Submitted by: Matthew Robson September 23, 2020
In general, people need reminding to pay for things.
These people, like us, are customers of banks, retailers, insurance companies, municipalities and the broader government service providers such as vehicle licencing departments, the SABC and the Revenue Service, as examples.
Traditionally, these customers would receive invoices, bank statements and notices reminding them of who to pay and when.
In the clamour to embrace the 4th Industrial Revolution have we forgotten that these people are customers? Is our corporate and government drive for cost saving by digitising everything possible, forgetting that many people do not have access to the internet of things and deserve to be communicated with in a medium of their choice?
The reminders that your car licence is about to expire, your TV licence needs renewal, your clothing store account or your credit card company needs payment seem to have been lost in rude SMS’s, call centre operators, emails, debt collection agencies and traffic officials eager to spot fine an expired licence.
With growing concern around internet fraud, fake news and personal data privacy, many customers are concerned about opening digital messages. Is this real or is it fake?
If we, as consumers and customers feel aggrieved, we are not alone. Recent international and South African research reveals that many of us prefer and need important information in print. Corporates and government are taking this choice away by unilaterally stopping printed communication in the post.
A typical example is Mr A who lives in Johannesburg. Although he opted in to receive his monthly rates, electricity and water bill in the post, this never happens. Nor does he receive email statements. He is forced to log on to the city website to download his account only to find that he needs a pin number to access his account. This pin number is only found on a printed statement which he does not receive. It is little wonder why the culture of non-payment for city services is so rife.
The national broadcaster, so desperate for TV licence revenue, now advertises on the radio that customers now need to send an SMS to find out what they owe and when to pay. Surely not a way to encourage a customer to pay?
To receive a posted bank statement, we are now charged R30 per month, an amount far exceeding the cost of a letter, envelope and stamp!
Are we, as consumers prepared to join the “keep me posted” movement so successful now around the world?
Paper is a sustainable, renewable and recyclable communication medium.