Greg Beard, PA billing expert, has been interviewed on BBC Breakfast – a national TV news programme broadcast on BBC One and BBC News – as part of a feature about the growing trend for online billing.
After a discussion about plans by companies such as Virgin Media and Yorkshire Water to charge customers up to £1.50 for receiving a paper bill, Greg explains: “Cost is one element – obviously it costs a lot less money to put a bill online than printing it out and putting it in the post. But the other element is that customers are asking for this. As consumers, most of what we do these days is online. We expect it, and companies are responding to this demand.”
As utility statements are commonly used to provide proof of address, Greg is asked whether an online bill would also be accepted as ID. He says: “Ideally it should still count as proof of ID. But when you print an online bill out, you could change it if you wanted to – so there is an issue there. Parts of the industry are now saying ‘well you will need a driving licence or passport again.’ I wouldn’t bet that a bank would accept an online bill as ID.”
Asked whether it is fair for organisations to penalise customers without internet access for requesting paper bills, Greg says: “For gas and electricity, if you don’t want your bill online, you should be given that choice and not be punished for it.” He adds: “I would like to see organisations doing more to reward people, through money-back or loyalty schemes, for choosing online billing.”