CRTC “Very Disappointed” with Outcome of Charges for Paper Bills Meeting

by Istvan Fekete on August 29, 2014

The CRTC announced in July that it would look into the telecom companies practice of charging for paper bills. After holding the meeting with carriers, the CRTC has published a press release summarizing the outcome.

“We would like to thank the companies that participated at the meeting on paper bills. The discussion was frank and wide-ranging, and we appreciate that the participants were able to find common ground with respect to exemptions for some Canadians, including seniors, veterans, persons with disabilities and those without Internet access.

Although the regulator was happy to see the representatives of 11 companies: Bell Aliant, Bell Canada, Cogeco Cable, Eastlink, Globalive, MTS Allstream, QuÈbecor, Rogers, SaskTel, Shaw Communications, and Telus, overall it was very disappointed that they were unable to reach a broader consensus that would have taken into account the concern of all Canadians.

Attendees agreed on one important point in the meeting: to provide exemptions for some customers. They all agreed not to charge customers who have no personal or home broadband connection, persons with disabilities who need a paper bill, seniors aged 65 and over, and veterans of the Canadian Armed Forces. Telecom companies present at the meeting who charge for paper bills committed to the exemptions taking effect by January 1, 2015.

The Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) has already teased a forthcoming report that put into numbers the total cost of paper bills for Canadians. The PIAC publicly released the report highlighting the key findings: Canadian consumers without Internet access spent between $77 and $102 million on paper bill fees annually. What is alarming, though, PIAC emphasizes, is that “these funds are being collected from those who can least afford it”.

“We applaud those corporations who have chosen to not apply a fee for paper bills, or provide incentives to have consumers switch to electronic billing. We wish for all consumers to receive their bills and statements in the method of their choice, without being penalized for their socio-economic status,” stated John Lawford, the Executive Director and General Counsel for PIAC.

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Written by: Istvan Fekete. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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