If you upgraded a Verizon Wireless phone at a store over the holidays you might want to check your paperless billing settings. According to Verizon wireless reps I spoke with, a bug in the wireless carrier's systems automatically enrolls customers in its paperless billing option when changes are made from any of its stores. Both Verizon tech support and local store representatives confirmed the problem. An online customer support representative said Verizon Wireless' IT organization is working to resolve the problem (see update below).
If you are already signed up for the paperless billing option you won't notice anything amiss. But I didn't sign up for it -- and don't want it. Why? Because while U.S. mail is guaranteed delivery, email delivery is a best effort system. If your emailed bill doesn't come through due to some technical glitch, or because it ended up in a spam filter somewhere, you're still responsible for paying the bill -- plus any late fees or penalties.
Unfortunately for me, I had to make several different account changes at the store that triggered the conversions over the last two weeks, and I had to go back twice to remedy the problem. I am still waiting to see if a third account change, made over the weekend at my local store, triggers another reset to paperless billing.
Fortunately, Verizon's systems also give you plenty of notice of what's happening. I received an email notification and a notification by mail.
Update: 1/9/2014: A Verizon spokesperson who looked into the matter stated that the issue was not a computer or a system glitch, but a result of human error in both cases. When a change is made to the account, the system automatically converts the customer to paperless billing. Sales representatives should then see a pop-up message asking them to confirm or override the default choice.