Went online to pay my electric bill today. The website had changed, and they wanted me to agree to a new set of terms and conditions. being the suspicious chap that I am, I actually read them. Most of the terms were fair and reasonable, but at the very end of over 700 lines of prose, I found the following:

By enrolling in the Service, you instruct us to stop sending you a paper bill in the mail and agree to accept for all purposes the electronic bill notification described herein…

A-Ha! Sneaky. Very very sneaky.

Most businesses would love for us to “go paperless”. There is a good reason: they save millions of dollars in stationery, printing and postage costs, while we get a vague green feeling and inherit the costs of printing hard copies. But burying the “go paperless” request at the bottom of over 700 lines of terms and conditions is downright low.

So, here are my terms and conditions

  • If you want me to go paperless, offer me something in return – $10 per year or $20 up front.
  • Storage is cheap: I expect you to store copies of ALL previous paperwork online.
  • You will NEVER charge me for paper copies.

Epilogue: I phoned them up and asked for paper statements, and they were good enough to oblige.

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