Although receiving a bill every month, either by print mail or by electronic invoice, is common practice here in the U.S., our neighbors to the north often receive only six bills per year. But that will change by the year’s end.
Due to a recent mandate put forth by the Ontario Energy Board, power companies throughout Canada will be required to send their customers monthly bills by the end of 2016.
This change was ordered back in April, but the monthly billing mandate is just starting to take effect. The industry shift will not impact certain customers, as some utility services have been offering monthly bills for quite some time. Hydro One, which mainly serves the rural portion of Ontario, has been doing so for years. But there are approximately 1.9 million electricity customers across the province who currently receive bi-monthly bills.
The Ontario Energy Board feels that by switching to monthly billing, electricity customers will become more informed and will be in a better position to manage their expenditures. Companies like Horizon Utilities are recommending that their customers make the switch to electronic invoices, rather than sticking with traditional printed bills. Not only can electronic billing systems help reduce customer frustration and confusion, but they’re also an environmentally friendly choice that can save both customers and companies a significant amount of money.
That savings certainly has appeal in this case, as the Canadian change to monthly billing could cost up to $10 million CAD to implement — and some critics speculate that customers would be expected to shoulder the financial burden of this switch.
When Toronto Hydro switched over to monthly utility bills in September, the company faced a staggering $490,000 increase in printing costs and an additional $3.1 million in postage every year. These costs have to be paid somehow, and Hydro will be passing the responsibility on to their approximately 758,000 customers.
The Ontario Energy Board has said it will discourage the utility companies affected from passing the buck to their customers. However, the board failed to say who would be responsible for the costs, if not the consumers.
This story illustrates both the pitfalls of traditional utility billing services and the reasons why electronic invoices are so appealing to both customers and businesses. With e-billing, companies gain access to an organized system, cut the costs associated with printing and mailing, and improve their cash flow. Customers can easily track expenses, see previous statements and save time; many even report a better relationship with their billers. Making the switch to electronic invoices is a win/win.
If you want to find out more about how electronic invoices can help both your business and your clients, contact us today. We’ll work together to give you a comprehensive, secure, and cost-effective method for your billing services.