Paperless billing: Good for the planet but bad for your wealth?

Research by GoCompare finds that 80% of UK consumers now receive at least one financial service and utility bill or statement electronically

Paperless billing: Good for the planet but bad for your wealth?

However, the result for many has been increased hassle, lost bills and some wishing they’d never chosen to go paperless in the first place.

  • 33 percent of consumers say paperless bills are more hassle;
  • 38 percent say they are more likely to open paper bills than paperless;
  • 18 percent have forgotten log in details to access their paperless bills;
  • 15 percent say paperless bills are easier to ignore.

Energy companies appear to have been most successful at encouraging the take-up of paperless bills with many of the new and cheaper challenger providers only offering an online, paperless service and even those which offer the choice tending to discount the paperless servicing option. 80 percent of energy consumers said they receive paperless energy bills and not far behind are broadband and landline bills (78 percent) and then mobile phone bills at 73 percent.

48 percent of consumers chose paperless billing because it was a greener alternative, whilst 36 percent chose it for the lower cost. 35 percent thought it would make managing their bills more efficient for record keeping and storage and 28 percent said that paperless billing was the only option available to them.

And while 41 percent agreed that going paperless had enabled them to engage with their finances more regularly, 33 percent said paperless is just more hassle because of having to remember log ins and passwords. 38 percent said they were more likely to open bills sent through the post and 18 percent admitted to having forgotten the log in details to view some of their bills and statements.

More worryingly, 15 percent of consumers said that paperless bills were easier to ignore than paper ones and 18 percent were worried that they were not keeping abreast of their finances with paperless billing. 10 percent of respondents had found paperless bills in their junk mail folders and eight percent regret choosing paperless billing in the first place.

Georgie Frost, Consumer Advocate at GoCompare, said: “Paperless bills have become far more common over the last few years and most of us will have at least one electronic bill or statement. More often than not though, companies won’t email our bill directly, but email a link to a website where we have to login to see it, which is yet another password we have to remember! While it’s undoubtedly good for the environment, it’s not a surprise that so many people find it a hassle and would rather keep the old fashioned paper format.

It’s so important though that we get into the habit of checking our bills and statements regularly – paper and paperless. It may seem dull, but you could miss something important if you don’t, like a mistake, an overcharge, changes to your product or service, or even fraud.

“You also need to get into the habit of checking your current account, credit and store card spending, as it can be all too easy to quickly run up a larger balance than you intended. It takes some organisation but regularly reviewing your bills and statements will ensure you’re still on the best tariff, interest rate or premium for your needs and to generally keep on top of where your money is going each month.”