Telus Charging for Paper Billing

by Jordan Richardson on August 19, 2010

September 21 will mark the day that Telus will start charging for paper bills. The company is hoping to become more “environmentally conscious” by saving trees with a $2 charge on the paper bills.

Telus says that customers have enough options to pay bills, from online billing to having bills sent to mobile devices. The extra fee only applies to wireless customers who specifically ask for paper bills.

Some are, of course, opposing the move because they feel it leaves the less “tech savvy” consumers in the dust. By less “tech savvy” consumers, I’m assuming that we’re talking about traditional landline customers or “senior citizens.”

In the case of those traditional landline customers, Telus says that the bills will still be mailed out free of charge.

Council of Senior Citizens Organizations President Sylvia Macleay apparently wasn’t paying much attention to the full announcement from Telus. Her organization fears that seniors will be left in the aforementioned dust because they don’t have access to computers and aren’t “tech savvy” enough to be able to retrieve bills on cell phones.

This rather condescending attitude may come as a surprise to my own grandfather, whose “tech savvy” eclipses my own.

The Council of Senior Citizens Organizations, which has been “representing seniors” for over 50 years now, also conveniently features an editorial on the front page about “the dumbest single scheme from the Premier’s Office.” The article is about BC Hydro’s smart meters. The Council also claims to “work to protect and enhance the many social programs that over the years we fought and paid for, and that are now being eroded by both the Provincial and Federal Government.”

In any event, it’s clear that the seniors the Council are so concerned about will be receiving their paper bills free of charge. The only reason for any confusion appears to be an agenda, I assume, as it seems agendas are part and parcel with the group.

The confusion appears to be working, as scanning online message boards presents a considerable amount of misinformation. Many think they’re being “roped into an extra fee” that will change if they get out of their Telus contracts, but many carriers also charge for paper billing and most companies of any sector have moved away from the archaic methods.

Virgin Mobile, Fido, Bell Canada and WIND Mobile also charge a fee for paper billing for wireless customers, so Telus is far from breaking new ground. WIND claims that charging for the paper billing helps offset the costs of printing and they’re right.

Paper billing, in this day and age, only serves to provide more clutter and more confusion. The toll needless paper billing can take on the environment also needs to be considered. Paperless billing is nothing to fear, even for those among us who are less than “tech savvy.”

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{ 18 comments }

Rob August 28, 2010 at 12:59 am

I just got my new Telus bill Effective Sept 21 Telus will charge $2.00 month for a consumer to get their bill. No problem with Telus new found charge to force their customers in contracts to use e-pay. Telus can make up any new charges they so choose. (as they were going broke sending me paper bills with their perks coupons-talk about a waste of paper.)

My concern here is now that Telus has added their new charge is my contract now open for renegotiation. I wanted to cancel my contract they will not let me without a $280 charge. I have no choice as a consumer.

Unlike other types of transactions I can shop or bank elsewhere if they change the charges at little or no charge. I am locked in with Telus and have no choice.

Where will Telus charges end?

Current customers under contract should have some protection. If I renew or sign a new contract no problem I have been disclosed the fee.

File your complaints about Telus here:

http://www.ccts-cprst.ca

Jordan Richardson August 28, 2010 at 10:06 pm

Rob, Telus and all the other providers have early cancellation fees built in to their contracts. I don’t know the details of your case, but I suspect the $280 you’re talking about is that early cancellation fee. If that’s the case, the fee is actually in your contract for your perusal before you sign on to it.

You also don’t sign a contract to bank or shop elsewhere, so it’s a bit of a different analogy.

Lesley Roberton October 25, 2010 at 6:12 pm

Telus insists the $2 billing charge is a ‘green’ initiative. Instead, I think it is more a perfect example of ‘greenwashing’ (defined by Wikipeia as “the practice of companies disingenuously spinning their products and policies as environmentally friendly…”) Because customers will still have to print these bills for record keeping and income tax purposes, essentially the same amount of paper will still be generated, only now, it will be at the customer’s expense instead of Telus’s. In addition, Telus will be conveniently increasing its revenues by not having the expense of postage.

They also claim that they will be donating the $2 to the Nature Conservancy of Canada, however I do not accept the idea of being charged an additional fee so a second party might make a donation to an organization that is not of my own choosing. And, no doubt, Telus will be receiving a substantial year-end receipt for their ‘charitable donation’, but in fact, those donations have not really come from Telus but instead from countless numbers of customers who have essentially been forced to make the contribution.

If Telus wants to encourage so-called “paperless” billing, then instead of presenting it as a two dollar penalty, they should be offering customers an incentive at the company’s expense. How about doing something for the customers for a change, such as offering a lower price for service if we agree to go paperless? Then they can make the contribution to the Nature Conservancy of Canada with money that actually does come from Telus.

