It seems the move to “go paperless” is well and truly under way in Britain. Far more than in the US. Here, it seems to be a small part of a far broader agenda that you can never be far from no matter where you are or what you do: going green, doing your bit for the environment, saving the rainforests, countering climate change, fighting global-warming (or whatever the current in phrase the custard-slingers are bandying about).
Some bills are still sent in paper form, but many companies take bank details over the ‘phone at the time service commences and, unless you specify to the contrary, will proceed to set up a direct debit facility for regular monthly payment. Some companies are so anxious that you adopt this method of payment that they even offer discount incentives for going paperless.
In my experience, the following set up direct debit facilities at sign-up time: British Telecom (phone, internet service), the local government (council tax) and Swinton Insurance (car insurance).
The benefits of this system extend far beyond doing your small bit for the environment. It means you’ll never pay bills late and fewer visits to (and less time standing in line at) the post office. The downside is that it can be easier to lose track of your finances with multiple entities helping themselves to their cut month to month.