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How Long Should Companies Make E-Bills Available?

samzenpus posted more than 5 years ago | from the forever-billed dept.

Businesses 299

theodp writes "If you say goodbye to paper and hello to green, you may learn first-hand that no good deed goes unpunished. Try to pay your final Verizon Wireless bill online after switching carriers, for example, and don't be surprised if you get a sorry-Dave-I'm-afraid-I-can't-do-that reply. Other vendors may curtail e-Bill services 30 days after you end service. And a promise of access to up to seven years of paperless statements is somewhat empty if you'll be cutoff as soon as you no longer have an account. With more-and-more companies enticing consumers to go paperless, how long a period of time should the records be made available online? Should it extend beyond the life of an account?"

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299 comments

if the tax agency comes knocking... (5, Insightful)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 5 years ago | (#26369315)

... i bet they are still available.

My bank holds (for free) information for 18 monts (3, Insightful)

Ux64 (1187075) | more than 5 years ago | (#26370001)

Yes, they're still available... For a price. I just found out that my bank stores bills, balance sheets etc important information only for 18 months. After that I can for sure get those records, but it'll cost me 50 / month (balance sheets). Nice cost, eh. Stock exchange information is even more expensive. So they do for sure keep records, but you can't access those for free. That's why I store everything yearly on my own server and take backups.

Re:if the tax agency comes knocking... (4, Insightful)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 5 years ago | (#26370095)

Well of course they're still available. I called my Discover Card one time to look-up old statements from three years ago, and they were not available online, so they politely mailed me printouts. There was no charge.

As for going paperless, I've not done it because I'd probably forget to pay the bill! ;-)
Receiving that paper in the mail is a convenient reminder.

Re:if the tax agency comes knocking... (1)

peragrin (659227) | more than 5 years ago | (#26370205)

That is actually what I do. When possible I switch to a summary bill, so it is a small envelope, and use that as a reminder to pay my bill. I pay them all online. I should probably download my statements However i am still trying to figure out why would verizon and the IRS. if your using your personal cell phone for some business then you should be making better records anyway for that business.

If your not, what else are you forgetting that the IRS will ream you apart for?

green is banned... (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26369339)

Didn't you read? The word "green" is banned for use when meaning "going green" or the like.

Request a paper copy (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26369349)

Sheesh.

Alternative to online account access/storage (0, Troll)

StrahdVZ (1027852) | more than 5 years ago | (#26369361)

There's some fancy schmancy new technologies called "email" and "pdf".

Why can't the companies use these amazing new technologies?

Re:Alternative to online account access/storage (5, Insightful)

DSmith1974 (987812) | more than 5 years ago | (#26369517)

Because statements sent from Bob to Alice would likely be intercepted by Carol who could use that information to the detriment of Alice. What we need is encrypted email, but since the majority of users don't care/couldn't decrypt it anyway, it won't happen until the process is made totally seamless which is up to us engineers. But since the banks are more often passing on the cost of fraud back to the customer and charging twice to insure an already safe bank account against identity theft - why should they care enough to spend the big bucks to do a proper job?

Re:Alternative to online account access/storage (4, Interesting)

xaxa (988988) | more than 5 years ago | (#26369711)

My previous mobile contract had paperless billing, and you could either view the bill as HTML, or click the "Download" button which gave you a PDF to save. This was over SSL, of course. You could email it to yourself if you really wanted to.
I don't know if/when they'll close the account, but it's now been open for about a month after the contract ended.

If I asked for a duplicate paper copy of a bill in two years time, it would be reasonable for the company to charge me. So, I don't see why they should have to keep the bill-viewing service running indefinitely either.

Re:Alternative to online account access/storage (4, Insightful)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 5 years ago | (#26370111)

>>>Because statements sent from Bob to Alice would likely be intercepted by Carol

So? My neighbors routinely intercept my snail-mail, and yet they've never sought to do harm to me. They just politely wrote "forward" and it eventually found its way to me. People have this false belief that physical mail is somehow more secure, but in reality it's just as vulnerable as email.

Re:Alternative to online account access/storage (3, Insightful)

DSmith1974 (987812) | more than 5 years ago | (#26370199)

I think the point is that unless your neighbours had steamed open your letter and carefully re-sealed it then they didn't get to see your current balance and account number. Also, there's a good chance that the two families which live either side of you would not be tempted to commit crime in the small number of instances that your postman makes a mistake in delivering your mail to wrong house each year - as apposed to the potentially large number of anonymous and largely untrackable entities which may exist in the pipe-line between the banks mail server and your in-box who are actively seeking this traffic for malice for every single communication.

Re:Alternative to online account access/storage (2, Insightful)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 5 years ago | (#26370303)

Most of the time my mail is delivered to an entirely different part of town. I have no idea why that happens, but it would be very easy for that stranger to keep that intercepted mail and use it for his own purposes. Physical mail simply is not secure.

statute of limitations (5, Interesting)

Bunyip Redgum (641801) | more than 5 years ago | (#26369365)

They should provide access as long as one might reasonably need it which is at least as long as the statute of limitations give one to take legal action.

Re:statute of limitations (1)

houghi (78078) | more than 5 years ago | (#26369849)

They should provide it as long as legally required to keep the data. Yes that might be 30 years in some cases.

Re:statute of limitations (2, Informative)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 5 years ago | (#26370131)

30? I doubt that. When I worked for JCPenney I had the task of disposing of old receipts. We had an entire room filled with boxes which were stuffed with register tape. The law required 7 years; anything older was tossed into the dumpster.

Re:statute of limitations (1)

houghi (78078) | more than 5 years ago | (#26370345)

As your signature shows, you are aware there are other countries then just the USofA. So there it would be 7. Where it is required to keep for 30 years, it should be 30. Some countries say 5, other perhaps 10.

Just look at how long the hardware copies should be kept and then just do the same for the rest. That way there is no doubt.

Re:statute of limitations (1)

hattig (47930) | more than 5 years ago | (#26370093)

I agree that they should provide the data as long as it might be legally required, but they should also provide download links for PDF versions, and anyone who might need that data for legal reasons should be printing them off, or just getting the print statements anyway.

Hence it's down to the individual to make use of the billing facility in such a way that they cover their own asses.

