Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Nova Scotia Power and epost

Things are going pretty well so far with epost for my pay stubs. So I've been looking to add some more service providers.

I thought my power bill would be a good choice. Everyone gets power from Nova Scotia Power so they should be on the ball I would think. My power bill is actually pretty good right now. I'm on monthly budget pay and last year I used less electricity than NSP thought I would, so for this year my power is adjusted down to only $6 a month.

I checked on epost and saw that NSP wasn't registered there as a mailer. On the Nova Scotia Power paper bill they point to their own website for e-billing. I e-mailed their customer support and told them they should have epost as an option. They replied the next day with this.

Dear Customer

Thank you for your email. We will be re-launching our ebill services in
mid November with easier functionality and new options. One of those
options will be the ability for our customers to pay their bills online
directly through our website. We had considered ebilling options and
costs associated for various ebill vendors, including epost, when
selecting our ebill vendor. While will not rule it out for the future,
we will not be using epost at this time. Please keep an eye out for
information on our ebill launch very shortly.

Have a safe day
Customer Service

Well that's annoying. They should be using epost. There are at least a couple of reasons that epost is the best choice.

Think of how many bills a typical person might get in a month. This could include
  • phone
  • power
  • cable
  • cell phone
  • water
  • pay stub
  • Visa (1 or more)
  • Mastercard (1 or more)
  • Amex
  • gas station card (1 or more)
  • department store card - Sears, The Bay, Future Shop (1 or more)
Anyone can see that electronic bill presentation is the way to go. It's better for everyone and for the environment.

Under the Nova Scotia Power scheme, every customer would have to set up dozens of electronic accounts, a separate account for each service provider. The customer would then have to keep track of dozens of web site URLs, usernames and passwords.

This is absurd and not customer friendly. There's no reason for that. There is a proven solution to this problem available today; and the solution is to standardize on epost. There is no reason for service providers to be launching their own separate service when epost is the trusted standard.

I wonder if they are just trying to save 1 penny per bill or something stupid like that by hiring their own "cheaper" service provider for e-billing. Look what happened to the World Bank with India contractors. I'm sure they saved a few dollars too, up front.

From a customer perspective, e-billing is a risk to me because my personal billing information is online. If I had 12 e-billing sites then that's 12 points of failure where my information could be compromised and used against me to launch identity theft. I'm not going to expose myself to that kind of risk.

At least with epost I know who I'm dealing with and they are more likely to be reputable and trustworthy. epost is actually legally backed by the post office itself so attempting to compromise it is a serious federal offense [equivalent to stealing regular letter mail] with stiff prison sentences.

The other thing is that Nova Scotia power has been mailing paper bills to customers for around a century. The logical successor to the post office for power bills is, well, the post office. Just like the power company has been a generally benign monopoly in our lives, so has the post office. The post office is a part of the Canada identity. It's been there since pre Confederation and is still relevant today. An institution like Nova Scotia Power should do its part and utilize our own post office.

No comments: