Managing your total communications bills

It is no secret that telecommunication bills can be complex and difficult to understand. As a result, it is a natural reaction to focus on the bottom line and pay the bill.

These bills now encompass a variety of products such as Internet access, cellular bills, hosted Web sites, email services, and basic phone services. Periodically we may review some of the more obvious line items but how often do we dig into some of the more obscure features, fees, packages and usage rates.

Billing Rates

We are all aware of the challenges of analyzing the myriad of billing methods. There are fixed monthly costs, contract periods, packages of options, per minute billings, megabyte transfer costs, annual access fees, and roaming charges. Although these may all be correct and legitimate, they can sometimes lead to costly oversights.

The Moment of Enlightenment

For me, the inspiration to comment on this topic became apparent when I took a few minutes to review one of my own bills. For years, I had been the proud owner of a unlimited long distance plan that cost five dollars per month. This plan was eventually discontinued, but I was able to protect this “grandfathered” service through a number of moves and changes to my services. However, last month I did my periodic review of the billing details. To my horror, this long distance plan was suddenly twenty five dollars!

90 Days Limit

It took me only a few minutes to call the service provider and identify the problem. The Customer Service Representative listened to my complaint and immediately reviewed my account. At that time I was told that the error was more than 90 days old, and therefore my treasured long distance plan could not be restored.

Going, going, (not) gone

Needless to say I was quite indignant about this turn of events and quite simply I was not going to pay the new rate. I now have the option of porting my phone number to a new supplier and was quite willing to go through that process. Not surprisingly, the Customer Service Representative suggested that there may be another solution.

After being off-line for a few minutes there was a new “package” that included unlimited North American long distance and all my existing calling features for $13 dollars per month less than I was paying with my original $5 long distance plan.

In addition, they processed a credit to correct part of my overpayment. Rather than going through the (sometimes) painful process of changing service providers, I accepted this solution. I did note the order number, and two weeks later I called to verify that the order had been processed. Somehow I now feel the need to call twice for every order.

Other Oddities

I also took a few minutes to review our corporate cellular bill. The printed bill simply does not provide sufficient detail to complete a full and complete cellular use audit to determine if we are on the best plan (which is what we recommend all business do at least two time per year). Detail billing is available for a small additional charge.

Fox Group also has a VoIP line that we use to access the Toronto local calling area from our offices in Mount Albert. This service has no monthly statement, and only shows up as line item on a credit card statement with no supporting details. Fox Group consumes a wide variety of technical services and finds it interesting the diversity of billing details, even within the same provider.

Where’s the beef?

For all sized businesses there can be a significant amount of money at risk by not reviewing the billings, plans and fees.

There are a number billing anomalies that accrue over time and can significantly affect a company’s bottom line.

In fact, there may be worthwhile projects that can be financed from these reduced costs that can provide better customer service and improve business processes.

That pile of statements and equipment records can be an opportunity for improved cash flow. From our research and experience working with our clients in this area, there can be substantial savings achieved, watch your oddities!

Call us if you would like to discuss how we can help you manage and reduce your telecom costs.

Bill Elliott can be contacted at 905.473.3369 x 1400 or [email protected].

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