Re:statute of limitations (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26370155)

Look, I agree that people should be saving the pdf versions themselves no matter what. But "anyone who might need that data for legal reasons" is pretty all encompassing ain't it- that's the whole point. How do you know in advance if you're going to need it for legal reasons. By that logic everybody should continue with paper statements.

Fsck VZN (1)

Nethead (1563) | more than 5 years ago | (#26369383)

I had Verizon DSL and POTS. I decided to go with the T-Mobile @home VoIP service and dropped my POTS with Verizon. I kept getting paper bills which I would then go to my bank site and billpay. About 4 months later my DSL service dropped and I got a nice check from Verizon for the exact amount that I had paid them the last 4 months. Seems that they changed my account number and I didn't notice so I was canceled. I then find out that you can't pay for just DSL at the Verizon stores but must call a third party to pay with a CC. Then they tear down the physical circuit and re-connect it. They did it wrong (mispunched the pair) and then I spend 3 weeks on phone support and binder hell before a guy comes out to look at it. It looks like I'm getting connection to the DSLAM but then we disconnect all my CPE and it still shows that I'm connected. Wrong pair.

Re:Fsck VZN (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 5 years ago | (#26370147)

Thank you for sharing your story.

I now know that if I want to disconnect my POTS, I should not bother, because Verizon will likely frak it up. Instead I should just move to the cheap $4/month plan. (Besides it's good to have a physical line in the event of power outage.)

Have NAS, will save (3, Insightful)

DaHat (247651) | more than 5 years ago | (#26369395)

For years any time I had a bill, statement, tax form or other document I thought "You know... there is a remote possibility I might just want that in a year or 9"... I'd do a quick Print to PDF and bang... I've got my own copy without any need to wonder 'how long should they keep it for me'.

Sure... the hard drive it's own could die, but because in this horrible thing called self reliance... I take steps to make sure that I will still have access to copies just in case without having to ask such questions or worry about hard drive death or house fires.

Personal responsibility... try it!

Re:Have NAS, will save (1)

nicolaiplum (169077) | more than 5 years ago | (#26369669)

"Personal responsibility... try it!"

Oh stop being stupid with that red herring!
This isn't about "personal responsibility".
It's about transfer of effort and risk from the company billing you to you yourself.
And about companies removing a service that they have led you to expect will be available. This person is expecting to pay their last bill online, like they expected to (and succeeded in) paying their previous bills online.

Re:Have NAS, will save (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26369741)

The company could still provided signed PDF files to download.

Re:Have NAS, will save (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26370365)

Personal responsibility... try it!

And his signature immediately following is a link to how you can help him pay off his debts...

Depends on Their Importance (2, Interesting)

Apple Acolyte (517892) | more than 5 years ago | (#26369399)

If it's a financial document, a record that may have tax reporting ramifications, or some other substantial document, it should be available indefinitely. I can accept having to make a request for an older record that has been archived by the system; as long as it's available within a week or so then I'm fine. But if we're going to rely on online billing and statements, we have to have a reasonable expectations that those important documents will be available for retrieval in the event we need them at some point a number of years down the line. If not, the company providing the documents should, at the very least, let customers know up front that the documents will only be available for a certain amount of time and that those documents should be backed up by their clients. All statements should be available in PDF form for easy archiving, in addition to whatever other native browser form they may be found in. For non-essential documents, much shorter retention time frames can be acceptable, as long as the company's retention policies are clearly explained to customers.

Re:Depends on Their Importance (1)

trolltalk.com (1108067) | more than 5 years ago | (#26370233)

"If it's a financial document, a record that may have tax reporting ramifications, or some other substantial document, it should be available indefinitely."

Which is why you have them mail you a physical copy, instead of going paperless ... then you pay via the net, and your bank MAILS you your monthly statement. You have all the physical copies you need.

Everyone keeps sending me these "switch to electronic billing" notices. They can go screw themselves. Not only are they NOT offering me an incentive - like, say $X off the bill each month - but I'll then have to pay for what I get for free now? Forget it.

Besides, the physical paper is doing my share for carbon sequestration :-)

Entitlement ... what is with it? (4, Insightful)

shri (17709) | more than 5 years ago | (#26369429)

Is it me or are people just whinging about the smallest thing? I fail to see why any institution that I've chosen not to do business with, should continue to serve me for free. If a paper trail is that important, print a copy of the bill and file it, or create PDF of the online bill and store it.

Re:Entitlement ... what is with it? (2, Interesting)

asc99c (938635) | more than 5 years ago | (#26369547)

Not being allowed to see the closing statement for your account is quite a big deal if you are unsure of the balance they want paying.

As ISP I once used had a £40 account closure fee. I couldn't find it written down in any of the paper sign up documents, although it was in online terms and conditions (which the sign up contract said could be changed at any time). I suspected it was illegal to really do that, in the UK at least, so I just put a bar on the payments and paid off everything except the £40.

With paper bills, they are sent to you to keep as long as you like. The e-bills direct equivalent would be sending you an email with the PDF attached. The physical equivalent of Verizon's policy is allowing you to visit their local office to see your statement, and pick up your own copy if you like. But when you close the account they lock the door - if you hadn't been in to collect your last bill, tough luck.

Re:Entitlement ... what is with it? (3, Interesting)

thegrassyknowl (762218) | more than 5 years ago | (#26369713)

Not being allowed to see the closing statement for your account is quite a big deal if you are unsure of the balance they want paying.

I am still going through this with my phone company. They didn't send me the final bill then dropped the account with debt collectors. When I called up to request a bill they added a $5 charge and posted it to the wrong address, after putting me on hold for about an hour. A full day of my time later I finally got a correct payout figure from them; and it was worth a lot less than the lost income.

Suffice to say, it's going to court this year to recover my lost income for spending a full day chasing the issue and not being able to work, for having to avoid getting listed on the bad credit register.

Re:Entitlement ... what is with it? (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 5 years ago | (#26370197)

I have an unpaid bill on my credit report. It's no big deal since my score is still well over 900. Why did I not pay the bill? Because I got into the same problem as you did, but I ultimately decided it wasn't worth the effort or cost (loss of one day's income) trying to track down the payment amount.

I simply decided "If they are too lazy to mail me a final bill, then it sucks to be them," and I moved out of state. Customers have an obligation to pay bills, but corporations also have an obligation to make the payment easy. I'm not jumping through a bunch of hurdles just to pay my final $15 phone bill. Frak 'em.

