VICTORIA BISCHOFF: Government must act now to prevent a cashless calamity

At the end of last year, we warned that Britain was sleepwalking into a cashless crisis.

Now, a report published today claims we could end up in a position where we have to order our cash through the post or pick it up from secure lockers.

These are truly bizarre proposals and will no doubt worry many readers already struggling to access cash amid closing bank branches and ATMs.

But we shouldn’t despair — there is still time to turn it around.

Millions of cash shoppers face alienation who will find they have less choice on the High Street 

Paper cut

What a dirty little trick by Vodafone. Last week, we revealed how profit-hungry telecoms giants are charging customers up to £36 a year extra to receive their bills in the post. Now it has emerged that Vodafone has tried to quietly scrap paper bills altogether.

Even worse, the firm initially denied it to Money Mail, claiming it had no plans to axe its paper billing service. It then eventually admitted it had been switching customers who receive paper statements to digital billing as part of a ‘trial’. But it assured us customers would continue to have a choice and had only to call to switch back.

Yet, when our correspondent asked a staff member if paper bills had been withdrawn, she was told: ‘We no longer send paper bills.’

A contrite Vodafone has now promised to retrain staff and contact customers to explain clearly how they can keep their paper billing service — but it’s disappointing we even got to this point.

Rip-off bills

While we are on the subject of the paper bill rip-off, it seems insurers are at it, too.

Money Mail reader Elaine Ellis, from Sheffield, says: ‘My car insurer said that from next year, it is going to charge £6 for paper statements. 

‘That equates to £18 a year, as both my husband and I have a vehicle, and we have home insurance. 

‘This is discrimination against those of us who prefer to have a hard copy to refer to.’

Is your insurer charging for paper policies? Email us at [email protected], or write to Money Mail, Northcliffe House, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5TT.

Help us help you

Finally, a quick reminder from our letters’ editor Tony Hazell.

In order to help with your disputes, we need a note giving the company in question permission to speak to us on your behalf. This is vital — without it, they won’t tell us a thing.

You can download a form at thisismoney.co.uk/permission. We also need your full name, address, telephone number and customer reference number if possible.

If you include all this, there’s a much better chance that your letter will find its way to the top of our mailbag.

[email protected]