Author: 
Joel Ainscough, Queensland University of Technology

As more and more businesses impose fees and restrict access to paper bills and statements, customers are being denied their right to choose how they receive important information. The Keep Me Posted campaign is advocating for the Australian public’s right to choose how they are contacted by banks, utility companies and other service providers.

The main focus of the campaign is to call on service providers to give customers a choice of regular paper bills and statements, without unfair charges and penalties, as well as calling on Government and regulators to act to promote the need for consumer choice through clearer regulation.

Have you ever looked for an important statement in your inbox regarding your financial services among a sea of received emails, thinking to yourself “Why didn’t I just print it off?” If so, you may be among the ranks of Australians that prefer to receive paper documentation instead of relying solely on electronic transmissions. For others it's more than a preference, it's a necessity. Some people such as the elderly, those with low levels of computer literacy and people in remote communities that have limited internet access require a sure way of receiving and understanding their financial statements, and many prefer paper copies to electronic ones. The Keep Me Posted campaign is working to ensure that there is a choice between the two, or even in receiving both, so that all Australians have the information they need in the method they prefer.

Many personal statements have been provided to the campaign: take Emma-Kate Francis, a jewellery designer in Cowbridge, New South Wales, for example: 

“It's so much easier to have a paper record handy. I can file them away and they are there ready, rather than having to print anything off when I need it. I also think it’s easier to check for errors on paper, rather than online.”

Others feel the same way and the growing consensus is that there should be alternate methods of contact available. When asked to assess the financial health of their accounts, 75 per cent of those who received a paper statement did so correctly compared to 48 per cent of those with electronic statements.

There is also a very real threat of vulnerable people having problems with online statements. For example:  28 per cent of people with disability are not currently online, and 53 per cent of those have never used the internet. Forty-nine per cent of people without internet access are in the lowest socio-economic groups.

For a list of studies related to the campaign as well as the opportunity to get involved, please visit the Keep Me Posted campaign page.

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