Now that I think about it, it's almost seven years. Pretty soon that unpaid bill will drop off my credit report.

Re:Entitlement ... what is with it? (1)

itsdapead (734413) | more than 5 years ago | (#26370105)

I fail to see why any institution that I've chosen not to do business with, should continue to serve me for free.

The cost of keeping someone's statements online for a few months after they have closed their account is hardly going to be onerous, especially as they'll have to keep the data for five years anyway. To pull the plug the millisecond the account ends - even to the extent that some people are unable to ever view their final statement is simply shoddy, inconsiderate service.

...and don't play the "chosen to take your business elsewhere" card: many industries - especially banks - have consciously chosen a business model that encourages customer "churn" by, for example, offering significantly more attractive deals to new customers. I'd love to be able to stick to one supplier for years without getting screwed. They profit from this, so they should deal with the consequences.

more paper == more trees (3, Informative)

snowgirl (978879) | more than 5 years ago | (#26369431)

I hate how people think that reducing paper will reduce environmental impact. Trees that are used for paper grow VERY fast, and even out here in the Pacific Northwest, in logging country, I've seen the clear cut fields, but what they don't show you, is across the road is a 5/10 year old forest that is already hella bigger than you ever thought trees could grow in 5/10 years. I dated an ex-logger for awhile, and he told me, "we cannot cut it down fast enough."

If you want to save trees, DON'T WORRY ABOUT PAPER OR WOOD PRODUCTS, those industries cannot use the wood fast enough. What you DO want to worry about are the people CLEAR CUTTING RAIN FOREST LAND in order to grow enough crop in order to feed their family. Give subsidizes to every farmer near the rain forests to not go out clear cutting, and WOW! Deforestation problem solved.

"Paperless is green" is a foul's quest. BTW, I also dated a guy working at a paper mill, toilet paper, and paper towels (even nice paper towels) are made from saw dust... the scrap that is left over from making lumber. They're actually using WASTE product to make their consumer products. So, again, use as much toilet paper as you want, we won't exceed available supplies of WASTE SAW DUST.

Re:more paper == more trees (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26369465)

The fact that you have "hella" in your comment shows how full of shit you are.

Have fun letting your Bill O'Reilly/Sean Hannity boyfriends plow your pussy, mouth and asshole like the little degradable cunt that you are.

HAVE A NICE DAY 3

Re:more paper == more trees (1)

Potor (658520) | more than 5 years ago | (#26369577)

From Kimberly Clark's 2005 Sustainability Report [kimberly-clark.com] :

Cellulose fiber is the primary raw material for our tissue products, and is also an important component in disposable diapers, training pants, feminine pads and incontinence care products. Cellulose fiber contained in our consumer products is either harvested from sustainably managed forestlands or derived from pre- and post-consumer wastepaper.

Don't you think they would trumpet their use of saw dust if they in fact used it? I can't find any evidence on the web of your claim, although I am willing to stand corrected.

Re:more paper == more trees (1)

Nocterro (648910) | more than 5 years ago | (#26369799)

Don't you think they would trumpet their use of saw dust if they in fact used it? I can't find any evidence on the web of your claim, although I am willing to stand corrected.

I'm guessing that's what pre-consumer waste paper refers to; waste products generated within the production of paper and used without ever being sold as paper.

Re:more paper == more trees (4, Insightful)

hab136 (30884) | more than 5 years ago | (#26369587)

"Paperless is green" is a foul's quest.

A chicken's quest? Probably meant "fool", but it's funnier this way. :)

Anyways the "paperless is green" idea isn't because we're going to run out of wood. Almost all paper is made from trees that are grown (and replanted and regrown) for that purpose. However turning that wood into paper and shipping it to the utility uses energy and money. Putting ink on the paper likewise isn't free, and mailing it (in postal trucks that burn gas) isn't free either.

Whether you measure in total energy spent or dollars, it's cheaper to have online bills than mailing out paper statements. Most places let you download a PDF of what the paper statement would have been, giving you the efficiencies of online bills while still being able to have a copy of old bills (and print them on demand).

Utilities push online billing because it saves them money; the fact that it also saves energy in the process and is more convenient for consumers is a win/win/win.

Re:more paper == more trees (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26369743)

Wow, you really fouled that up, chicken is fowl.

Re:more paper == more trees (1)

drb_chimaera (879110) | more than 5 years ago | (#26369755)

(Potentially) More accurately a quest that's dogshit... (Fowl is chicken, foul is something a dog does to the street :))

Re:more paper == more trees (1)

snowgirl (978879) | more than 5 years ago | (#26370069)

Anyways the "paperless is green" idea isn't because we're going to run out of wood. Almost all paper is made from trees that are grown (and replanted and regrown) for that purpose. However turning that wood into paper and shipping it to the utility uses energy and money. Putting ink on the paper likewise isn't free, and mailing it (in postal trucks that burn gas) isn't free either.

Pushing bits around still costs money as well. Plus, in order to maintain their records, you need to have a datacenter up. I don't know about the economies of scale of the two systems, but just saying that you're saving the environment because of less paper doesn't necessary agree. Back when I was a child, my mother did the cost/benefits of disposable diapers vs cloth diapers, and found that the benefits of both wash each other out, and you're best off just using what you'd prefer to use. She elected the less-cleanup approach of disposables.

In any case, you get companies like e-surance than go out of their way to purport the claim that less paper bills == more trees, and that's simply, not the case.

Re:more paper == more trees (2, Interesting)

ILongForDarkness (1134931) | more than 5 years ago | (#26370183)

Utilities push online billing because it saves them money; the fact that it also saves energy in the process and is more convenient for consumers is a win/win/win.

I moved to Germany recently. My utility has a great idea but might not work elsewhere. They estimate my utility usage based on last years usage. They bill me a monthly amount. At the end of the year if I used more they bill me for it, if I used less they refund it. I receive one "bill" a year. It really isn't a bill as it is automatically deposited/charged to my bank account.

I realize a lot of people aren't as trusting as is required in Germany (all my bills are automatically withdrawn, ie. the companies have my banking info, not me having a autopay thing on my bank account), but man are things simple in a world were people trust each other. I get paid automatically, I get charged automatically. Fortunately I make much more than I spend, so when I want to do something I just take out a wad of cash and don't worry about it. No worries of forgetting to pay something.

