British Columbia

Customers unimpressed after Telus forces transition to paperless bills

Customers are less than impressed with the forced change, saying e-billing isn't always convenient or fair — especially to seniors and anyone who doesn't understand or can't access the internet.

Telus staff had no idea what seniors without internet access should do to check bills, says one upset customer

Vicki Warner, 75, is in her second year as a Telus customer. She says she tried to go to the Telus store for help after finding out the company was going paperless with billing, but staff didn't know what to do. (Vicki Warner)

For the past two years, Vicki Warner has received her Telus bill in the mail. She liked it that way and still does.

But she won't be getting paper bills anymore as of Nov. 1, when Telus goes paperless.

Warner, 75, says she didn't get a say in the matter.

"I was surprised to see they were able to do that summarily," said Warner, who lives in Sechelt, B.C., with her husband.

"I wasn't thrilled about it."

Warner and other customers are less than impressed with the forced change, saying e-billing isn't always convenient or fair — especially to seniors and anyone who doesn't understand or can't access the internet.

'I like to see it in black and white' 

Telus sent an email to customers to announce the change on Sept. 14. Bills will be available on the company's website or through its app.

Cheryl Keyes, 72, had a similar reaction to Warner when she saw the notice.

"I like to see it in black and white because that's what I'm used to. I know the younger generation is more used to being on the net but … it's upsetting," she said in a phone interview from her home in Nanaimo, B.C.

Cheryl Keyes, 72, has been a Telus customer since May 2016. She says she didn't get an option to keep her mailed bills before the company announced it was going paperless on Nov. 1. (CHEK News)

"I just don't think that's right. I mean, a lot of companies want to go to paperless billing but they give the customer a choice," she added.

Speaking up for others

Warner runs her own blog, website and social media pages — "I'm actually pretty handy with a computer" — so she felt obligated to speak up on behalf of others who might not be so tech savvy.

"For me, it's an inconvenience … but my concern is mainly for the seniors that I know," she said.

Telus customers received this email on Sept. 14, letting them know the provider would be eliminating paper bills as of Nov. 1. (Screenshot)

"I can count at least 15 of them who don't have computers at all and have no computer knowledge and I'm wondering, 'what will they do?'"

Warner went to her local Telus store and asked — "very nicely," she said — what the company expected those people to do without mailed bills.

"They couldn't answer that," Warner said.

"One [staff member] suggested to the other that they phone Telus in Ontario. Which they did … Then apparently they didn't really know in Ontario, either."

Telus says it understands some customers may require a paper bill and will accommodate them, but did not say if there would be an extra charge. (Samuel Martin/CBC)

'Some customers may require a paper bill'

In a statement, Telus said: "We understand some of our customers will still require the option of a paper bill and we are happy to work with them to meet their needs." The company goes on to say it "does not charge for paper bills, accessible formats included. If a customer does require a paper bill, they would receive it at no cost."  

The CRTC, Canada's telecom regulator, says service providers are allowed to change contract terms and conditions as long as they give customers 30 days notice.

Koodo Mobile, which is owned by Telus, eliminated paper bills in May.

That sparked a formal CRTC complaint from the Public Interest Advocacy Centre and the National Pensioners Federation.

The groups argued the right to receive paper bills — at no charge — is at the heart of federal legislation passed in 2014.

The CRTC complaint has yet to go to hearings. Keyes said she plans to file her own complaint.

Read more from CBC British Columbia

Clarifications

  • This story has been updated to include comments from Telus to clarify that there is no charge for paper bills.
    Nov 08, 2018 10:24 AM PT

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.