From what you described that really shouldn't be too hard to resolve so it's disappointing to hear it's still an ongoing issue.
There are good reasons not to do direct debit but no reason why everyone else should pay for individuals who take that path.
I agree with OP, and was disappointed to see the bpay charge on my first bill recently. I reluctantly paid.
This fee is not commonly seen on bills, in years of paying with bpay I have not seen a penalty for using bpay over direct debit.
Bpay is easy to use and reliable. The service is not just a "gift" for bill-payers, it's also a service for the payee. You might describe it as "collecting payments from customers without hassle or risk". If that's true, it's valuable for bother buyer and seller.
Not everyone wants to give green lights to companies wanting auto-payments. It makes for a lousy default payment. The "set and forget" psychology contributes to customers not bothering to shop around for better deals if their bills and payments are taken care of in background. It benefits businesses to have long term contracts, and subscribers rather than casual or month to month. Lock 'em in.
The other thing in my case, I made a specific agreement on Optus chat when I negotiated the deal that was done for my internet. "So the total price is xyz, no other fees?" "Yes, no more to pay". That was literally the conversation. No mention of a requirement to use direct debit in order to get that agreed price.
I was however happy with the negotiated deal apart from that... but it remains that I dislike seeing a bpay slug on my bill. So yep, thumbs up to OP for raising it!
Great points @retro-nachos
I agree whole heartedly with the warning against the pervasive psychology of selling. We all like to think we are the exception but businesses are definitely one step ahead of us most of the time (I personally refuse to answer when someone ask me if I have a "Rewards Card". Knowing that in business magazines these are touted as increasing revenue by 30-40% while being presented as a way to "save money" to the mug punter is diabolocal.
That said there is a real cost to offering a BPay service to a company. Yes it does provide benefits to the company (which is presumably why companies pay for it) but each company is presumably free to assess those benefits on its own terms? Presumably Optus doesn't think offering free BPay is more profitable than charging $2.50 for it.
End of the day, it's not about Bpay. It's about providing a manual method of payment without additional fees.
"Paying to pay" is a joke, and Optus should be forced to stop.
There is no manual method of paying an Optus bill that doesn't come with a fee, and it's this that regulators should be cracking down on.
Even walking into Australia Post with a hard copy of your bill, will attract a $1.75 fee on top of the already overpriced internet bill.
I even pay my Linkt toll top-ups via Bpay, and there is no additional fee.
The other thing Optus does, is not attach the actual bill to the email. The subject line is "Your Optus bill for account 123456" but then if you want to see the actual bill you need to log in to their rubbish website.
It's just another blunt move to distance customers from the process of paying and thinking about the cost. Optus wants people to forget they're paying for the service. "Don't worry about all that complicated bill paying stuff, we'll take care of it while you sleep".
If they want to reward people for direct debit, then give those people some other perks like whatever streaming rubbish they offer, or extra gigs of data or something rather than penalising people who don't conform to their direct debit marketing agenda.
Someone has to be paid $50,000 a year to stand around waiting for you to "manually" pay your bill.
I'm of course referring to manual electronic payment. There is absolutely no way any human needs to "stand around" waiting for me to click a button in my bank account that transfers the owed money to Optus.
I'm not interested in walking into a post office with my bill. I mentioned that only because it's a $1.75 to do that - which is excessive when many people who choose that option will be buying other things from the post office. Customers who are physically in the shop, wallets in hand, are worth something to any business. That's probably on AUs Post, but who really knows as the Optus define the fees.
Having an automated computer system set up with direct debit, is a NEW contract set up between my bank and Optus - a separate contract which has technically nothing to do with my Optus account.
You seem to think direct debit is some sort of magic efficient system that doesn't involve any staff, technical support, infrastructure, maintenance, management, administration, or anything. It just auto-magically happens in the background and that's why it's "free"?
Your perception is that it's a "free ride" because it's technically more efficient, but it's not. There is an overhead to direct debit just like anything else. The reason it's free is because as I already mentioned, it's "good for business that customers not be conscious of the payment and let the subscription continue indefinitely".
How about clueless people who use Optus support 20 times per year vs someone who uses support ZERO times? By your logic, the person who never uses tech support is paying for all the people who use tech support. It costs a lot of money having staff sit there waiting for people to complain about brain-dead problems. Why should I pay for those people? See... if you're going to go down the road of "why should you pay for my bpay" then I can just as easily go down road of "why should I pay for [inset Optus service that I don't use]". Optus could charge $2 per support request, but they don't... instead I PAY FOR YOUR SUPPORT. Get it?
Posters tend to make a lot of assumptions about what they're actually conveying. You say "manual payment" I read "manual payment", there's no "of course I meant something different."
Similarly they tend to read more into what others post. Direct Debit definitely has costs. I don't think it is magically free. Its just the only option Optus choose to absorb those costs for the customer. I agree that this is because the payment method has several benefits to Optus that make it work the outlay. The set and forget mentality sure (but I think that's a minor benefit given you still get a bill sent every month) more likely because payments are much more likely to be completed each month compared to any (optional) manual process.
As to the tech support analogy, I'd agree with you. In fact both Optus and Telstra have now instigated a 'premium' tech support service. Free with expensive plans or pay as you go for those on cheaper ones. So savy users can save as those that need extra help now have to pay for it.
Ultimately though how a company chooses to defray its costs is up to them. Consumer Legislation has increasingly wanted to make what was traditionally all bundled up in a "monthly fee" splits out potentially optional costs. For example shops used to just put the price up of their goods ~3% and then offered "free" credit card payments. If you paid cash you still got gibbed 3%. That's no longer the case.
It can be dressed up anyway you want and justified in any manner of terms but the reality is “we want our money”
That doesn't seem an unreasonable view for a business to take? FWIW Direct debit doesn't guarantee access to your money. It has benefits to Optus so naturally they'd encourage it but they are numerous:
1) The user is connected to a bank account (with rigorous ID protocols) so skipping town doesn't mean they just disappear.
2) Customers are aware that insufficient funds might incur a bank fee so are more primed to have the money on the due date.
3) Customers (incorrectly) think a direct debit can only be cancelled with and through Optus (neither is the case)
4) A direct debit gets paid on time more often than any other payment method.
5) Customers are less in touch with automatic payments and less likely to review payments they have signed up for.
6) Many customers don't want to spend hours each month manually processing an paying bills. Ironically they would probably actually pay $2 a month for an automated payment option.
Option 5 is definitely something Optus does in other areas. However I don't have much sympathy for those that don't take the simple steps to stay on top of their finances. Optus sends a bill (paper of PDF) a week before it is due. I can also set my own monthly (or yearly) reminder to check it.
Anyway, Optus has just announce a huge overhaul to their mobile plans (for the better IMO). Perhaps billing options will also be looked at again. Although I already don't pay any fees for my service it would be great if every one could choose their own preferred fee free option.