I remember going to a conference in Scandinavia some years ago and being told that such surcharges for utility bill payment were already normal there. No-one thought it was odd that a utility should surcharge cash payments, since they are inconvenient and expensive to handle. Precisely. Why should people like me, who pay by direct debit, have to subsidise people who insist on using physical means of exchange?
Mind you, there is a genuine problem. It’s troubling because, as always, it is manifest in the poorest people paying the highest transaction charges, which is always a hallmark of a payments environment that is not serving society properly. Nearly three million Britons do not have a current account, meaning that one in 12 households is unable to pay domestic bills via a bank transfer. For them, avoiding BT’s penalty is not an option. The solution is obviously inexpensive pre-paid e-money rather than expensive bank accounts. So let’s get on with it.
Incidentally, the Aussies have opened up another front in the war on cash with some suggesting that cash should be banned in slot machines. With the arrival the first super-casino in Britain now imminent, we should probably go the same way, shouldn’t we?
My opinions are my own (I think) and are presented solely in my capacity as an interested member of the general public. [posted with ecto]