Trusting? (1)

kurt555gs (309278) | more than 5 years ago | (#26370279)

Well, maybe you can trust a German gas company, but if we are talking Verizon?, it would be hard to come up with a more dishonest, greedy, evil, self serving, mean spirited, and arrogant company anywhere on this planet.

Re:more paper == more trees (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26369603)

Um maybe tree's grow on tree's but the energy consumed involved in making a sheet of paper vs some ones and zeros on a disk should be considerable. Anyhow I'm no environmentalist, I think it is more likely we will bring about our own extinction before we cut down too many trees.
Kinda amazing how fast we went off subject.

Anyhow in regards to the original topic, why not just store a copy of the online bill when you download it? Seriously just because it is automated does not remove due diligence from the picture. Cover your ass is always a good practice.

Re:more paper == more trees (1)

xaxa (988988) | more than 5 years ago | (#26369765)

Um maybe tree's grow on tree's but the energy consumed involved in making a sheet of paper vs some ones and zeros on a disk should be considerable. Anyhow I'm no environmentalist, I think it is more likely we will bring about our own extinction before we cut down too many trees.

Not all environmentalists spend their time on a solar powered boat protecting the dolphins whilst eating organic soya and campaigning for public transport policies ;-)

Re:more paper == more trees (1)

snowgirl (978879) | more than 5 years ago | (#26370099)

Actually, it's economies of scale. Paper costs a fraction of a cent per sheet at the highest economy scales, like bill printing etc. Compare that to the cost of maintaining a data server, the cost of recycling the hardware eventually, etc etc etc.

Really, how many 1's and 0's will it take to match the price of paper? Let's take a single document I have saved from buying a box of chocolates online for my sister in Holland: 76kiB. While it's true that a single bit isn't that expensive, we've got over 608,000 of them in a single document...

Re:more paper == more trees (1)

trolltalk.com (1108067) | more than 5 years ago | (#26370387)

Then there's the cost involved if you ever have to dispute anything. What is a judge going to be more impressed with - the original bill printed out by your supplier, that you have a copy of, that shows you're right ... or a pdf you printed up on your computer?

The three rules:

  1. Get it in writing
  2. Get it in writing
  3. Get it in writing

Ignore these rules at your own risk.

Re:more paper == more trees (3, Insightful)

Psychotria (953670) | more than 5 years ago | (#26369653)

If you want to save trees, DON'T WORRY ABOUT PAPER OR WOOD PRODUCTS, those industries cannot use the wood fast enough.

I respect your belief, but I think you're wrong. Those plantations that grow the trees that you say will supply paper endlessly are, I hate to say it, finite in area. Therefore, the paper they can produce is finite. Now, I guess the other thing you're saying is that they're plantation trees being felled. Now, that is correct. But before it was a plantation it was probably a native forest. Now, those forests were cleared many years ago, so arguing the point now is... pointless--they're plantation trees now. Also, what happens when those areas can no longer supply the growing consumption of paper and other wood-derived products? They'll have to clear some more native forest for more plantations.

Now, the other issue you raise:

What you DO want to worry about are the people CLEAR CUTTING RAIN FOREST LAND in order to grow enough crop in order to feed their family

There is some merit to what I think you may have been trying to argue. There are poor people. People on the edge of existence. They have to clear rainforest to grow crops to exist. Yep, that is true. But why are you shifting the focus onto these people struggling to survive? A better question is (to ask yourself): "I use 1000 peices of paper a day, and toilet paper, and I eat 3 square meals. How many trees do I need to clear to achieve that"? Shifting the blame onto the South American indian who grows a few tomatos and lettuce crops is insane. Where does your food come from? McDonalds? Yeah, McDonalds don't cause deforestation; after all, they're just a little building in a carpark and they import all their beef. Beef raised on, umm, treeless paddocks, or in Sth America on huge ranches. Not our fault. It's all those pesky farmers. They're the real problem. Maybe you should ask yourself why these poor people are forced to 'intrude' into uncut rainforest areas. Is it them supporting themselves or, indirectly their rich superiors, or even more indirectly, you?

Just one last thing. I thank-you for passing on all those interesting anecdotes that your boy friends have told you. But, alas, I think they're wrong as well.

Re:more paper == more trees (3, Insightful)

HungryHobo (1314109) | more than 5 years ago | (#26370029)

Ah the old "it's all your fault because you live in a wealthy country."
There has to be someone close at hand to blame.
It couldn't stop at the shitty governments in south America. No.
It can't stop at the overly powerful companies. No.
God forbid.
No, it has to be shifted until the person you're talking to is being held responsible because he walked past one of the above on the street one day.
Why? because *random person in the first world* hasn't hunted down and shot the CEO of Mcdonalds? Because he's occasionally paid for services from the company?

So any transfer of money now makes you responsible for all evil done by everyone who touches that money from that point on?
Are you responsible for rapes committed by that weird guy working at costco? If you hadn't given money to the store where he worked in exchange for that product you wanted they mightn't have been able to pay him which might have meant he wouldn't have been able to afford the van he abducted his victims with!
YOU MURDERER!

There's good reason to shift the focus on to people who are doing the slash and burn. He didn't demonise them, he recognised that they have a very good reason to do what they're doing. And in the end they're the people who have to be helped if we want to do something about the problem. Going after the CEO of McDonald's might have the whole David vs Goliath feel but in this case beating the Goliath would do sweet fuck all. Another company would step in to fill their place, or 3 companies owned through the philippines would step in and do the same thing and sell on to a 4th based in the Bahamas which would sell on to McDonalds or Walmart or ten thousand independent little bars, cafes, restaurants and diners which are not part of any giant and easy to complain about company.

Re:more paper == more trees (1)

snowgirl (978879) | more than 5 years ago | (#26370123)

There's good reason to shift the focus on to people who are doing the slash and burn. He didn't demonise them, he recognised that they have a very good reason to do what they're doing. And in the end they're the people who have to be helped if we want to do something about the problem. Going after the CEO of McDonald's might have the whole David vs Goliath feel but in this case beating the Goliath would do sweet fuck all. Another company would step in to fill their place, or 3 companies owned through the philippines would step in and do the same thing and sell on to a 4th based in the Bahamas which would sell on to McDonalds or Walmart or ten thousand independent little bars, cafes, restaurants and diners which are not part of any giant and easy to complain about company.

