Some of us love paying our bills online. If you’re on the road or one of those people who doesn’t pay every bill two weeks in advance, so that you don’t have to worry about whether or not your bill was received in time, this is the easiest way to go.
Unfortunately, there are some bills that won’t just let you pay online. They want you to sign up for their full paperless billing system, which they say will help save money because they don’t have to pay for paper or postage. You get your bill by email, you can check your account online, and THEN you can pay your bills online.
How one feels about it overall depends on what they’re looking to achieve. According to this article by Credit Today, not only are there big cost savings, but companies going that route can expect a six to ten day reduction in the invoice-to-payments cycle. That’s big, because obviously the quicker you can get paid, the easier it is to whatever you want to do with that money.
Another positive aspect of paperless billing is environmental, as it helps save trees, cuts processing of paper which helps the ozone and helps fight air pollution. Some companies actually make an offer that if you switch to a paperless billing system that they’ll donate $1 to an environmental cause of some sort. Some vendors try to hit you with what they call a “reduction” in your monthly bill, but that’s after they raise the fees to encourage you to go paperless; that’s sneaky!
We don’t disagree with some of the positives of paperless billing. But, where there are positives, there are also negatives.
One, many people don’t read their email on a daily basis, and though some people also don’t read all of their daily mail, at least if they see certain envelopes they’re used to seeing they know it’s a bill.
Two, many of these emails could end up in spam filters, or get hung up by bad server connections, even misdirection. It’s rare that any of us don’t receive a paper bill from someone we have an existing account with, but there are times when you might not receive a bill via email for whatever reason, and companies will immediately remove you from online services. Here and there, trying to pay a bill online there are server issues, sometimes lasting for days.
Three, when you set up a service like this, you can only have the email go to one email address. With regular mail, if you’re married, either of you can open the envelope. And, if something happens to the person whose name the account is in, with regular mail the other person can take care of it; with email, the other person may never think to check your email account, and that’s assuming they even know how to get into it.
Our overall gripe is not having the option of just paying whomever we want to pay on their site without being forced to sign up for some program, whose intention isn’t to make it easy for us, no matter what they say, but to make it easier for them to get their money quicker.
If we have access to our bank accounts online, we can always use their services to pay our bills online. This is an option many of our clients employ. Some banks allow you to automate payments monthly, but that might not work across the board. It better to have control over when you’re making your payments, no matter whether you want your bills by mail or are willing to go paperless.
We’d be interested in hearing how other people feel about paperless billing. Is this something you do, something you’d consider, or something you’re not interested in?