Electronic Billing Proof, Anyone?

August 11, 2011 | By Rakhitha | Filed in: Environment, Go Green, Me, Myself & I, Sri Lanka, Tech.

These days you need billing proof for everything. Good old days of opening a bank account with just your ID and money is long gone. I was lucky enough to have my first bank account and my prepaid phone connection that way. In case you don’t know, billing proof is a piece of paper which has your name and address on it. Without it, you don’t exist. But once I started to work and wanted to get a credit card and a post paid phone connection, it  turned out to be a whole new ball game. Apparently I did not have any acceptable billing proof. In other words, I was a ghost.

At the time, I was living with my parents in a rented place. All utility bills had land lords name on them. All the mobile connections were prepaid so no bills there. Our rent contract had expired. We had signed the new contract only recently and it take some time before we get the new certified rent contract from super efficient government office. Any way, I did not want to use a land lords utility bill simply because there got to be a better way. Bank of course rejected my application due to lack of billing proof after dragging it for about a month. And the phone company did not even accept my application for a post paid connection.

I had to take a D tour to get the things sorted out. First I went to the bank at which I had a savings account for so many years. After some discussion with the branch manager, whom I met for the first time, he agreed to get a credit card without any billing proof. For this bank at the time, credit cards was not their main line of business. Therefore they did not give much credit limit or any value added services.  But one month after me getting the card, I finally get what I wanted. A piece of paper called bank statement with my name and address on it. Finally I am not a ghost. Then I used it to sign up in all other places that I wanted to sign up. My Scheme has worked 🙂

That was about 3 years ago. This entire episode came back to my mind because of this new trend of electronic statements, electronic bills, eThis and eThat. Banks (Actually the nice ladies at their call centers) keep calling me saying that they offer a wonderful new service called e-Statements, which is fast, all green and save trees. Suddenly after the financial crisis everyone want to save trees. And every time they call, I tell them that I am an old dinosaur who want a piece of printed paper posted to me every month. But they haven’t given up on me. I got a call even this week.

This is the bottom line. I’ll accept Electronic Statements once companies can accept a printout of that as the billing proof or sign-up customers after doing a simple e-mail verification. I like how Dialog handles this by giving limited credit for mobile connection if billing proof is not given. That can be a workable model. Companies can provide limited service until the address is verified.  If companies want to save trees they should first use recycled papers. And send all their used papers for recycling. I hope they are doing that already. That’s what I do with my bills, when I don’t need them to prove that I am not a ghost.

Any bright  ideas on how to verify address of people without using paper bills?


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