Posts Tagged ‘Two Sides’

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per cent of consumers and 16 per cent of 25 – 34 year olds, say they have switched providers because paper bills were withdrawn.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

  • Two Sides targets Australia’s top finance companies

    Two Sides is taking Australia’s top financial institutions to task in a bid to end what it calls misleading communications about the environmental benefits of e-statements to customers.

    On 5 June, the paper and print industry lobby group said it had sent an open letter to the chief executive officers of the country’s leading financial companies, to rethink their companies’ communication strategy to customers on the benefits of e-statements over paper statements.

    Two Sides is targeting companies that claim that switching to online communication is better for the environment without verifiable supporting evidence. Two Sides is arguing that this messaging is misleading to consumers and encourages them to not use paper.

    “It is becoming more and more common that big corporations are unfortunately trying for quick wins when implementing e-commerce initiatives,” says Kellie Northwood (pictured), national manager of Two Sides. “As consumers we are constantly being told to change our behaviours, go online, opt for e-statements to be better for the environment, these claims are grossly misleading.”

    Before environmental claims are made Two Sides recommends that organisations obtain detailed information about the consequences arising from the switch to e-billing and the subsequent environmental cost of all the electronic equipment involved in the distribution and receipt of electronic messages from manufacture to disposal.

    “If the major Australian financial institutions want to encourage customers to switch to e-billing because it is more cost effective, then we have no quarrel with that,” Says Northwood. “However, we do ask the major banks and credit unions to stop making a false link between reducing the use of paper and helping the environment, unless they have verifiable proof that this is so.”

    According to Two Sides, the true picture of the environmental benefits of paper is being overlooked by these false messages. One email, with a 400-kilobyte attachment, sent to 20 people, is equivalent to burning a 100-watt light bulb for 30 minutes.

    “Paper is a renewable and recyclable product that, if responsibly produced and consumed is an environmentally sustainable media,” says Northwood.

    The open letter said:

    Dear…,

    In recent years, the wider business community has evolved and developed an increased awareness of corporate responsibility and sustainability issues. Organisations have assumed their share of accountability for maintaining standards of ethical, social and environmental performance.

    However, in the crucial area of marketing and communication, in seeking to gain environmental credibility, some organisations are using “green” marketing initiatives, which encourage customers to receive their bills or communications online, stating that this is “better for the environment”. There are also “go paperless” communications stating that, “paper and print are killing trees and damaging the planet.” 

    The linkage made between reducing the use of paper and helping the environment not only creates a false impression about the sustainability of print and paper but, as these claims are also unsupported by facts, they contravene the ACCC: Green marketing and the Australian Consumer Law. 

    Two Sides Australia, a not for profit organisation which represents the print and paper industries, are writing to all financial institutions and asking those who encourage customers to switch to e-billing or any other form of electronic communication, largely to reduce costs, to re-examine their messages to market.

    It is certainly not proven that electronic communications provides a lower carbon footprint. In fact, with all the environmental costs of electronic communication and with many customers printing out their communications at home, at a higher environmental cost than a centrally produced and distributed communication, coupled with the significant impact of ewaste, print and paper may well be the only environmentally sustainable way to communicate.

    Two Sides does recognise the efficiency of electronic communication and that initiatives to reduce waste are to be encouraged. However, it is becoming increasingly clear that electronic communication and, in particular the energy requirements of the increasing worldwide network of servers which are necessary to store all the information needed for immediate access, has a significant and growing carbon footprint.

    Electronic document storage may be recognised as delivering efficiency but not sustainability. On average it takes 500kwh of electricity to produce 200kg of paper, the average amount of paper each of us consume each year. This is equivalent to powering one computer continuously for five months.

    The term “Paperless” is also disingenuous. An online search emits 0.7g of COevery search made whereas a business card emits less than 0.12g of CO2 over the card’s entire lifetime.

    I would be grateful if you would review any marketing communication your corporation is using, or intending to use, which may include misinformation on print and paper claims to ensure that in promoting your products and services you do not damage the Print and Paper industry and jeopardise the livelihood of the 350,000 people employed therein with misleading statements.

    Please find included a Myths and Facts Booklet outlining the environmental credentials and effectiveness of paper and print as a communication vehicle, and I further encourage you to review the ACCC: Green marketing and the Australia Consumer Law, with regards to communications with environmental claims.

    Two Sides Australia works successfully with many companies and we would welcome a meeting with your organisation where we can provide your team with all the facts about the sustainability of print media. 

    Yours Sincerely,

    Kellie Northwood

    National Manager