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Customers 'fleeced' by utility firms for not paying bills online

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Families are losing out by not paying online

Families are losing out by not paying online

Families are losing out by not paying online

Utility companies have been accused of "fleecing" their customers by charging them for paper billing.

And there have been calls for An Post branches to put systems in place to help people who are missing out on savings of hundreds of euro a year because they do not use the internet to pay bills. Research by this newspaper found those who do not use websites to get the best deals are losing out on savings of up to €400 a year.

Almost one in five adults do not use the web, according to the Central Statistics Office, and utility firms reserve their best deals for those prepared to make transactions online and switch from getting a bill in the post to online billing. One TV and broadband supplier, UPC, charges €42 a year for issuing postal bills. Insurance firms offer discounts of up to 20pc for families prepared to use the web to conduct business, with mobile phone, energy companies and banks all offering the best deals for online transactions.

Now the Consumers' Association of Ireland (CAI) has said that some companies are fleecing their customers by charging them for paper billing. Deputy chairman of the CAI Michael Kilcoyne said that the public is being overcharged for some services. "There are many service providers who actually use the opportunity to fleece their customers," he said.

And Roscommon TD Denis Naughten called on An Post to step in and set up systems where utility companies could email customer statements to it and register customers online to avail of the best deals. The TD said this would help reduce costs for those who cannot avail of online billing.

Irish Independent