Dear Lifehacker, I have my mobile phone with Crazy John’s and just received notification that my bill is going up by $1.10 to send out a paper invoice. I was a bit miffed at this when Optus did it years ago and was wondering about the legalities of it. I have a small freelance business and like the paper invoicing for my records. Can I send them an invoice for processing for the same amount and get away with it? Thanks, Paperlover
Being charged to receive a paper bill can be very annoying, but that doesn’t mean you’ve necessarily got formal grounds for complaint, or to send an invoice to Crazy John’s. It’s hard to avoid being charged to receive a printed bill in the mail these days — virtually all the major carriers have introduced similar policies in recent years.
I am not a lawyer, but there’s nothing obviously illegal about such a change (if there was, lawsuits would have started long before now). All agreements with mobile providers include a clause which says the terms and conditions may be varied from time to time, subject to the customer being notified. You’ve received notification, and in effect your continued use of the service will signal agreement to that change.
The likely reason sending an invoice wouldn’t make any difference is that you’ve signed an agreement with Crazy John’s to receive specific services from that company on its terms. It hasn’t made an agreement with you to pay charges associated with your using that service.
With that said, there’s no harm in ringing up and asking if you can have the fee waived. The mobile market is competitive, and the cost of acquiring a new customer is potentially much higher than $1.10 a month. If you make enough of a fuss, you might find that the fee is eliminated. The worst thing that can happen is that Crazy John’s says “no”. At that point, you’d need to decide if changing providers is worth it (but again, you’ll struggle to find one that doesn’t have similar charges, I suspect).
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