[GRRN] Computers Save Trees-Arbor Day Missive

Mon, 26 Apr 1999 11:18:57 EDT

Read the article/press release below...at least the first several paragraphs.

What I'm wondering is how many computers the average American will throw away
in his/her life time (and how many trees "they" destroy to mine the raw
materials to make them).

And wouldn't a world where we all depend on computers for billing and money
management be a wonderful thing? Nothing like utter dependence to grease the
wheels of our wondrous economy in one big never-ending self-sustaining orgy
of virtual consumerism.

Happy Tree Day.
Happy belated Earth Day too!

David Biddle


Honor Arbor Day - Friday, April 30: New Technology Saves Time, Money and Trees

ENGLEWOOD, Colo., April 26 /PRNewswire/ -- It wastes 600 million pounds of
paper each year, kills 600,000 trees and fills 900,000 cubic yards of
landfill, or 355 Olympic-sized pools. Yet people have little or no choice in
doing it. As a matter of fact, they absolutely have to if they want
electricity, water, gas, a telephone or credit. What is this environmental
evil? Paying paper bills.
But don't blame the billers. Until now, there hasn't been a reasonable
alternative. GTE Corp., one of the country's largest telecommunications
companies, sends nearly 200 million bills annually, equaling 5.8 million
pounds of paper, or several thousand trees. Recently, GTE and several other
prominent billers began testing a revolutionary new service that will
transform the paper billing process, just as ATMs have changed the way we do
our banking.
The new service is e-bills, or Internet-based bill delivery and payment.
This summer, TransPoint, a Microsoft Corp., First Data Corp. and Citibank
joint venture company, plans to launch its e-bills service through a variety
of banking and other popular Web sites, offering convenience and savings to
consumers and salvation to trees.

How E-Bills Work
E-bills are an electronic form of paper bills. They contain the same
level of detail as the paper bills consumers find in their mailboxes today,
but instead they are rendered electronically and found at a designated choice
of Internet Web sites. With e-bills, there is no need for special software
-- users need an Internet browser, version 3.0 or higher. To access e-bills,
consumers will log on to their choice of a general purpose Web site, bank site
or e-bills provider site. Once users have selected the e-bills icon and
entered identification information, a list of their bills will appear, which
can be reorganized to fit their preference in order of amount or due date.
"We realize that switching from paper bills to e-bills is asking consumers
to change a deeply ingrained behavior," said Ralph Young, executive vice
president of TransPoint. "To make the transition easy, we've developed
e-bills to be as logical and simple as the paper form."
When users click on an e-bill, they can choose to view summary
information, such as account number, amount due and due date, or they can view
all the bill's details, such as charges on a credit card or long-distance
phone calls. After they have reviewed the bill, it's as easy as click and
pay. Users simply select the pay button, and a virtual check will appear
on-screen along with a few options: Pay immediately, set a future date for
payment, pay the full amount, or set some other amount of payment. This is
especially helpful when consumers go on vacation; they can set the date of
payment before they leave and not worry about their bills while they're gone.
They can also retrieve and pay new U.S. bills from anywhere in the world.
In the paper world, consumers must allow three to five days for a payment
to arrive at the biller, and another few days for the payment to clear the
bank. With TransPoint(TM) e-bills, consumers can pay bills as late as 5 p.m.
the day before the bills are due, and the electronic transaction is guaranteed
to arrive on time. This allows consumers to keep their money in their own
account for a longer period of time, which is beneficial for interest-earning
accounts. Most important, users know precisely when the money will leave
their account, enabling them to closely control their cash flow.
Security and privacy are carefully safeguarded. TransPoint e-bills will
be secured with the highest level of technology available -- encryption equal
to that used by the U.S. Department of Defense. TransPoint also adheres to a
strict privacy code that prohibits the use or sale of consumer information to
any outside party.

Time- and Money-Saving Features
According to Jupiter Communications, a New York-based new-media research
firm, using e-bills will save consumers 60 percent of the time and money they
currently spend paying bills.
"One of the new ways consumers will save time is with convenient customer
service," Young said. "Rather than calling customer service, they will be
able to send an e-mail message with questions or concerns, or use one of the
built-in features. For example, one of the most frequently asked customer
service questions is 'What is the status of my payment?' With e-bills,
consumers can check on the payment status any time with the click of a mouse."
A phone e-bill, such as GTE's, will incorporate other helpful interactive
features. How many times have consumers questioned a phone number they don't
remember calling? With e-bills they can click on a phone number and, as long
as it is a listed number, the name of the party to whom it belongs will be
"Credit card bills can also be made much more dynamic through e-bills,"
Young said. "For example, if consumers regularly purchase cosmetic products,
from a merchant that offers its own credit card, TransPoint will enable them
to reorder items directly from the e-bill. Links to online catalogs will also
be available for extra convenience."
As this new technology demonstrates, what is good for the environment can
also be good for the consumer. Arbor Day serves as a reminder that by using
e-bills, consumers can help save nearly 1 million trees each year and save
themselves time and money. For more information about e-bills, visit

NOTE: Microsoft is either a registered trademark or trademark of
Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries. TransPoint is an
exclusive U.S. trademark of MSFDC LLC. Other product and company names herein
may be trademarks of their respective owners.