People really don't even read usernames do they...

Re:more paper == more trees (1)

snowgirl (978879) | more than 5 years ago | (#26370141)

You entirely missed the point of my article. Since when do socialist subsidized paid to individuals in order to prevent them from needing to slash and burn place the blame on those individuals?

Please note what I'm talking about this time. I'm saying that the multinational class war is the cause of slash and burn, not the individuals trying to meek an existence by.

I don't blame in anyway those who slash and burn the trees themselves, they're doing what they need to in order to survive. Rather, if _WE_ want to save the environment, we shouldn't bitch about using less trees for bills, but rather that we should be focusing on bringing up the poorer countries so that they don't have to resort to tactics that destroy the environment.

"Going green" is worthless if you're not enabling others to do the same.

Re:more paper == more trees (1)

Psychotria (953670) | more than 5 years ago | (#26370165)

Wow. Good job at arguing against me and at the same time supporting what I said.

Re:more paper == more trees (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 5 years ago | (#26370261)

Your post is confusing and lacking logic.

The idea of looking at yourself, instead of blaming others, is an idea that goes all the way back to the Roman Empire. "Do not criticize the splinter in your neighbor's eye when you have a log in your own eye. Instead remove the log from your own eye first." Putting that in the context of trees:

We tell places like Brazil to stop clearcutting, and yet WE happily clearcutted our forests in the U.S. and turned them into farmland. We're basically telling Brazil, "Don't clearcut your nation like we clearcut our nation," which Brazil rightly views as hypocritical. A wiser course is to fix the problem at home. Revert some of the clearcut farmland back to wooded forests. (Remove the flaws from our own nation first, before criticizing our neighbors' flaws.)

Re:more paper == more trees (1)

snowgirl (978879) | more than 5 years ago | (#26370189)

I respect your belief, but I think you're wrong. Those plantations that grow the trees that you say will supply paper endlessly are, I hate to say it, finite in area. Therefore, the paper they can produce is finite. Now, I guess the other thing you're saying is that they're plantation trees being felled. Now, that is correct. But before it was a plantation it was probably a native forest. Now, those forests were cleared many years ago, so arguing the point now is... pointless--they're plantation trees now. Also, what happens when those areas can no longer supply the growing consumption of paper and other wood-derived products? They'll have to clear some more native forest for more plantations.

lololololol, "plantations". No, these are new growth forests. They are not "plantations" no one waters them, no one irrigates them, they are self-sustaining forests. If we walked away from these replanted forests, they would grow just fine, like they always did, and what are we replanting them with? The exact same trees that were there to begin with.

Perhaps I really should take some pictures of these forests, etc, and show people what "clear cut" logging actually looks like... if anything, for only a month or so, it's stumps, then clear cut, then growing NATURAL trees in NATURE, not in controlled "plantations".

Re:more paper == more trees (1)

Psychotria (953670) | more than 5 years ago | (#26370301)

They are not "plantations" no one waters them, no one irrigates them...

Who said anything about irrigating?

If we walked away from these replanted forests, they would grow just fine, like they always did, and what are we replanting them with? The exact same trees that were there to begin with.

You keep say "replanting" and "regrown". Nature doesn't need replanting. I actually don't know what you're talking about. But in your original comment you said:

Almost all paper is made from trees that are grown (and replanted and regrown)

Places where things are purposefully grown (and replanted and regrown) are, by definition, plantations.

The exact same trees that were there to begin with.

The exact same trees. The exact same trees compared to what? Before they became plantations? I doubt you even really know what was there beforehand (i.e. BEFORE the plantation). If a clearcut plantation regrows into another homogenous group of human chosen trees then.. what's your point? Productive plantations are big groups of homogenous species. This doesn't happen very much at all in nature. In fact it's damn rare.

Perhaps I really should take some pictures of these forests, etc, and show people what "clear cut" logging actually looks like... if anything, for only a month or so, it's stumps, then clear cut, then growing NATURAL trees in NATURE, not in controlled "plantations".

No offence, but I'm not sure you really know what "NATURAL trees in NATURE" really means; you certainly don't seem to know what a plantation is if you're suggesting that plantations have to be watered, irrigated, and with people tending to them.

Go ahead and take some photos. You won't be taking photos of a forest being clearcut though, you'll be taking a photo of a plantation being cut.

Next time I am in Borneo, Papua New Guinea or the Amazon maybe I can take some photos as well. But you'll still think that acres of plantation trees being felled is comparable. They'll just grow back.

Re:more paper == more trees (1)

Psychotria (953670) | more than 5 years ago | (#26370333)

And by the way, snowgirl, this isn't personal. I am not some dope smoking hippy either. I just honestly think you've got it wrong. Which is why I mentioned the anecdotal comments your boy friends (who happened to work in the logging and paper industries) made; because you seem to believe what they said. Note the word 'anecdotal'. Yeah, it's very interesting what they said. Did they believe what they told you? Probably, but that is beside the point. For a start they are biased comments. Second, they were just comments! They were not the results of some extensive studies (or, if they were you didn't express it like they were). Anyway, as I said, I think you mean well and probably believe what your saying, but I think you're wrong. That is all. No offence intended.

Re:more paper == more trees (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26370395)

While I hate to pop bubbles just for the principle of it - in this case everything points to you being flat out wrong and a FUD-spreading liar. It's sad that you are modded '5', because you should be modded 'Troll'.

To the extent that rainforest meat is sold in restaurants, the probability that it's found should be inversely related to the number of stores in a chain. In Europe, there are plenty of reports showing that untracable, stolen or smuggled meat is most highly prevalent in immigrant kebab stores. Neither McDonalds nor Burger King have been shown to have sold rainforest raised meat in the last 20 years, despite them being the target of virtually every "Green" on the planet. That piece of news may enrage you, but it's the truth.

McDonalds has a lot more to lose than smaller meat shops. If even a single McDonalds store is proven to buy rainforest meat, it is likely to hurt every McDonalds store. In contrast, if a standalone restaurant sells rainforest meat, it is likely to hurt themselves only. The loss vs gains ratio is a lot worse than for someone who can just reopen next door with a new name if the old pizza shack fails.

McDonalds is a lot easier to investigate than smaller meat shops. Because the chain is large, it only makes sense to buy meat in very large batches. Very large batches of meat are very easy to track the source of. In contrast, a standalone restaurant can buy it from smugglers or any person that comes up to their door (provided that the meat is fresh). This happens in reality. Meat is expensive, and cheap sources are desired.

