‘Unfair’ charges made to people who want to receive bills through the post were challenged on national television by SMP Chair Judith Donovan CBE.

BBC1’s Rip-Off Britain heard the stories of two consumers who had been charged up to £3 a time to receive paper bills rather than digital versions.

Judith, speaking in her capacity as Chair of the Keep Me Posted campaign, said such charges were “blatant backdoor profiteering” and were extremely unfair on customers who preferred to have a paper bill or statement delivered instead of accessing their accounts online.

Judith added: “We think they’re just charging what they think they can get away with. They actually want everyone online because it’s easier for them, even if it’s less easy for their customers. We think they’re just pushing the prices as hard as they can. It is blatant backdoor profiteering.

“We think the regulators have a role to play here. In many European countries there’s primary legislation protecting the right to have a paper bill. We don’t have that in this country but the regulators could fulfil that function by making a condition of licence not to penalise people who don’t want to or can’t go online. We should all have the right to own how we transact with those companies we give our business to.”

The show, hosted by Angela Rippon, Gloria Hunniford and Julia Somerville, featured customers who had been charged for receiving paper copies of bills by Virgin Media (£1.75 per bill) and BT (£3 per bill). They told the programme they felt unfairly penalised and were uncomfortable paying bills online after people had been scammed.

BT landline introduced the charge last year for landline-only customers who wanted a paper bill. Virgin Media broadband began charging customers in 2009 as an incentive for people who wanted to go paperless.

Other companies charging for paper bills include EE (£2.50), TalkTalk (£2), Sky (£1.75) and OVO (£5).

For more information about the SMP, visit: www.thestrategicmailingpartnership.co.uk.