CRTC to Hold Discussions with Telcos Over Charging Fees for Paper Billing

The CRTC has announced today it will hold meetings with telcos to discuss the practice of charging fees for paper billing for customers that choose to receive paper bills, as it is “concerned” the approach taken by companies transitioning to electronic billing possibly does not meet all the “specific circumstances of some Canadians.”

A fact-finding exercise by the CRTC revealed the following:

  • As of November 2013, 36 companies indicated that they do not charge any fees.
  • 27 companies acknowledged that their fees range from $0.99 to $5.95 per month for paper bills.
  • Some exemptions for those without internet access, but no consistent practice across the industry

On August 28, 2014, the CRTC will meet with representatives from communications companies to discuss the matter and to come up with a “clear and predictable approach to paper bill fees” and other possible exemptions.

Jean-Pierre Blais, Chairman, Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, said the following in a statement:

”We are concerned that not all Canadians have a reasonable choice when it comes to paper bill fees for communications services. We are challenging telecommunications and broadcasting distribution companies to come up with a comprehensive approach that will enable Canadians to make informed decisions. We are prepared to explore regulatory options if the industry fails to find an appropriate approach.”

Consumer Groups Call Meetings a “Weak Attempt” to Settle Paper Bill Fees

The Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) and the Consumers’ Association of Canada (CAC), which filed a complaint on behalf of Canadians to prohibit paper billing fees, says the move by the CRTC is a “weak attempt” to settle the matter.

The PIAC and CAC filed an application last fall to ask the CRTC to eliminate all paper billing fees and to refund Primary Service Exchange and landline customers previously charged, but that formal complaint was closed today by the CRTC.

“The CRTC’s private meeting with telcos and broadcasters will not result in a solution that protects customers,” said John Lawford, Executive Director and General Counsel for PIAC. “This approach risks embarrassing the Government of Canada which promised to Canadians in the Budget that these fees will be eliminated, not just managed.”

Rogers, Telus and Bell all charge $2 for paper billing

Rogers says the paper invoice fee will be donated to youth education initiatives, while Bell says the fee is to “offset the costs of producing and mailing a printed bill.” Telus says for those clients switching to paper billing, they will “donate $2 to the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC).”

Are you receiving paper or electronic billing? Should telcos charge fees for paper billing or is that just the cost of doing business?

Founder and Editor-in-Chief of iPhoneinCanada.ca. Follow me on Twitter, and @iPhoneinCanada, and on Google+.

  • Chrome262

    Gotten rid of all my paper bills, sick of shredding stuff, but yeah I think charging for paper copies is crappy

  • Al

    As much as I hate to see the charge, it make sense. It’s just a cost of doing business and, instead of adding the cost to the actual service (ex: cell phone service charge) they separate it out as an itemized cost.

    This is actually a good thing. If they didn’t do that, then they would need to incorporate a similar (perhaps slightly less) cost into each service. So, if you have 3 services with Bell, for example, you may end up paying more than the $2 if an added cost is added to each basic service charge.

    The companies could do that, and then offer a $2 discount if you subscribe to paperless billing. So, in that situation, you’re still possibly paying more because of an added cost to each service. Yet, with it being offered as a discount, the CRTC, or anyone else, has nothing to complain about, since it is no longer an apparent “added charge”.

    In other words, it’s stupid to whine about this.

  • Old lady

    What is most crazy is Bell still charges Touch Tone fees on landlines….

  • FragilityG4

    They never charged for paper before enviro armageddon … It’s just good business to take a trending social issue and exploite it. Nothing more.

  • SV650

    Telusmobility has previously stated the $2 fee does not apply to their customers who do not subscribe to internet services. This is pretty small potatoes. If I recall, it started as a discount, and could return as such, removing the complaints it is an added cost.

  • GreenMush

    This is the one fee that I think make sense. Save some trees. What do you do with your paper bills anyways? Go online and check your bill! Moving on.

  • I’m all for getting digital bills as it definitely saves paper.

    The issue here seems to be those who don’t have access to internet or computers to receive electronic billing. Their position is they have no choice but to pay the fee, which could be seen as unfair.

  • ????Dennis

    Right on point.

  • pegger1

    Then why wasn’t there a $2 discount when I went paperless? Instead they went and charged extra to continue with paper. It’s a cash grab.

  • Flow

    Exactly! Thank you!

    Also everyone needs to understand what a bill is, by law definition it is required to pay. No bill, no pay! There cannot be a fee for a bill otherwise it would require a bill to pay it! Nonsense!