Consumer focus groups are also far more likely to investigate the one large chain in town, than independently investigate each of the 1000 smaller stores. When did you last see Greenpeace campagning against 'Sam's Burgers', a burger van run by 52-year old Sam Jones, for buying smuggled rainforest meat?

I agree that issues around deforestation are very complex. Invoking McDonalds in a rainforest deforestation argument however marks you a troll.

Re:more paper == more trees (1)

GWRedDragon (1340961) | more than 5 years ago | (#26369717)

Of course paperless is not going to serve some mystical goal of making the world a better place. However...

Done properly, it would save a lot of money, which is good for everyone. That's what it's really all about.

Re:more paper == more trees (2, Interesting)

Psychotria (953670) | more than 5 years ago | (#26369737)

Trees that are used for paper grow VERY fast

Just out of curiosity, what species of tree are they growing?

Re:more paper == more trees (1)

Bios_Hakr (68586) | more than 5 years ago | (#26370019)

In the South-East, we grow mostly pine:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pulpwood [wikipedia.org]

From what I remember, it grows in maybe 20~25 years.

Re:more paper == more trees (1)

StrawberryFrog (67065) | more than 5 years ago | (#26370049)

Mostly fast-growing, soft-wooded pine is used for that.
It makes cheap and lousy furniture, though. Too soft.

Re:more paper == more trees (1)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 5 years ago | (#26369899)

I dated an ex-logger for awhile, and he told me, "we cannot cut it down fast enough."

Use napalm. Trees don't surf.

Re:more paper == more trees (1)

snowgirl (978879) | more than 5 years ago | (#26370153)

I dated an ex-logger for awhile, and he told me, "we cannot cut it down fast
    enough."

Use napalm. Trees don't surf.

Ok, more accurately, they _COULD_ cut it down fast enough... but they wouldn't be able to make a profit doing it... :)

Re:more paper == more trees (2, Insightful)

dangitman (862676) | more than 5 years ago | (#26369973)

I hate how people think that reducing paper will reduce environmental impact.

Why do you hate people thinking correctly? Regardless of the number of trees available, it still takes energy to make those sheets of paper, ship it to the consumer, and dispose of/recycle it once it's finished with. So, how does it not reduce environmental impact to use less paper?

Re:more paper == more trees (1, Insightful)

snowgirl (978879) | more than 5 years ago | (#26370171)

I hate how people think that reducing paper will reduce environmental impact.

Why do you hate people thinking correctly? Regardless of the number of trees available, it still takes energy to make those sheets of paper, ship it to the consumer, and dispose of/recycle it once it's finished with. So, how does it not reduce environmental impact to use less paper?

Ok, using less of anything is going to make a better environmental impact. The question is, where is money and time better spent? Should we spend money on datacenters, and power grids to handle new-age paperless societies in countries that do not have a negative tree-growth rate? Or should we focus on spending money where it can actually make a difference?

Think of it this way... either I could be more environmental by buying a hybrid SUV and getting 30 miles per gallon instead of 7 miles per gallon, or I can get a geo metro, and a motorcycle, and get 50 miles per gallon unless I absolutely have to use a car?

I have problems with people not considering cost/benefits, and rather thinking about their own selfish holier-than-thou agenda.

You think like a ReThuglican Jew (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26369983)

You think like a ReThuglican Jew
Just wait until we try and execute your boy The Jew Puppet Bu$Hitler Chimpy McHaliburtan.

Re:more paper == more trees (1, Redundant)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 5 years ago | (#26370227)

>>>Give subsidizes to every farmer near the rain forests to not go out clear cutting,

Brazil and other rainforest countries argue: "You Americans and Europeans clear cut your trees to make room for farming. Why is it okay for you to do that, but not us?" And I agree with that question. The United States used to be one hufe forest east of the Mississippi, but we've turned it into farmland. It's hypocritical for us to clearcut our forests while telling other nations, Don't do what we do."

Perhaps instead of bossing-around other nations, we should focus on ourselves and revert some of that farmland back to the wilderness it used to be.

Let the law handle it (1)

CptChipJew (301983) | more than 5 years ago | (#26369439)

Shouldn't there be some kind of legally defined minimum along with nice availability regulations? They make them keep records on everything else!

Re:Let the law handle it (1)

powerspike (729889) | more than 5 years ago | (#26369551)

just like enron?

Re:Let the law handle it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26369897)

I think you'll find there is a legal minimum for the time they have to keep the information - it's usually set by the Tax authorities. In the UK it's normally 7 years.

How long you can access those records is a different issue. I'd have thought there should be some mechanism for the whole of that time.

Might be worth talking to the taxman.

As long as legal paperwork requires (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26369459)

The e-paperwork should be active *and* available to the (former) customer as long as they would need it for any tax purposes; likewise if they discontinue or plan to discontinue then they should opt the (former) customer to be able to download digital copies for any further record keeping.

How about... (1)

Antony-Kyre (807195) | more than 5 years ago | (#26369479)

For the duration of the account, save all past bills. When the account is closed, give the consumer 30 days access to past bills, somehow. Also, perhaps the company should retain the bills for no less than 12 months after the account is closed, for legal or tax reasons.

Re:How about... (1)

Chatterton (228704) | more than 5 years ago | (#26369675)

For tax reason it must be kept for 10 years. I my memory serve well IRS can go to 10 years old declaration and ask for proofs.

Re:How about... (1)

blackchiney (556583) | more than 5 years ago | (#26370245)

In most cases you only need 3 years. If you've gotten in trouble with them before they can make you keep it longer. Business fall under different rules. You can also look here:
Individual [irs.gov] and Businesses [irs.gov]

Why is paperless considered green? (1)

Sangui5 (12317) | more than 5 years ago | (#26369525)

I challenge the premise that paperless is actually green. Cellulose is rather difficult to biodegrade (if it weren't, all the trees in the world would be eaten to mush). Trees for paper making are generally farmed wood. So keeping your paper statement (even if you throw it out later) acts as a carbon sink. Hence it is good for the environment. Plus, you don't have to deal with the "whoops, that statement you need is too old" issue.

