Guest blogger Judith Donovan CBE, Chair of the Keep Me Posted Campaign, calls for action on behalf of those who can’t, or prefer not to, go online.
There is no doubt that digital services have revolutionised the way businesses communicate. For those who are confident online this is a great asset, offering a convenient way to manage finances, but what if all services were moved online tomorrow? Would you be able to deal with all your bills digitally? For a lot of people the answer to this question will be no, and for a variety of reasons.
When polled, 21% of Scottish people said they managed their communications from finance and service providers entirely by post, the highest number in the UK. Over a quarter (26%) of Scottish people would choose to have their statements only by post if they were able to.
Despite these compelling facts, businesses are still changing policies when it comes to receiving paper bills and statements and, in some cases, even charging people for the ‘privilege’. Worryingly, there is little in the way of regulation to prevent businesses from removing the choice for postal statements. That is why we have founded Keep Me Posted.
We are a partnership representing charities, consumers and businesses who believe we need to formally protect the right of consumers to choose the way that companies communicate with them. Our aims are outlined in a six point pledge which we urge all companies to adopt when considering their approach to communicating with customers. It emphasises the need for choice.
For those who are not able to access online services, particularly those who are already vulnerable, a move entirely online would lead to confusion and fear. According to the Office for National Statistics 7.1 million adults (14%) in the UK have never used the internet and statistics from GoOnUK reveal that 16 million people in the UK aged 15 and over still do not have basic internet skills. This amounts to a worrying number of technologically isolated people who could stand to lose the basic ability to manage their own finances, should companies take this direction.
This campaign is not about people being afraid of technology or the options that it offers us. We are speaking for those likely to be left behind or disadvantaged by a move they are not ready or able to make. There is currently no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to communication and, for that reason, service providers cannot make sweeping decisions that will affect everyone that they serve without proper consultation.
We encourage individuals to show their support for our campaign and share their stories with us on either our website or via post:
Keep Me Posted
PO Box 72064