  • Jason

    You shouldn’t be charged to receive an invoice. Could you imagine if all retailers adopted this? $2 for a receipt.

  • Al

    I don’t know where you dreamed up that law, but it is incorrect.

  • Al

    Because, as I said, they didn’t go that route. That went the “added charge” route instead, which is actually better for the consumer than building the cost increase into each service they provide.

  • Al

    That’s just paranoia. Let me make it simple. As has happened since the dawn of time… costs increase. Those costs are passed on to the consumer by increase the price of a good or service. But in THIS case, the cost increase is added on as a separate item. And TO OUR BENEFIT, it is being added only once, instead of being built in to each service that the company provides. There is no reason to bitch about it.

  • Al

    Numbnuts… Postage and personel and equipment and paper… all of those things cost money. A cost that INCREASES over time. How, on earth, can you compare that to a paper receipt?!?! Dumb… just DUMB

  • Al

    Also… businesses. I need my paper bills for tax time. I have no desire to print out ALL my bills every month. Send me the paper bills. It makes my life easier.

  • FragilityG4

    And it’s that thinking that allows them to cash grab from us on a regular basis … Everything is worth bitching about when it comes to telecoms ripping us off … And they are don’t kid yourself.

  • Flow

    Al, unless you are just being a troll I would suggest you know what you are talking about before being arrogant and wrong.

    Unless of course you can show me the article in the commercial law that defines a bill as a billable item…

  • Al

    You show me the law where a customer does not need to pay if they don’t receive a bill. Further… Your concept of “there cannot be a fee for a bill…” blah, blah, blah… Is bizarre enough to make me think you aren’t playing with a full deck.

  • Al

    Yes, they rip us off. But when you bitch about nonsensical little things that aren’t qualified to bitch about, then you lose credibility when you bitch about something that is legitimately worth bitching about.

  • Flow

    ?
    Search and learn buddy!

  • Al

    Common knowledge (except foe you, I guess)… Even if a bill gets lost in the mail, it’s still your responsibility to pay it on time. Therefore… No bill… You still must pay.

  • FragilityG4

    Nonsensical? There you go again trivializing something that is not trivial. Any and all charges on a Canadian wireless bill is worrying bitching about. I’m sorry you will not convince me otherwise as I you, so it would be best to end this discussion now.

  • pegger1

    It wasn’t a cost increase. The cost was already there and built in. AND then they added an additional fee for it.

  • Al

    Ok, right… So people work for the same wage forever… and the company never needs to repair or replace the equipment that produces the bills… and the cost of postage hasn’t gone up annually… Right… ok… there was no cost increase.

  • Al

    Closed-minded much? I’m providing evidence as to why this makes sense and is actually better. And you’re just crossing your arms and going “humph… I don’t care… I’ll just believe whatever I want because it’s easier that way”. Ok, live in your own made-up fantasy world with your own made-up rules and realities.

  • Flow

    I never meant to say anything in regard to not pay my bills…

    I point the fact that a bill by definition cannot be billed, it makes no sense. And by law definition is the remedy to complete the transaction so it becomes illegal when remedy which HAS to be provided (provided means free) is billed. Of course you still have to pay your bills, but if someday a group brings this to court the would because it’s already in the law!

    It’s one of those things in our busy lives that we “forgot” as a society and it is quite understandable but there is a time to be ignorant and for some there is a time to grasp and realize the thruth. I sure hope for everyone to understand this instead of being arrogant to the knowledge others have that could benefit you.

  • Flow

    Ok, so does this mean they won’t increase their prices anymore?
    Are you working for Bell or Rogers by any chance?
    Have shares with telcos?

  • Flow

    You’re pretty funny Al, just how are you so open minded to call others closed minded?

  • Al

    Your stupidity is astounding. The answers to your mindless and juvenile responses are no, no and no.

  • Al

    Have you read anything I have written here, or are you just trying to be argumentative? Or do you have difficulty comprehending things in general? I already answered your question in the very comment that your asking your stupid question about. Pretty friggin’ obvious, man.

  • Flow

    YOU are closed minded, yet you call others closed minded.
    Being such a troll with much hate is not what will make you appreciated anywhere.

  • Flow

    Blah, blah and blah. What’s your point, ignorant Al?

  • MichaelYYZ

    The cost of producing and mailing a paper bill has always been included in the cost of the service. Then comes the digital age and companies decide to switch to paperless billing. By doing this, they save the cost associated with the paper version, so they should pass the savings to their customers. Instead, and outrageously, companies have seen this as an opportunity for another cash grab. They should have offered a discount for going paperless, rather than suddenly charging for paper billing. Only in Canada!!!