A call for utilities to leave the marketing business.
Many of us on the front lines can identify with Stanley Klein's...
atmosphere could be a significant contribution to sustainable development for the 21st century, if many agricultural scientists are correct.
The deep split between economists and environmentalists concerning the costs of Kyoto No. 1 is masking an even greater development. The scientific case for climate change alarmism, while never compelling, is steadily weakening. Chances appear good, if not excellent, that the latest environmentalist scare will continue to evaporate and, hallelujah, the substantial resources now spent by both sides on the global warming debate can go toward higher economic and environmental ends.
Robert L. Bradley Jr.
Institute for Energy Research
I am writing with concerns about an article recently published in your Fall-Winter 1998 Public Utilities Fortnightly advertising supplement, Billing Strategies for Utilities. The article, "Bringing Interactivity to the Bill", written by Len Grzanka, contains a number of inaccuracies about TransPoint (formerly MSFDC), that you should be aware of.
Our specific concerns about the article are:
• Mr. Grzanka writes on page 18, "The utility customer logs onto MSFDC with a personal financial package such as Microsoft Money or Intuit's Quicken, and receives billing detail from MSFDC." This is not accurate. In the near term, all consumers will need in order to use TransPoint is a secure Internet browser. They can then access TransPoint either from their bank's website or the TransPoint website. Since the inception of TransPoint, we have consistently stated in our MSFDC literature (the source Mr. Grzanka states he used to write this article) that we believe the most appropriate place for consumers to receive and pay e-bills is at their bank's website. That being said, the TransPoint business model is set up to offer multiple "on-ramps," which will include bank websites, TransPoint, Internet browsers, web TV, and personal financial management software such as Microsoft Money (the latter won't occur until the next version of TransPoint).
• On the same page, Mr. Grzanka states, "Since the customer is using the proprietary MSFDC system, the utility has no direct contact with the customer, and loses the benefits of linking the bill to other business opportunities." This is completely untrue. In fact, we believe one of the strongest benefits to billers who use TransPoint is that they will have immediate access to their customers. They will be able to market additional services and products to their customers on a targeted basis. It gives them an incredible opportunity to develop stronger relationships and build customer loyalty through interactive customer service and special marketing and business offers. It's important to realize that when consumers click on a bill from the bank or the TransPoint website, they are on the utility or biller's real estate. The utility or biller owns this "real estate." In addition, we give consumers the option of linking directly to the biller if they are equipped and would prefer to do so. We believe TransPoint will provide billers with a better link than they've ever had with their customers-not cause them to lose that connection, as Mr. Grzanka suggests.
• Perhaps what bothers us most about this article is that Mr. Grzanka obviously