Re:Why is paperless considered green? (1)

Yuuki Dasu (1416345) | more than 5 years ago | (#26369677)

Probably because the process of growing trees specifically to make paper, cutting them down, processing them, printing on them, and disposing of them uses a lot of energy and wastes land.

Also, a lot of places burn paper garbage. So much for carbon sequestration.

Re:Why is paperless considered green? (1)

xaxa (988988) | more than 5 years ago | (#26369771)

A better carbon sink is to buy a lump of coal and a piece of wood and leave them in your desk drawer.

Re:Why is paperless considered green? (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 5 years ago | (#26370283)

Yeah that'll work. The average person burns a ton of coal per week (at the electricity plant). One single piece of coal saved in your desk is not going to make any difference.

If you really want to help the environment, turn off your heater and wear a coat indoors. The several tons of coal that you do not burn will do FAR more to help the environment than a few sheets of recycled paper.

Not forever (1)

Psychotria (953670) | more than 5 years ago | (#26369537)

In response to the tag 'forever'.

I think we're getting too reliant on trusting other people to keep our data. Don't get me wrong, there should be a minimum (and maximum) length of time that 3rd parties keep records of our transactions... they're the 3rd parties transactions as well, after all.

Expecting a 3rd party to keep records of transactions beyond a reasonable (or lawful) amount of time is, I think, crazy. 100, 50, or even 20 years ago this wasn't expected. Of course the third parties had to keep (paper) records for a certain amount of time. Beyond that though, why should they maintain them? If I, personally, want those records then I can damn well keep them myself.

Now, I do agree with what I think the summary is asking. To a point. I think that if I had to access a phone bill (for example) it should be no harder or no easier than it was before huge multi-multi-TB databases. I don't agree that I should be able to query the database myself when I am no longer a customer. The record should be there for a nominal period (as required by law), after which it is deleted (the same as shredding paper records). During the time when the record is 'active' but I am no longer a customer, then I should be able to get a copy of that record... but, not through an online service. If I need the record badly, then I can request it, by telephone or whatever and they can manually send it to me. I don't see why the company should keep maintaining a "lookup online" service for lost customers.

Now, the real is to 'How long should companies make e-bills available' is: as long as you're a customer.

'But I want the luxury of checking things online. How can I do this if they don't allow e-access'? You can't. Bad luck. You can get a copy by ringing or emailing or whatever, you just don't have a web interface. Get over it.

How long should records be kept? As long as the law states.

Re:Not forever (1)

scientus (1357317) | more than 5 years ago | (#26370295)

yes you shouldnt rely on them to keep it, but guess what, they are keeping it weather they let you access it or not, what are they going to look at when backing up their claim of your indebtedness to them? What it comes down to is that if they have data about you you deserve to know what threat data is and be able to access it weather you are their customer or not. Its simply common sense.

Storm in a tea cup (1)

N1AK (864906) | more than 5 years ago | (#26369541)

My bank gives me access to my last 12 statements online, and then charges £2 to mail any older statements. If I leave, I will lose access to my online statements as soon as the account is closed. I download, store as PDF and print them on a 6 monthly cycle. The last thing we need is for goverment to spend a large amount of money creating, passing and enforcing uneeded regulations when we are capable of seeing what the terms were before we sign up.

Obviously if the item was something like a Credit Card or service which you will need to pay off then removing access to the information on what you need to pay before you are able to is an issue, but I haven't heard of this happening and would expect that the law already contains regulation that would protect against this.

email - let the customer archive them (1)

StrawberryFrog (67065) | more than 5 years ago | (#26369553)

Is there anything wrong with emailing the bill to the customer and letting them archive it (or not)? I know it's not secure, but neither is a piece of paper in the physical mail.

What's the value in deleting records? (3, Interesting)

mcrbids (148650) | more than 5 years ago | (#26369557)

Thanks to Moore's law, there is very little value in deleting records except in very extreme cases, or when the data itself acts as an un-necessary liability.

If you assume that you have enough storage for the current year on hand, are you going to more-than double the amount of storage you need over the next 18 months? Very few business will say "yes" to this, and thus the cost of storing everything is DROPPING with each passing year, despite the ever rising amount of it.

We recently upgraded one of our D2D backup arrays from 300 GB drives to 1.5 TB SATA drives. For less than the cost of the original array of 300 GB drives, we ended up with 5 times the storage space in just over 2 years, meaning that the cost of the old data is now 1/5 what it used to be. We were profitable keeping that data 2 years ago, so in a sense, we are 5x as profitable keeping that same information today!

So why would we delete it?

Re:What's the value in deleting records? (1)

N1AK (864906) | more than 5 years ago | (#26370149)

Although your comments on the cost of storage are accurate, I don't see the complete relevance to the issue at hand.

Unless your are being paid to store data, storing data for users is a cost and thus not something you 'profit' on. To use your example as an example of storing statements for a finance account. To store customer statements you buy an array of 300GB drives, this costs you £5 per customer (Including all costs to run array, backup to seperate location, pay for data centre etc) and will store 2 years worth of data.

After 2 years you have filled your arrays. For the next two years you have the following options, replace your storage for 20% the original cost and write over the oldest records, or double your storage so you can keep the old records and store the next two years for 40%.

In this example if you had 1,000,000 customers the difference in cost would be £1,000,000. Even if the service you are offering was already profitable is it not worth considering being £1,000,000 more profitable or what else you could do with that £1,000,000 that would improve customer service by more?

Why should they save it (1)

profplump (309017) | more than 5 years ago | (#26369559)

If someone sent you a paper bill that you wanted in the future would you expect them to re-send it on demand, as opposed to just filing the copy they already gave you? Why should the rules be any different just because the original copy was electronic?

Here's a handy rule of thumb -- if you can see it in your browser, you can save it to your disk. Even if they don't provide a handy PDF format -- which many companies do -- you could generate a PDF locally, or even just save the HTML source. Heck, even if there was some funky DRMed format (which seems unlikely for bills) you could save a screen shot. Once you save a copy locally you'll have it forever (or at least for as long as your personal document retention policy and backup strategy permit), no matter what document retention or access policies the company has, or how long they are in business or offering electronic billing.

Re:Why should they save it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26370323)

Because when they /claim/ to have sent you a paper bill that you never received, /they/ need to be able to send you a duplicate copy for a reasonable fee.

