Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Carrot or stick?

Consumers in Finland are paying 400m€ per year for paper invoicing - without knowing it as the cost typically is hidden. Now invoice senders are starting to charge for it visibly to speed up the move to e-invoicing - certainly in the best interest of the consumer.

Why use a stick - not a carrot (deduction from grand total in invoice) as suggested by some local media? Easy answer - small carrots = small impact - small stick = really big impact.

My own experience: In 1983 we introduced an 8 cent charge for cheque forms in Union Bank of Finland > consumers stopped using them over night. Anybody imagining that the same effect would have been achieved by adding 8 cents per cheque used to the interest paid on current accounts?

TeliaSonera is being critized for showing the costs by adding 1€ per paper-invoice for broadband (which customers so far have paid without knowing it - everyone can easily avoid this cost). Instead they should get credit for lowering the costs - some of this will benefit the customers sooner or later in the fierce price competition typical for telecom or by more funds available for improving services. Some will of course go the shareholders - mostly pension funds of course - so again it is the consumer who benefits from being guided in the right direction.

But to get media to understand this and further digitalization by analytical stories seems to be a challenge.

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