Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Pay to pay? No way, says MP

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OTTAWA -- Making people "pay to pay" is unfair and needs to be stopped, the federal Opposition said Wednesday, urging the Harper government to ban companies from charging fees for sending monthly bills by mail.

A number of telephone, Internet and other firms have recently begun charging customers fees if they want paper bills delivered.

"Making folks pay to pay" is a cash cow that needs to be put down, said New Democrat MP Andrew Cash.

"It isn't as though these companies are offering a new service for this," Cash told a news conference.

"This is a new fee for an old service. It isn't fair."

Bell, for example, says it charges $2 to offset the costs of producing and mailing a printed bill. There is no charge for getting a bill via the Internet.

"You can save paper and save yourself the $2 charge each month by signing up for e-bill service," Bell says on its website.

Rogers Inc. also charges a $2 fee.

Cash said the "pay-to-pay" fees unfairly target seniors and families already struggling to pay their bills, as well as those who do not have regular access to the Internet or don't like paying bills online.

And he said the companies reap huge savings already from customers who have voluntarily switched to online billing.

"(Consumers are losing) millions and millions of dollars, not for any new service, but simply to continue to pay the way many Canadians have always paid," he said.

The Canadian Association of Retired Persons, CARP, has received hundreds of calls and emails about the fees charged by utilities and even some banks.

 

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 9, 2012 B10

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