And obtaining said duplicate copy should not take three months of wrangling with customer service trying to convince them that the account number that has appeared on every bill you /did/ recieve is correct. (I eventually figured out that they were only looking at the wireless accounts, and not the legacy landline accounts that predated the merger.)

It doesn't stop paper arriving though! (4, Insightful)

MessyBlob (1191033) | more than 5 years ago | (#26369589)

In my experience, paperless billing only cuts paper by about 20%. Companies and institutions that are savvy enough allow the switchover to paperless billing, are also savvy enough to have a continuous mailshot campaign. The result is that you are still mailbombed and sent changes to T&Cs, for example. The cynical view is that 'paperless billing' is Greenwash (go look that word up if you haven't seen it before) - it's really about saving the company money by not paying the third-party billing service.

Re:It doesn't stop paper arriving though! (1)

scientus (1357317) | more than 5 years ago | (#26370353)

The problem is that a mail message has a real high quality attached to it and a authenticity. a random html page is hard because there is no signature and it could always be argued that you changed it. Until banks cryptographically sign their online statements they are practically useless.

"Paperless" just makes you do all the work (1)

nicolaiplum (169077) | more than 5 years ago | (#26369655)

"Paperless" or "Online" billing simply makes it entirely your own problem to remember to make the regular effort to access the billing information and print it off or save it (and back it up). It does not remove the requirement to keep your own archives for as long as you need them (which for financial information is as long as the taxman can ask for it!)
Many companies can and will blame you when you don't have a copy of the billing information because you didn't download it or relied on them to keep it available, from utilities to banks.
So the only way is to either archive it yourself, religiously, or have them send you bills.
$30 payment for going paperless, as offered by my bank? $30 doesn't pay for very much of my time spent downloading and saving records. I'll stick to having my bank send me the information in a handy-to-archive form on durable media so I don't have to think about it.

Re:"Paperless" just makes you do all the work (1)

GWRedDragon (1340961) | more than 5 years ago | (#26369747)

$30 doesn't pay for very much of my time spent downloading and saving records. I'll stick to having my bank send me the information in a handy-to-archive form on durable media so I don't have to think about it.

I thought this was Slashdot?! Why don't you just make a perl script or something?

The article (1)

Antony-Kyre (807195) | more than 5 years ago | (#26369665)

Is anyone a bit bothered by a company fining, I mean charging, you to receive paper bills? Shouldn't the goal be to encourage without penalizing people to go paperless? Paper bills still have a use. It's a hard copy. No worries about digital decay.

People like thier Paper (1)

boliboboli (1447659) | more than 5 years ago | (#26369751)

I've been working as a tech at a 3rd party billing company for almost 11 years. I remember the talk when everyone was going paperless, but we print considerably more bills today than we ever have before. Several of the statements we send aren't real bills, but online activity statements for 'paperless' customers. The fact is people like their paper statement, even if they pay online. I don't know how much success Timer Warner will have with this fee, but I'd guess enough customer complaints will cause them to reverse their decision.

We need third parties online safes (1)

Permutation Citizen (1306083) | more than 5 years ago | (#26369883)

I'm all in favor of not receiving a physical letter for each legal document not so interesting as an electricity bill.

But what I see currently is each company/organization storing the files for me, each of them requiring a logging. And I don't want to keep the file on my own computer that is not so a sure place.

What we need is a different company in charge of receiving all these documents and keeping them securely as long as I want.

Save storage space (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26370017)

I convert as much of my tax records to electronic form not to save paper, but to save storage space. With it all neatly organized in a directory structure, I have a much easier time finding that record from 5 years ago, too.

Already paperless (1)

jholster (1155609) | more than 5 years ago | (#26370043)

I don't get any regular paper / snailmail bills anymore (living in Finland). If possible, I've made a direct debit contract (takes only one few clicks in online bank) with all companies. Some send "official" electronic bills while other send html or pdf attachment by email. Because of direct debit, usually my bills are merely notifications not requiring any action from me.

I'm-sorry-HAL (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26370073)

I'm-sorry-HAL,-I'm-afraid-I-can't-pay-a-bill-I-can't-see.

mo3 0p (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26370085)

Of open-5ource.

foreever (1)

z_gringo (452163) | more than 5 years ago | (#26370187)

They should keep the statements online forever. And they should allow access to them forever.


If they can't figure out how to do that, maybe the should ask for someone at google to help them.

I use them for two reasons. (1)

Xest (935314) | more than 5 years ago | (#26370193)

I want my bills for two reasons:

1) To ensure I'm being charged correctly.

2) To act as proof if the company feels I haven't paid them/been charged right/whatever

In case 1) I will chase them up pretty quickly if this occurs so the length isn't too important as long as it's reasonably long enough to get round to checking through the bill- 3 months would do but there's little reason they shouldn't hold them for a year or more as it's not expensive to hold them that long.

In case 2) I don't mind how long as long as there is a condition attached- that as soon as they wish to delete the bills they also accept they have no reason to dispute the bills or their payment. As soon as a company removes access to the bills they should also be entering an agreement that they accept that bill is done and dusted and there will be no more come back over it.

Whilst rare, I have heard of cases chasing people up over bills that were multiple years old before, generally due to system errors. If the bill is no longer available to me after this time though, they shouldn't have any comeback on me if they later dispute it because I can no longer verify their claims due to not being able to inspect the bill in question.

If they were really underhanded they could modify the bill online anyway of course so for anything particularly sensitive I prefer to keep my own local copies regardless but I think my above to points still hold.

Somebody is going to figure out service pays... (1)

Genda (560240) | more than 5 years ago | (#26370209)

Forgive me, this is simply not brain surgery. A company sends an email to it soon to be ex-customer. You have 30 days to click the button in this email and have your entire service history sent to you in text, database, or spreadsheet format. You totally automate the process. The customer get's to choose, has 30 days to change his/her mind, can implement an instant solution by clicking a button in an email, and can choose the format by which the information is sent. Upon completion of the 30 days, the records are purged, caveat emptor. This isn't hard, provide a modicum of civility, and you might even someday get your customer back when you offer a cool piece of technology worth his next migration.

None, it's a convienience (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 5 years ago | (#26370221)

It's a great service after all, but if they mail you the PDF or whatever I don't see why they should have to keep it available for you at all. Obviously it's in their best interest to do so to cut down on expensive support calls but I don't see why you should be entitled to it.

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