Posts Tagged ‘Eustace’

  • Two Sides challenges paper-free billing

    Following local public backlash over the Australian Tax Office’s decision to withdraw this year’s Tax Pack from newsagents in favour of an ‘opt in’ service, paper and print lobby group Two Sides has discovered that most people still prefer paper-based communications from government and private companies alike.

    In an international survey from Two Sides carried out by research company, Toluna, 2,500 consumers were asked their opinion on a variety of billing and statement related issues with a focus on the present supplier pressure to switch to electronic bills and statements; ‘e-billing’.

    The survey unveiled that:

    -60 per cent of consumers would not choose a company that did not offer a paper bill.

    -12 per cent of consumers and 20 per cent of 25 – 34 year-olds, say they have switched to a new provider when a charge for paper based bills was imposed.

    -8 per cent of consumers and 16 per cent of 25 – 34 year olds, say they have switched providers because paper bills were withdrawn.

    -57 per cent of consumers overall, 66 per cent of 18 – 25 year olds, and 60 per cent of 25 -34 year olds, believe a paper bill option is still quite or very important when choosing a new supplier.

    -93 per cent of consumers say they are unwilling to pay for paper bills.

    -89 per cent of consumers want to be able to switch between paper and e-bills without difficulty and cost.

    -42 per cent prefer to receive financial services bills by post only and 37 per cent prefer to receive utility bills by post only. For financial services, post is the preferred option overall.

    -21 per cent of consumers would refuse to switch to electronic bills and statements when asked to do so.

    -69 per cent of consumers say that postal bills offer better record keeping and 65 per cent say they are easier to check.

    -48 per cent state that postal bills offer more security and 46 per cent say bills and statements printed on paper are easier to read than off a screen.

    The survey found that consumers are suspicious of environmental claims and appear confused by the environmental arguments used in the promotion of e-billing. Statements such as, “Go Green, Go Digital”, “Save Trees, Go Paperless” can do damage to corporate reputations.

    Martyn Eustace (pictured), director of Two Sides, said: “The Survey shows that whilst electronic billing and statements are now becoming a standard billing method, consumers still want hard copy by post, or a combination of post and e-mail, and there are signs of frustration, from a significant section of consumers, with the tactics used to move consumers from post to e-mail. There is also mistrust of the motivation behind the pressure to switch”

    The survey reveals that billers face a danger of losing customers if consumers are pushed unwillingly to move to e-billing or subjected to cost penalties. A majority of consumers declare they will not choose companies that do not offer paper bills and are unconvinced about misleading environmental claims.

    “E-billing can be convenient however consumers are seeing through the dubious reasons billers give for changing to e-bills, such as ‘better for the environment’, and realise that their bill provider is just seeking to reduce costs. With 38 per cent of consumers, now at their cost, printing all or some of their bills, the term ‘paper free billing’ must be challenged,” said Eustace.

    The survey comes as a new coalition of consumers in the US, called ‘Consumers for Paper Options’ is biting back against the US government’s efforts to go paperless with its public communications materials.

    According to Kathi Rowzie, Two Sides guest blogger, the move looks set to particularly affect the country’s senior population, which does not have the same level of access to computers and the online community as younger generations.

    Certainly, the majority of feedback Print21 received following the news that the Australian Tax Office had removed the Tax Pack from newsagents was from retirees unable to go online to order a copy of the publication.