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Mighty paper

A story that fascinates me is the case of the IRS walk-in facilities. Given the success of the agency's e-filing systems, the agency wants to shut some of them down. Congress, however, has balked.

And it seems that this is not only a issue for federal agencies. Check out this interesting item from Poynter, an online journalism resource. Apparently some companies are starting to charge for paper versions -- they site the case of MCI charging for non-electronic versions of bills.

Billing You for the Bill
Read this provision from the MCI Web site. They will be billing you if you get your bill in the regular mail:

Paper Billing Fee (GSA Section II.C.9.e)

Effective May 1, 2005, MCI will assess a $0.99 monthly Paper Billing Option Fee to customers who receive a paper monthly invoice statement.

WCBS featured the charge in the "Shame on You" segment. Arnold Diaz says it is one of many phone companies and Internet providers who have been charging folks for paper bills. I will start looking. I have never even paid attention to this one.

Arnold found one insurance company that charged $6 for a printed detailed bill.

This sure seems like a trend, doesn't it. I know here at FCW, our parent company, 101 Communications, recently decided to stop sending out paper versions of our pay checks. (Yes, we get paid for doing this too!) So we can go to a Web site and download PDF copies of the paychecks. And most of us already have our paychecks deposited electronically, right? Initially that was a big deal, but today, do you know anybody who actually gets a real paycheck? Or ATMs -- initially, they freaked many people out. I remember my parents findally agreed to get money from the machines, but they wouldn't use them from deposits!

So are we fighting an inevitable electronic tide? I guess I have never fully understood the problem -- it seems that one should pay for the services they want. I'm just thinking out loud, but if it would mean cheaper phone bills (yeah, right!), I'm happy to get my bills electronically... and by extension, I guess I don't mind charging people who are so attached to the paper versions. But I am an e-guy, so that doesn't bother me. Is it fair to essentially require people go electronic before they are comfortable with that?


Posted by Christopher Dorobek on Aug 03, 2005 at 12:14 PM


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