Fee for bills needs to go

I recently received a notice from CityWest indicating that customers wishing to continue to receive paper billing would be charged.

Editor:

I recently received a notice from CityWest indicating that due to the increased cost of postage, customers wishing to continue to receive paper billing in the mail would be charged an extra $2.

The cost of a stamp to mail out a bill is $1 if you are buying stamps individually and 75 cents if you are using a postage meter, both well below the $2 that CityWest is trying to pass on to the customer. If CityWest is trying to recoup costs other than those incurred by postage, that should be stated. Canada Post is providing a vital service at a price that no private company will ever match and should not be blamed for such a price increase.

CityWest may feel justified to claim that this is the increased cost of doing business and they need to charge $2 more to maintain a feasible business plan. The problem with this, however, is that CityWest is justifying an increase in billing by claiming that a 25 cent increase in postal costs over the last nine years justifies a $2 increase. If CityWest wants to maintain this stance, it is nothing more than a cash grab and it reflects poorly on a northern business and has more in common with the business practices of large faceless corporations of the south that are completely disinterested in their customers.

The cost of living has gone up for the consumer as well and it is disappointing, to say the least, when a local company says they must increase costs to keep up with inflation. I cannot help but notice that while CityWest is willing to charge extra for the cost of mailing out bills, they are not offering any break on billing for customers choosing electronic billing when it is surely a cost saving measure.

While reports of economic hardship are heard everywhere, companies like CityWest are trying to save money by bullying customers into electronic billing by saying they can no longer afford to send out paper bills and will have to charge more for continued paper billing. This is the mentality that is costing jobs, not saving money. It is reducing the workforce throughout the process, less paper being purchased, less shipping jobs to move the paper, fewer staff needed to prepare billing, and fewer postal workers for delivering the mail. This means more unemployment and fewer people with money to buy the things that make an economy work. A retort may be presented that electronic billing is a greener practice and better for the environment. For a company owned in the Northwest, this would seem a poor tactic to use, as many livelihoods depend on this genuinely renewable resource that is also heavily recycled.

Electronic billing also presumes that everyone has easy access to a computer. Customers living in remote locations, low income families, and the elderly are all demographics that are much less likely to have Internet in their homes or easy access to Internet. For some, television is one of the very few luxuries that they can afford and CityWest is telling them it will cost another $2 a month.

I hope CityWest will step up to make this billing increase more equitable or, better yet, rescinding it altogether. If CityWest wants to promote itself as from the North, they should act like it and not just blindly follow others.

Cameron Young

Prince Rupert