I’m on the go often for my work, which means I end up paying a lot of my bills online. I love the ease of being able to go to a website and pay my bill while on the road, and not having to worry about plowing through all those bills when I get home.

Unfortunately, there are a few bills I need to pay that won’t just let you pay online. They want you to sign up for their full paperless billing system, which they say will help save money because they don’t have to pay for paper or postage, you get email, you can check your account online, and THEN you can pay your bills online.

Of course, how one feels about it overall depends on what they’re looking to achieve. According to this article by Credit Today, not only are there big cost savings, but companies going that route can expect a six to ten day reduction in the invoice-to-payments cycle. That’s big, because obviously the quicker you can get your money, the easier it is to whatever you want to do with that money.

Another positive aspect of paperless billing is environmental, as it helps save trees, cuts processing of paper which helps the ozone and helps fight air pollution. Some companies actually make an offer that if you switch to a paperless billing system that they’ll donate $1 to an environmental cause of some sort.

I don’t disagree with some positives coming from paperless billing. But, where there are positives, there are also negatives. One, many people don’t read their email on a daily basis, and though some people also don’t read all of their daily mail, at least if they see certain envelopes they’re used to seeing they know it’s a bill.

Two, many of these emails could end up in spam filters, or get hung up by bad server connections, even mis-direction. I’ve never NOT gotten a paper bill from someone I’ve had an existing account with, but I have had many occasions where an email I’ve sent to the same place often enough has bounced back because of server issues. Many companies will immediately remove you from online services if they receive a return email, and it might not have been your fault.

Three, when you set up a service like this, you can only have the email go to one email address. With regular mail, if you’re married, either of you can open the envelope. And, if something happens to the person whose name the account is in, with regular mail the other person can take care of it; with email, the other person may never think to check your email account, and that’s assuming they even known all the passwords.

Of course, my overall gripe is not having the option of just paying whomever I want to pay on their site without being forced to sign up for some program, whose intention isn’t to make it easy for me, no matter what they say, but to make it easier for them.

Then again, if we have access to our bank accounts online, we can always use their services to pay our bills online. This is an option I employed many years ago with a different bank, but back then you had to set up automatic payment processing for the same date every month, and I decided I didn’t like losing that bit of control.

I would be interested in hearing how other people feel about paperless billing, and whether you feel my fears about it are unfounded or are at least something to consider.

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