I believe billing customers is the responsibility of the company and should be viewed as one of the costs of doing business.

Jordan Richardson October 25, 2010 at 11:27 pm

Welcome to the corporate world, Leslie. All companies do this, not just Telus. And Telus certainly isn’t the first to charge for the option of paper billing, either. Companies don’t exist for any other reason than to make money. If they couldn’t make money off of something, they wouldn’t do it – green or not.

Jordan Richardson October 27, 2010 at 6:28 am

Interesting piece here about the idea of “greenwashing,” if anyone’s interested, and The Greenwashing Index is an excellent resource pertaining to who’s really doing what.

From the CBC article, “Maybe these green pretenders are actually committing a new form of pollution, contaminating the marketplace with their jumped-up claims, devaluing the messages of sincere and worthy companies.”

BEV November 4, 2010 at 5:30 pm

YOU STILL HAVE TO PRINT THE BILL SO HOW IS THIS GREEN??????????????????

IT IS A MONEY GRAB!!!!

Jordan Richardson November 5, 2010 at 1:14 am

Agree that it’s a money grab, of course, but you don’t have to print the bill to pay it. Telus is assuming that you would pay online, at a Telus store or with pre-approved payments.

Again, this is hardly anything new. Telus is actually one of the last companies to do this. Not sure what all the fuss is about.

cam November 9, 2010 at 10:31 pm

if telus actually wanted us to switch to ebills for the environment they would give us a credit on our accounts if we switched. By charging us for bills they are just being greedy. The telus website says that the maximum donation they will make is $650,000, but telus has millions of clients and for agreement sake lets say that 3/4 of them switch to ebills that’s still more then a million dollars in “environmental” fees. i see this as using the “green” movement to make money and its really pathetic that a company would do this and i will not be renewing my contract with them as i refuse to support a company trys to disguise a money grab as being environmentally friendly.

Jordan Richardson November 10, 2010 at 1:45 am

Of course they’re being greedy, Cam. It’s not surprising that a company would do this, as all of them are and have been doing this with great consistency.

I wonder when people will stop acting surprised at the news that corporations are willing to do anything for a buck. Or two bucks.

Les F November 14, 2010 at 10:02 am

You’re response to Rob’s comment was offbase (a little). He knows that the $280 charge was a contract cancellation fee. What he is saying is that the contract he signed (and me as well) did not include the $2 billing charge. So telus is breaking the contract by reducing services delivered and therefore have no justification in charging a cancellation fee.
I am 1 year into my latest contract with them and I will be fighting this charge. The contract I signed made no mention of a $2 billing charge. If they are allowed to do this then what is to stop them from doubling my service fees and charging me a contract cancellation fee to go elsewhere?

Jordan Richardson November 14, 2010 at 11:11 pm

I am 99% sure that the Telus contract you’ve signed doesn’t say that Telus will mail you a paper bill. It’s not a part of your terms and conditions, simply put, and therefore not a part of your service agreement. As I’ve heard said elsewhere, Telus is not “obliged” to send you a paper bill just because they’ve always done so before. They are well within their rights to change their billing processes to carrier pigeons if they so choose.

That this is an “optional charge” lets Telus off the hook as well, Les. Telus will basically tell you that you can “choose” to pay the extra $2.00 and they can hide behind that “choice.” There’s little you can do about it, although Telus has said that they’ve been making exceptions.

What Rob is suggesting is that his contract should be up for renegotiation now that there are “new charges,” but that’s not the case.

As Rob says, “Telus can make up any new charges they so choose.” And they do, just like Canada’s other providers and just like other corporations do routinely.

One example of this is the 911 service fees. Suppose network costs go up. Because Telus is charging you a 911 service access fee based on its own share of the network, what would happen if the network costs went up? Telus would raise its 911 service fees. Same goes for Telus’ continued threats with respect to rural services. If their costs go up, they pass those increases on to the customers – mostly without informing them.

Now can you “renegotiate” your contact because the type of billing has changed? I doubt it. Telus says expressly that “All customers in service agreements are responsible for a cancellation fee as they have agreed to a service agreement term.” Sounds pretty black and white to me, which is why so many are justifiably angry about the contract situation in Canada with the major providers and why you don’t really have any significant recourse here. You can call and stamp your feet and the CSR will probably waive the fees out of pity or impatience, but don’t think there’s precedent.

You are right when you say that the contract you signed made no mention of a $2 charge for paper billing. But, again, I’m willing to bet that it made no mention of any particular assured format of billing.

