I read with interest Chris Conrath’s article about online billing (“Wait a minute Mr. Postman” ComputerWorld Canada, page 1). I am certainly a fan of doing anything online that I possible can and I am signed up for both e-Post and CIBC’s Webdox service. To say, as the article stated, that this will get the bills to you on your terms is not quite true.
First of all, my experience is that most billers continue to send their paper statement. I find that awfully confusing and in fact, on one occasion, I ended up paying a bill twice. Is that what the billers are after maybe? I found it so confusing that I wanted to revert back to paper for these billers, only to discover that they let you sign up for the service online, but do not provide a means to cancel online. Guess it does create a “captive” online billing audience.
My second criticism of some online billers is that they do not notify you by email when your bill arrives. So if you look for your online bills too late, you end up paying late payment charges. Bottom line is that online billing works only well if:
1. Paper bills stop as soon as the online bills start.
2. Email notification is available when the bill is ready online.
In addition, an online mechanism to cancel the online bills and revert back to paper is needed.