I’ve gone 95 per cent paperless with bills and financial matters. Not entirely out of choice, but because various companies have prompted me to.
That’s fine by me in an age of being more environmentally friendly.
I don’t need an itemised mobile bill, broadband bill, gas and electric, insurance documents or a blow-by-blow print out of my banking transactions.
I log-in online and do regular audits, to make sure I’m not overpaying for anything.
Drowning in paperwork: Was it really necessary to send out 72 pages of documents relating to a simple savings account?
I don’t miss receiving endless financial paperwork in the post that I’ll avoid destroying until it builds up, and one boring Sunday afternoon every six months putting my cheap WH Smith shredder through its paces until it overheats.
All that largely comes through for me now is a constant badgering from HomeServe to join something I’m never going to sign up to (seriously, stop) and an occasional gold envelope attempting to persuade me to join a postcode lottery (again, nope).
I understand for many people, they will still like receiving paperwork from certain financial firms, but I’m really not fussed.
When something bulky and something thin landed on the doormat at the same time this week addressed to me, I wasn’t too sure what to find.
In the thin envelope, a letter from NS&I to say my recent application for Premium Bonds online had been successful, with my customer number. Simple stuff.
I’d read the terms and conditions online and was impressed at how smooth the process was, which given after some recent customer service meltdowns at the Treasury-backed bank surprised me.
I also opened a new regular saver from First Direct with a headline rate of interest of 3.5 per cent. It’s the second time I’ve had one of these.
I like seeing the money snowball into a tidy sum over 12 months to then move onto pastures new – quite possibly into Premium Bonds next May.
That was simple enough via its banking app. What I didn’t expect nearly two weeks after opening was a huge mass of needless paperwork.
It’s pretty obvious how a regular saver works – and by then the account was opened and my cooling off period nearly over.
I’d skim-read all the important info online – that’s why I opened it. And besides, I’d had one before. Why wasn’t there an opt-out button to not receive 72 pages of information and T&Cs?
Imagine the thousands of people that have also received all of this paperwork for something so simple, that’s just going to be binned, unread.
Imagine how much First Direct could save not sending it out, and how many trees wouldn’t have need to have been pulped.
Stacking paper: All of this for one simple savings product
The paperwork is made up of four separate pages of ‘welcome to your new regular saver account’ (it sent the same thing twice in the envelope). This contained my account number – relatively pointless when it is linked to my current account.
Four pages of savings rates and summaries. Four pages of Financial Services Compensation Scheme Information Sheet and Exclusions List.
Then there is the 60 page booklet (in small font that runs into thousands of words) titled ‘our account terms and conditions and charges and our privacy notice.’
Part one – our agreement – has 23 headings, part two contains additional product terms. This does at least have some information about the regular saver account, except it basically repeats the savings rates and summaries list.
Part three is the privacy notice.
This chunky little stapled booklet is pointless. Who is going to sit through and read the financial equivalent of War & Peace when all you’ve done is opened a simple savings account.
There needs to be an opt-out button to stop this needless stream of paper. All of these documents are attached as PDFs on its regular saver landing page online.
The time, energy and effort the bank and recycling centre will undertake is plain ridiculous. Not really for me though. All I’ve got to do is walk it to my recycling bin.
First Direct confirmed it is required to detail information on products by multiple regulators – although it’s not clear if this has to be done by sending it in the post.
It also confirmed it is looking to at ways to make the process more user and environmentally-friendly.
In total, it is 28 A4 pages (the booklet is in small font and A5 size). If 10,000 customers opened an account, that would be around 280,000 pages, or 28 trees.
If 50,000 customers went for it (it is likely to be a popular account) that would be 1.4million pages, or roughly 140 trees worth. All to give information that is already locked and loaded on its website.
It’s time to bin this needless paperwork before it gets to a customer to actually put it in the bin.
– Have you received piles of paperwork for something simple recently? Let me know below or email: firstname.lastname@example.org