator Anne Urqhart also called for ‘corporations to act responsibly’ in this regard and deliver customer service rather than blanket fees.

Access and affordability of internet services within the home present further barriers. Access to the internet in Australia falls to 57% for households with an income less than $40,000. And the World Economic Forum scores Australia’s ICT capability as the lowest scoring country in the category of affordability for internet access.

“The rush to embrace digital is not the most sensible move for companies. Currently, one in five Australians are not accessing the internet at home and consumers report a strong preference for paper with 80% reporting they prefer reading from paper than reading from screen, that figure includes 83% of 18-24 year olds. This campaign is about bringing the consumer voice to companies to ensure these ‘pay-to-pay’ policies are reconsidered,” said Northwood.

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