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Getting a bill in the mail will now cost you

Posted by: under Buyer beware Updated: September 2, 2009 - 12:07 PM

By Lora Pabst

Should you have to pay to get your bills the old-fashioned way, through the mail? That's what a growing number of companies are deciding, in their effort to force customers to get their bills online and thus save money on mailing. Not everyone is thrilled about this trend.

When Julie Haekenkamp opened her bill from Waste Management last month, she was surprised to see a $3 administrative fee on her account. Enclosed was a brochure describing a new company practice: customers who don’t switch to online, “paperless” billing will be charged $3 for each invoice.

Plenty of companies have offered discounts or promised to plant a tree in your name if you pay your bills online. But recently, an increasing number of companies will actually charge you if you don’t. T-Mobile just announced a $1.50 fee for customers who still want a bill sent in the mail. Whistleblower has received several tips from readers who are upset about what they consider a forced online bill payment.  
“No other company has asked me to do this,” said Haekenkamp, a former U.S. postal service worker. “There are ones who want me to, but they don’t require it.”
According to the brochure Haekenkamp received, Waste Management made the decision after reviewing “the costs and tasks associated with printing and mailing paper invoices, processing manual payments and maintaining customer accounts…”
Haekenkamp and other Whistleblower readers raised an important question.
“What about people who don’t have a computer?” she asked. “Is that fair to charge you $3 for not having a computer?”
When Haekenkamp called Waste Management to complain, they agreed to take the charge off of her bill. While Haekenkamp acknowledges that she could take her business elsewhere, she said businesses like Waste Management require contracts that have hefty cancellation fees.
Whistleblower wants to know what you think about these fees. While most people would probably agree that going “paperless” isn’t a bad thing, do you think companies should be able to charge you if you don’t?

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