I’m the bill payer in my house. Craig handles all the long-term investments, and I keep tabs on the household checking and savings accounts, write all the preschool tuition and elementary school fundraiser checks and make sure the lights stay on.
For the most part, bill paying is pretty routine. I usually wait until at least 3 bills have accumulated before taking the time to pull out the check book, stamps, return address labels and a pen. I admit that I can be pretty lazy about certain things, and while our bills are paid on time, I also admit that they are mailed much closer to their due date than the date they landed on our kitchen counter.
If a bill does happen to be paid late, it’s going to be one of the few bills we receive that does not include a return mailing envelope. Bills that come without that standard-issue envelope are always from one of our local service providers, like our pest control or security system companies. I presume they do not include a return envelope because they don’t want the added expense. Though I also presume we’re only talking about adding a few additional pennies per customer to their paper costs.
For me, not having an included envelope means that I have to locate one for myself (and also requires climbing a flight of stairs to find one). That, in turn, means that I’ll more than likely put off paying that bill for at least a few more days.
A business not getting my bill for at least a few more days means that the business has to wait longer to get paid. It also increases the likelihood that the business will issue a new invoice showing my account in the Net 31-60 day window, and each new invoice means another piece of paper, another envelope and another stamp, plus the time to process and handle it.
Back in my consumer research days, we’d classify something like an included return envelope as a basic feature that consumers expect from a business and its competitors. So by not providing that feature, a business was being judged negatively by its customers.
Taking that thought – and the fact that not providing a return envelope can have a detrimental effect on accounts due – one step further, I can’t help but think how for the cost of just a few pennies per bill mailed out, a business could significantly capitalize on that investment.