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?