Wednesday, November 10, 2010

charge me for making your life easier

Just when I thought that utility companies might have stopped doing silly things like charging you a fee for paying your bill on the phone (where, one could argue, you pay for the valuable time spent by the person at the other end of the line collecting sensitive information from you) or online (where, it looks like they are really trying to push the interchange fee -- and more? -- to you, dear consumer). Alas, even as you admire how simple things like online bill pay (the trademark, if any, belongs to the appropriate owner) have made it for you and the environment (no need to send printed bills in paper envelopes bearing either postage stamps or bar-coded information to that effect), there are corporate atavistically inclined faceless entities with professional dull portals who announce You will be charged a $3.00 convenience fee for processing and handling of your credit. XXXX does not profit from this fee. The fee enables Utility providers to offset handling costs to focus on green programs such as paperless billing. And this is after I had -- thinking I was doing a good thing -- signed up for paperless statements. It looks like they want to punish me for saving them the trouble of generating printouts of bills and of denying them the privilege of ripping open an envelope addressed to them bearing a cheque in their name. One must thank the capitalist heavens that they support online bill pay without any additional "convenience fee" (presumably for even deigning to honour a cheque that was generated by an automated system on behalf of a faceless consumer). I refuse to explore the irony of going green in autumn.

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