Fee or no fee, electronic statements are the right thing to do

February 01, 2013 · By Kelvin Smith

Unless someone printed this out and passed it along to you, the fact that you’re reading this post means you are able to view things on the internet. Not that that’s unusual; according to the US Census Bureau, by 2010 more than 83 percent of Arizona households had regular access to the internet for personal use. Considering the fact that 7.7 percent of households are considered “unbanked” because they have no relationship with a financial institution and that the demographics of that group are similar to the group without internet access, chances are that 9 out of 10 members of Arizona Federal can and do go online.

If that number doesn’t surprise you, then this one might: as of November 30, 2012, 41.3 percent of member accounts were still set to receive paper statements. That’s 74,000 paper statements being produced, averaging 2 sheets per statement, plus an envelope which uses approximately the same amount of paper as one sheet. So, 222,000 sheets of paper are used for a single statement cycle. According to wiki.answers.com, that’s the product of about 27 average trees. Every statement cycle. Over and over again.

That’s one of the reasons we’ve done all we could think of over the last few years to encourage all of Us to switch to electronic statements (eStatements). Regardless of your views about the environment, I can’t imagine that too many members think it’s a good thing to consume that many resources (not to mention the cost of printing, processing and mailing) to distribute information that the vast majority of us have the ability to access electronically. It’s a horrible waste of Arizona Federal’s (and the earth’s) resources, and wasting resources is not what you’ve elected me and my fellow directors to do.

With that in mind, as part of our reintroduction in early December we announced plans to collect a $2 paper statement fee beginning with the January monthly statement. We had actually begun notifying new members of this fee when they enrolled as far back as August, and more than 90 percent of new members since then had opted for eStatements. With that kind of response, it seemed logical to take the message to the existing members as well.

I’m sorry to report that the response from the rest of Us was not as enthusiastic. We heard from many members saying that they did not have a way to access their statements online and thus were being unduly burdened by the assessment of this fee. If you were one of those who called or wrote, I want you to know that we heard you and that for now, we have chosen to defer the collection of this fee from those who did not join knowing it was in place. We want you to have access to your account information, and we don’t want to create a hardship for anyone.

That’s not to say that the announcement of the fee didn’t do some good. As of January 22, the percentage of members receiving paper statements had dropped to 38.6 percent. We will produce approximately 7,000 fewer paper statements this cycle than we did on November 30, a savings of almost 10 percent (the equivalent of almost three trees). That’s a great start, and I offer my thanks to those who took the initiative to switch.

For the rest of Us, and especially those reading this via some electronic means: please follow the lead of your fellow members and opt in for eStatements. Not only will you be helping Us conserve resources; you’ll also be reducing the chance of your account information falling into the wrong hands, and you’ll have the ability to get the information when you want it instead of waiting for it to show up in your mailbox. Switching is as easy as giving us a call at 602-683-1000, sending a secure email from within CU Online, or stopping in at any ServUs Center.

Speaking of mailboxes … thanks again to those of you who have sent in comments about previous posts. We read them all, and respond when appropriate. Your input is valued and helps shape our ongoing conversation. Keep it coming.

And as always, thanks for logging on, and for being one of Us.

Tags: Cooperatively Speaking