Australians 'Are Fed Up With All The Charges': Consumer Group

20/04/2016 8:25 PM AEST | Updated 15/07/2016 12:52 PM AEST
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SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MAY 07: A man scuttles past a Post Office Box outside the Darlinghurst Post Office on May 7, 2014 in Sydney, Australia. Australia Post is considering a user-pay mail delivery model as letter operations saw a AUD $218 million loss last year. (Photo by Don Arnold/Getty Images)

Some of Australia's most vulnerable groups such as disabled pensioners, Indigenous people and the unemployed are being unfairly hit by companies charging to send paper bills and statements, consumer advocates say.

At federal parliament on Wednesday, consumer advocate group Keep Me Posted launched its campaign calling on big corporates like banks and telcos to stop charging people for receiving paper statements.

"Consumers are fed up with all the charges -- we pay over half a billion dollars in ATM fees, high surcharge levies on credit cards and now we are being stung simply for having a bill in a format that is easier for us to pay,” the group's executive director Kellie Northwood said.

The campaign is aimed at highlighting that many Aussies do not have internet access, making receiving paper statements and bills a necessity, the group said.

It said Australians who were disabled, on low incomes, or receiving government benefits were much more likely not to have the internet at home than the average household.

Many older people also relied on paper statements and bills, with 46 percent of people over 65 having no access to the internet.

Independent senator Nick Xenophon and Tasmanian MP Andrew Wilkie have backed the campaign, Keep Me Posted said.

The consumer campaign comes after the Commonwealth Bank introduced a fee earlier this year charging customers $2.50 per statement per month to receive hard copies, News Corp Australia has reported.

Origin Energy, Telstra and Optus also reportedly slug consumers on some plans for paper statements.

The local campaign is similar to those run overseas, especially in the UK.

Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) president, Ged Kearney, called the charges unfair and unjustified.

"It is the most vulnerable people across Australia that carry the greater burden and we believe it should be the consumer’s right to choose not the companies right to charge," she said.

"Whilst there are some merits to digital communications, the push for people to move to digital communications for their finances and important information is irresponsible."

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