British Gas switches on email billing

Nearly 100,000 people have signed up for the paperless billing system, but thousands are likely to pay their bills while at work

The first British Gas email bills hit customers' inboxes on Wednesday after almost 100,000 people signed up to receive e-bills instead of regular paper bills.

Discounts of up to £10 on annual bills have already persuaded around 100,000 customers to sign up for the email billing. The company said it expects one million of its 17 million customers to be getting "e-bills" by 2005.

British Gas said the move will cut down on paper and postage costs and will also give customers more flexibility in managing the household finances.

A survey of over 1,000 people, commissioned by British Gas, found that many are using the Internet at work for personal reasons with 41 percent checking bank balances, 39 per cent shopping for gifts, 37 per cent booking holidays and 28 per cent paying bills.

Richard Hepworth from British Gas described the trend as "homing from work" and said that using office time and technology to sort out home life can encourage people to work better.

"All but a few people who 'home from work' say that sorting out home hassles during the day frees them up to concentrate harder on their work and makes them more productive," he said. "The stress of worrying about fixing doctors' appointments or getting the shopping done is taken away by homing from work. It also means people don't need to waste their lunchtime queuing in the bank or the supermarket."

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