Chicago, Ill. – For years, banks, utilities, telecoms and other companies have encouraged and even incentivized their customers to voluntarily opt in to digital correspondence on their accounts. Over time however, many service providers have replaced carrots with sticks and charge punishing fees for paper bills and statements.
“Consumer complaints to Keep Me Posted (KMP) increased throughout the pandemic as service providers altered or removed paper communication preferences at an alarming rate,” said Keep Me Posted North America President Kathi Rowzie. “But for many people, especially older adults, people with disabilities, those who can’t afford costly broadband service and those who live in rural areas with limited internet access, paper communication remains an essential option. And others simply prefer paper communications for recordkeeping and security reasons.”
Since the beginning of the pandemic, a laundry list of major corporations has taken advantage of widespread disruptions to proactively assault longstanding communications preferences. Far too many stopped asking consumers to opt in to electronic bills, statements and other important notices, and instead just switched their account holders from paper to digital communication without prior consent.
These anti-consumer practices show no sign of fixing themselves, but there is a silver lining. In many instances, consumers can reclaim their preferences for paper communications, free of charge, by taking a few proven steps.
Option One: Use KMP's sample letter to request that a company revert back to paper communications, and ask that they waive all paper fees. Consumers who have used this template have reported back that their banks, utilities and other service providers were often very accommodating, with paper correspondence restored quickly or fees for such removed, even refunded.
Option Two: Engage with companies on social media, sharing your frustration with paper fees or your concern over having your communications preferences switched without asking. Depending on the circumstance, it might be best to share with the corporate Facebook or Twitter account after direct communications with customer service fails to get results. This elevates the seriousness of your concern and adds to the unwelcome scrutiny most companies seek to avoid.
Option Three: If you have already used the KMP sample letter in direct correspondence and have made your concerns known publicly to the official social media accounts of the company abusing your paper preferences, it might be time to reach out to the Better Business Bureau (BBB).This influential organization has been dedicated to fostering marketplace trust for over a century, and provides no cost options to file formal complaints as well as write business reviews.
Option Four: If you have gotten nowhere restoring free paper communications by reaching out to a company directly, on social media and even after notifying the BBB, it may be worthwhile to contact your state's office of attorney general. As the chief legal officers of their jurisdictions, AGs serve as the ultimate public interest watchdogs. Furthermore, their offices counsel state government agencies and legislatures, and thus have a role in elevating the issue of our collective rights to paper communications.
For more information about consumers’ right to choose paper communications free of charge from their service providers, visit www.keepmepostedna.org.