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Utility’s customers face paper bill fee

Jakeb Waddell and Glenn CordingleyBroome Advertiser
Horizon Power West Kimberley office in Broome.
Camera IconHorizon Power West Kimberley office in Broome. Credit: Jakeb Waddell.

North West electricity supplier Horizon Power is about to charge customers for receiving paper bills and wallop them with a transaction fee if paid at the post office.

The only way of escaping was to register for an online account and to pay using electronic or phone banking.

An option to pay over the internet using credit card draws additional charges of 0.6 per cent.

The State Government utility company has refused to give consumers a choice and said it would slug them $1.20 for paper bills from March 1 and hit them with a $2.27 fee for payments made to the post office.

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People who are older than 65, receive a concession on their bill or can prove “hardship circumstances” are automatically exempt from the payment.

Horizon Power has more than 26,500 accounts across the North West, including 11,658 in the Kimberley and 15,331 in the Pilbara.

The company said 11,570 of its customers currently received a paper bill without exemptions, which would equate to $13,884 worth of fees from the two regions alone, or $40,147.90 if paid at a post office.

Customer service manager Geoff White said charges only covered the cost of printing and posting bills to customers and only those who used the service were charged, rather than levelling costs on the entire customer base. He encouraged the public to switch to paperless bills to avoid the fees.

Shire of Broome president Harold Tracey said it was another expense that vulnerable people would have to pay.

“This move will only impact vulnerable people like low income earners who do not have access to online banking,” he said. But Broome Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive Elaine Jolliffe welcomed the announcement and said paperless bills were a more effective way to make payments.

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