The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Canadians pay more than $500M in fees a year for paper bills, statements: report

  • Print

TORONTO - Canadians are probably paying more than half a billion dollars a year to receive printed bills and bank statements by mail, suggests a report released Wednesday by the Public Interest Advocacy Centre.

The consumer research organization polled more than 2,000 Canadians and found about three quarters of the respondents objected to being charged fees for paper copies of their bills and balances.

One in three said they were uncomfortable with making the switch to e-billing or online banking.

About 43 per cent said they could recall being notified by at least one company that they would have to pay to continue receiving bills or bank balances by mail, and just over half of those survey respondents said they accepted the charge.

While there are no official numbers disclosed by the banking and telecommunications industries stating how much money is being paid annually for paper bills and balances, PIAC estimates the total is "conservatively" between $495 million and $734 million, plus taxes.

As much as $102 million in fees are being paid by low-income Canadians and seniors who don't have Internet access at home or don't use computers, suggests the report, which was funded in part by Industry Canada.

"We tried to be on the conservative side of estimating both the amount being paid — like the number of accounts the average person might have — and the number of people who either don't have access to the Internet or have access to the Internet but prefer to get a paper bill," said PIAC executive director John Lawford, who added that he'd love for companies to reveal exactly how much they collect for paper bills.

"They don't want to release it because it's supposedly competitively sensitive, which I don't really think it is ... and then secondly I think it's embarrassing."

PIAC, which began working on its research more than a year ago, was pleased when the federal government pledged to ban the practice of charging for paper bills, first in its throne speech last October and then again this February in releasing its budget.

"We were pleasantly surprised ... and it was gratifying to see a consumer issue be stated as a political priority," Lawford said.

"And they were very clear about eliminating these fees."

On Thursday, the country's big telecommunications companies are set to meet with the CRTC about the issue and an agenda suggests there could be a new agreement reached by the end of the day, with a media event to follow.

Lawford said he's not feeling overly optimistic.

"I have concerns that the result that's possible is not necessarily going to lead to an elimination of the fees, maybe a reduction of them, and maybe a waiving of them for certain groups," he said.

The telephone survey of 2,005 Canadians organized for the report was conducted in August and September of last year and is considered accurate within 2.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

———

PIAC's full report: http://bit.ly/1tWaQEF

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Premier, Mayor comment on CMHR opening

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Two Canadian geese perch themselves for a perfect view looking at the surroundings from the top of a railway bridge near Lombard Ave and Waterfront Drive in downtown Winnipeg- Standup photo- May 01, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • A female Mallard duck leads a group of duckings on a morning swim through the reflections in the Assiniboine River at The Forks Monday.     (WAYNE GLOWACKI/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS) Winnipeg Free Press  June 18 2012

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Do you think the Scottish independence referendum will have an effect in Canada?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google