Paper or Digital Communication: New Two Sides Survey Shows U.S. Consumers Want the Right to Choose

In an attempt to reduce costs, many banks, utilities, insurers and other service providers are switching consumers from paper to electronic bills and statements, often without their consent, and some are now charging fees to receive paper statements. Others are urging their customers to switch from paper to digital communication because it’s “green” or “better for the environment.” But a recent survey commissioned by Two Sides North America and conducted by international research firm Toluna found that consumers want the freedom to choose how they receive important communications from the companies they do business with.

The Right to Choose
The Two Sides survey showed that 81% of U.S. consumers believe they should have the right to choose how they receive important communications from their service providers, on paper or electronically, and 73% believe they should not be charged more for choosing a paper bill or statement. These percentages increased from 2021 by 78% and 67%, respectively.

While using the internet can be a quick and convenient way to transact business, companies that default customers to electronic communication put at risk many Americans who do not have broadband access, cannot afford it or have difficulty using the internet. Particularly at risk are people in rural areas, older people and those living on low incomes. According to a 2021 study by data technology company BroadbandNow, some 42 million Americans do not have broadband internet access. The Pew Research Center reports that 25% of people over age 65 never go online. A 2023 report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), states that nearly a third of Americans who don’t have broadband say the reason is because they can’t afford it.

Companies that force consumers to go paperless also face risks of their own. Nearly 46% of consumers said they would consider switching to an alternate provider if their current one forced them to go paperless, up from 41% in 2021.
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