In the snailmail today was a notice from Bell Canada:
We’re going green.
Dear R LEE
We are writing to notify you about an important change to our eBill program.
You are currently receiving a paper invoice, along with a monthly email notification advising you that your online bill can be viewed by logging in at the Bell Web site. Following your next bill, we will be discontinuing your paper invoice to help reduce paper waste and protect our forests.
If you would prefer to continue receiving a paper bill in the mail, you have the option of keeping this arrangement now and in the future. Simply log in to bell.ca/staypaper and click on “I wish to keep receiving paper bills”.
Thank you for choosing Bell.
Senior Vice-President, Customer Experience
OK, let’s start with “We’re going green.” — this has become the “ISO 9000″ of the 21st century IMHO.
What I mean by that is back when the ISO 9000-series standards were first developed, they were initally the business equivalent of cod-liver oil — they were told it was good for them, but implementing the requirements for certification wasn’t always terribly palatable.
For companies that already had good quality and documentation practices in place, it wasn’t that difficult, but for many it was a real sea-change — and when they came out the other side, they probably really were better companies, with more consistent quality in their products and services (note: I didn’t say better quality, since implementing any of the ISO 9000-series requirements doesn’t guarantee that quality will improve, just that you will have documented the quality — good or poor — of what you do.)
But as more and more large companies insisted on their vendors being ISO certified, an industry of consultants sprang up around certification (and training to go with it) to make it cheaper, easier and more palatable, with the result being that getting ISO certification became a part of the price of entry into the game. I won’t go so far as to say it became meaningless, but it certainly has lost some of its value as a differentiator between a supplier you want to deal with and one you don’t.
So, what I mean is that being green in the noughties is something companies have to do just to stay in the game, and which any good profit-seeking company will want to spend the least amount of money on to acheive the appearance of.
Which for me means that they may as well have said “We’re still here to make as much profit off you as we can.” Fair enough, that’s what they’re in business for — I just object to the lack of transparency in cloaking it with green.
Next: I don’t particularly enjoy having them shout out my name in the salutation, I mean really, how hard is it to automate putting it into proper upper and lower case letters…
Then, the use of the Royal “We” — alright, so that’s a stylistic letter writing formula that I’m quibbling about, but the letter is written over the name of one individual, the Vice-President of Customer Experience. Why not say “I am writing you…” — it’s certainly not as if the whole company was in on writing the letter…
OK, on to the part that really gets up my nose:
Following your next bill, we will be discontinuing your paper invoice to help reduce paper waste and protect our forests.
Now, as an individual concerned with the environment, I will certainly choose ways that I can “reduce paper waste and protect our forests”, but their statement says that they will be doing it for that reason.
Which is a load of crap: they’re doing it to reduce their costs and maximize profit.
As I’ve said before, I don’t have a problem with a company wanting to make a profit and reducing costs can certainly be a legitimate way to do that — I just take issue with it when there’s a attendant increase in the cost to society as a result (but that’s a rant for another day…)
So if they would not be so untransparent and just admit that they’re eliminating the paper bill using a “negative option” strategy (something which got the Rogers Cable company into hot water some time ago…) I would happily elect to not receive the bill in the mail.
Maybe if enough of Bell’s customers insisted the same thing, that they come clean and say the reason for eliminating the paper bill is to cut their costs and increase their profit, before allowing them to discontinue sending it, then maybe they’d do it.
Well, I don’t plan on holding my breath waiting for Mr. Myers to ‘fess up and admit that Bell is just trying to squeeze a few more pennies of profit out of each customer this way, but if you are a customer of Bell Canada and feel the way I do about this, then why not let them know how you feel and just perhaps we can get him to do it — particularly if we all threaten to click on “I wish to keep receiving paper bills” if they don’t.
And thank you for choosing Unconventional Wisdom.