Paper Free Billing

Dear reader,

Instead of presenting my standard humorous essay, I'd like to present to you a piece of junk mail I received. The text of this mailing is as follows:

Dear valued customer,

In an effort to be eco-friendly, reduce our carbon footprint, and drop other “green” buzz-phrases, we would like to enroll you in our PaperFreeTM billing system. Similar to paperless billing (the only difference being we couldn't trademark the word “paperless”), our new system helps our environment by freeing you from mailed paper bills. (Note: while paper bills will be discontinued, other paper mailings such as advertisements, which constitute 90% of our mailings, will continue unabated.) This will also conserve energy wasted walking to the mailbox, allowing you to conserve it for locating our billing e-RemindersTM buried in the hundreds of “no cost to us, therefore no charge to you” junk emails you will receive from us and our Strategic Ad PartnersTM. In fact, because we can replace the human element with an automated bill reminder e-mail generator, we can share the savings from employee elimination with you. (Note: savings sharing is not guaranteed.) And because our system uses CarbonBalancingTM technology, it will also relieve you of the emotional stress of being referred to as “eco-terrorist” on future billings. (Note: CarbonBalancingTM does not imply “carbon neutral.”)

With PaperFreeTM billing, paying your bill is as easy as accessing our web site, navigating around the advertising banners, sidebars, bulletins, and pop-ups, logging in, navigating around several more advertising banners and pop-ups, clicking on “pay bill,” logging in again, navigating around still more advertisements, reviewing your bill, clicking submit, clicking yes to the “Are you sure?” pop-up, and then clicking one final time because of a software bug in our web page that could not be fixed after we laid off our overpaid web designer.

The PaperFreeTM billing system is the result of hours of dedicated work between our company's leaders, marketing teams, and accountants to find the perfect balance between minimizing money spent on phony “green” initiatives, maximizing profits from these initiatives, and eliminating as many jobs as possible. Even if you choose not to enroll in PaperFreeTM billing, you will see a new look to our paper bills, employing the environmentally friendly colors green and brown, and leaf-shaped logos to give a sense that our same-old, unchanged products and services are now somehow eco-friendly.

While our service is entirely free, we can also enroll you in our BillMinderTM program which for a small monthly fee will send you an additional e-mail to announce when your bill will be sent, and several more e-mails to follow every day thereafter until you pay your bill. Or enroll in the BillPayerTM plan, allowing our automated system unfettered access to your bank accounts guaranteeing your bill will be paid on time, and increasing the odds you won't notice the small overcharge error. Also available for a one-time annual fee is our AdManagerTM service, which will limit the amount of e-mail advertisements sent to you by our partners. (Note: e-mail ads may not be curtailed during peak advertising times.) Even if you opt out of these plans, you will still be eligible for a random foreclosure on a mortgage you do not own.

ThankYouTM for considering PaperFreeTM billing and for being a valued customer. (Note: ThankYouTM does not imply sincere thanks; you may not actually be a valued customer.)