Originally published in BSA Society Matters magazine.
It seems that just about everything is going digital these days. But what if you don’t want to, or simply can’t?
While digitisation is opening up lots of opportunities for service providers and customers alike, changing the way in which we bank is out of reach for some.
And it’s important that we don’t leave such members behind.
Some people can scarcely remember a time when their entire lives weren’t organised online. However, some of the most vulnerable simply do not have access to such privilege, and they shouldn’t be charged for needing or wanting paper correspondence from their bank or building society.
That’s certainly the belief of Judith Donovan CBE, Chair of the Keep Me Posted campaign:
“The campaign is seven years old and campaigns for the consumer’s right to choose paper bills and statements without charge or other penalty.” Judith explains, “We campaign for all consumers to have the right to choose, but specifically for vulnerable consumers who can’t go online even if they wanted to because of poverty, disability, rurality or age. Government statistics say that is 4.5m people.
“We award ‘Best Practice Marks of Distinction’ to those brands who commit not to force their customers online, or charge them to stay offline.
“We have awarded 45 Best Practice Marks and protected around 173 million transactional relationships.
“We are backed by a consortium of 125 charities and consumer and trade groups, and Keep Me Posted is now in eight other countries too.”
A number of building societies have already signed up – a trend we are hopeful will continue to grow in popularity. Principality was the first, way back in 2014.
Principality commented: “While we recognise that the growth in internet and mobile application is changing the way that some of our members like to do business, many of them continue to tell us that they value traditional paper-based services.
“The financial industry is complex and communication is the key to keeping people informed and empowered when it coms to making decisions about their finances. For this reason, we are committed to providing members with the right to choose how they receive communications from us.”
Beverley Building Society are also signatories to the campaign, and shared: “At the Beverley, we understand that ‘electronic everything’ doesn’t suit everyone and believe in providing our customers with the communications they want, in the format they prefer. Which is why we were delighted to support the Keep Me Posted campaign’s efforts to maintain customers’ choice of contact method.”
Ecology Building Society signed up in line with their environmental ethos: “While many of our members are embracing digital innovations and choose to access their account online, it remains important to offer access to paper statements if that is their preference, and we’re committed to maintaining that option at no charge. Our statements are printed double-sided on 100% post-consumer recycled paper, ensuring we’re minimising our environmental impact.”
The campaign is also taking hold in building societies over the border. Scottish Building Society said: “The Office for National Statistics says that 506,000 people in Scotland have never used the internet, so it is clear that a large number are heavily reliant on paper bills and statements to manage their financial affairs.
“We are pleased to be part of the Keep Me Posted campaign and are committed to providing our members with the option to receive information by post.”
We look forward to seeing how Keep Me Posted progresses in the coming months and years, and wish Judith and the campaign every success.
For information, or to sign your organisation up to Keep Me Posted, visit keepmeposted.org.uk