Some companies, like American Express, have changed entirely to paperless billing without informing most customers. Like it or not, this is the direction most larger companies are heading if they haven’t already.

Just one final point, there are aspects of your contract that you do have recourse over if Telus suddenly doesn’t hold up to its end of the agreement. If they significantly alter their promised services, for instance, you can probably renegotiate. But check the fine print first, as it’s hard to know exactly what you’re into with just a cursory glance.

Lynda Duncan November 15, 2010 at 5:26 pm

I would love to go paperless but nothing is straight forward……Yes! I am older and I did phone in and was told to go change it on the web site……Got the pin number…..My bill can be sent to my email…..Let me know please, too many titles to pick from…….Lynda

Jordan Richardson November 15, 2010 at 6:22 pm

Lynda, I’m not sure what province you’re from but I assume the instructions are largely the same.

From the Telus website:

1. Go to telusmobility.com/youraccount and log in with your username and password. If you do not have an account with telusmobility.com yet, click “register now” and follow the steps.

2. Once you have logged into Your Account, select “I want to go paper-less” in the billing section.

3. Follow the two simple steps to set your alerts (notifications) advising you of when your bill is ready online. You can select to receive this alert by email or a text message. If you select an email alert, we will send you a confirmation email to ensure we have the right address. You must complete this step before TELUS will send you email notifications.

rick November 20, 2010 at 1:47 am

HEY THEY WANT ME TOO PAY 2 BUCKS TOO GET MY BILL NOT!!!!!!
GO PAPERLESS SURE REDUCE MY BILL 2 BUCKS THEN I WILL GO PAPERLESS.
BUT AS TELUS SAID TOO ME THEY WONT REMOVE THE BILL SO I SAID THAT MEANS I NEED THE INTER NET TOO GET THE BILL SO I WILL BILL THEM 2 BUCKS TOO RECIEVE THE BILL AND 2 BUCKS TOO PAY THE BILL VIA THE INTERNET SEEMS FAIR TOO ME , THEY JUST MADE IT CLEAR I NEED THE SERVICE TOO PAY SO THEY CAN PAY FOR ME TOO USE THE SERVICE TOO PAY THE BILL , HEY TELUS DONT BE LIKE CAMBELL GET SMART WANNA HELP US SAY HERE IS 2 BUCKS OFF UR BILL GO PAPERLESS WILL WORK ALOT BETTER ………..32 YEARS WITH BC TELL NOW TELUS AND PISSED OFF TIME FOR A NEW PROVIDER

derek jay November 27, 2010 at 3:41 pm

I need help to file a class action law suite. This 2 dollar fee is in violation of their Detailed Billing. I have detailed billing and it states a printed monthly bill in the mail.

http://www.telusmobility.com/en/BC/support_services/detailedbilling.shtml

With Detailed Billing, you receive a premium, printed monthly review of all your calls in the mail for $3 per month. This bill lists all calls made, their date and time, and the number of airtime minutes used for each call.

If you don’t subscribe to Detailed Billing, you will continue to receive your invoice summary monthly for free in the mail.

Pam December 5, 2010 at 8:40 pm

So… in order to have a cell phone, you must also own a computer?? …and pay for internet access!! What about those people who don’t have a computer? Or what if you have a computer and it crashes and you can’t afford to fix it for a few months? Some people have the bare minimum cell plan just to have the peace of mind of having a cell phone for emergencies and now telus wants to up that charge so that they can save a tree?? All they are doing is asking the consumer to pay for their paper, envelopes and postage and disguising it as “going green”. Absolutely disgusting!!

Alan December 7, 2010 at 12:53 pm

The new charge for the paper bill to existing customers appears to be a violation of Ontario Consumer Protection act (202) which in summary states : “No Payment For Unsolicited Goods Or Services
No supplier may demand payment or suggest that a consumer must pay for any unsolicited goods or services even if the consumer is under contract with the company to receive other goods or services. The company must have the express written authorization from the consumer to bill for extra goods or services.”
http://www.sse.gov.on.ca/mcs/en/Pages/Memberships_Negative_Billing_Options.aspx . I never requested a paper bill – so how can I be charge for it?
Also of interest according to Nature Conservancy Canada – the $2 donation campaign ended in Sept. 2010 Telus is still green-washing its negative-option bill practices as of my November 24, bill which states for each customer opting for e-bill $2 will be donated to NCC.

derek jay December 13, 2010 at 7:10 pm

I have contacted legal council, and we would like to get in contact with anyone on Telus with detailed billing, and paying the additional 2 dollar charge that is in violation of the detailed billing as stated on their website. Please email me with the subject Telus Detailed Billing.

derekjay@yahoo.com

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