28 November 2018
Media Release - #2018044, 2018

Government calls on business to exempt vulnerable consumers from paper billing fees

The Morrison Government is calling on businesses to take action to promote their exemption programs for paper billing fees to reduce the number of vulnerable and disadvantaged consumers paying fees to receive paper bills.

At the recent Legislative and Governance Forum on Consumer Affairs, Ministers from the Commonwealth, states and territories agreed to provide a strict twelve-month period for businesses to increase the subscription to their exemption programs. The subscription target is for a minimum of 30 per cent of consumers of a business who receive paper bills being covered by an exemption program.

Should the minimum target not be achieved by businesses, Consumer Affairs Ministers will favourably consider a complete ban on paper billing fees.

The agreed position will reduce harm and detriment to vulnerable and disadvantaged consumers while minimising regulatory costs for businesses.

Within the next twelve months, businesses should endeavour to make their exemption programs known to consumers and exempt vulnerable and disadvantaged consumers from paying paper bills. Any delays or inactions may lead to a regulatory ban on charging paper bills.

Members of the community are encouraged to contact their product or service providers to check if they are eligible for an exemption program, which is commonly offered by businesses to consumers in vulnerable or disadvantaged situations.

The Commonwealth Treasury will soon conduct an assessment of the uptake of exemption programs offered by businesses. A report will be provided to Consumer Affairs Minister for consideration in the second half of 2019.

For more information and advice on paper billing, visit the Australian Consumer Law website.