Prohibits an additional fee or rate to be charged when payment on an account is made by US mail or a customer opts for receiving paper billing statement.
BILL NUMBER: S7296
TITLE OF BILL : An act to amend the general business law, in relation to prohibiting an additional fee or rate to be charged in certain circumstances
PURPOSE OR GENERAL IDEA OF BILL : The purpose of this bill is to prohibit businesses from imposing an additional rate or fee on the account of a consumer who chooses to receive paper billing statements or pay by United States mail.
SUMMARY OF SPECIFIC PROVISIONS : This bill would prohibit any person, partnership, corporation, association or other business entity from charging a consumer an additional rate or fee or a differential in the rate or fee associated with payment on an account when the consumer chooses to pay by United States mail or receive a paper billing statement.
The bill stipulates that its provisions shall not be construed to prohibit a person, partnership, corporation, association or other business entity from offering consumers a credit or other incentive to elect a specific payment or billing option.
Violations would be deemed a deceptive act and practice subject to enforcement under Article 22-A of the General Business Law.
JUSTIFICATION : In recent months, there have been instances of major companies proposing to impose an additional fee on the accounts of customers that choose to receive a paper bill or pay by United States mail. Such paper billing and payment fees unfairly impact consumers that do not have Internet access in their homes, as well as, those that are uncomfortable using the Internet, including many senior citizens and those concerned about personal privacy.
Paper billing and payment fees disproportionately affect low-income consumers, who are less likely to have access to the Internet. Furthermore, such policies impose an additional burden on those customers who choose to file their billing statements for later reference, as such customers will be forced to bear the cost of printing electronic billing statements on their home printer.
While the environmental benefits of electronic billing and payment are clear, a better approach to reducing paper use in this area is available. Several major companies have successfully reduced paper usage by offering customers an incentive to switch to electronic billing and payment.
This legislation would expand upon the provisions of Section 702 of the General Business Law, which prohibit creditors from charging customers an additional rate or fee when the consumer chooses to pay by United States mail.
PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY : New bill.
EFFECTIVE DATE : Immediately.
STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 7296 IN SENATE March 29, 2010 ___________Introduced by Sen. PERALTA -- read twice and ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Consumer Protection AN ACT to amend the general business law, in relation to prohibiting an additional fee or rate to be charged in certain circumstances THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM- BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: Section 1. The general business law is amended by adding a new section 399-zzz to read as follows: S 399-ZZZ. PROHIBITION OF CERTAIN FEE CHARGES. 1. SUBJECT TO FEDERAL LAW AND REGULATION, NO PERSON, PARTNERSHIP, CORPORATION, ASSOCIATION OR OTHER BUSINESS ENTITY SHALL CHARGE A CONSUMER AN ADDITIONAL RATE OR FEE OR A DIFFERENTIAL IN THE RATE OR FEE ASSOCIATED WITH PAYMENT ON AN ACCOUNT WHEN THE CONSUMER CHOOSES TO PAY BY UNITED STATES MAIL OR RECEIVE A PAPER BILLING STATEMENT. THIS SUBDIVISION SHALL NOT BE CONSTRUED TO PROHIBIT A PERSON, PARTNERSHIP, CORPORATION, ASSOCIATION OR OTHER BUSINESS ENTITY FROM OFFERING CONSUMERS A CREDIT OR OTHER INCEN- TIVE TO ELECT A SPECIFIC PAYMENT OR BILLING OPTION. 2. EVERY VIOLATION OF THIS SECTION SHALL BE DEEMED A DECEPTIVE ACT AND PRACTICE SUBJECT TO ENFORCEMENT UNDER ARTICLE TWENTY-TWO-A OF THIS CHAP- TER. 3. NOTHING IN THIS SECTION SHALL BE CONSTRUED TO RESTRICT ANY RIGHT WHICH ANY PERSON MAY HAVE UNDER ANY OTHER STATUTE OR THE COMMON LAW. S 2. This act shall take effect immediately.EXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets [ ] is old law to be omitted. LBD14742-04-9