We’ve all seen the commercial questioning viewers “Have you looked at your phone bill lately?” Unfortunately, many business owners are either too busy or don’t care enough to sit down and sort through a detailed phone bill. However, your business phone bill may be hiding charges that are costing your business thousands of dollars each year.
Understand Each Fee
If you haven’t done a thorough audit of your telephone bill, take the time to do so. Telephone companies are known for adding in hidden fees and making the charge sound official. In most cases, the list of fees is longer than the rest of the bill itself. Create an itemized list of any confusing fees or terms that you are unsure of. Make a phone call to customer service to find out exactly what these fees are.You may find that you are paying for a service or option that you did not request or need. If the phone company tacked on call waiting service fees and you did not request it, immediately have it removed and ask for a portion of the money to be refunded.
Look for Cramming Fees
Next, look for “cramming” fees which are becoming increasingly popular. Cramming occurs when a third party has access to your phone number and charges you for a service that you did not request, approve, or use. Typical third party types include random sweepstakes, entertainment services, memberships, long distance services, or web hosting. The fees are usually small enough that they don’t typically alert a consumer. However, ranging from $2-$10 month, a cramming fee for an unused service is wasted money. Check with your phone company to see if you can block third party access to your phone line.
In many cases, your telephone company will refuse to refund you for third party charges. They cannot be sure that you did not approve or access the content. Therefore, you are stuck dealing with the third party company for a refund. If the charges have been building up over several months without your notice, most likely the company will refuse to give you a refund beyond the last month. Therefore, it is important to check your phone bill every month. If it is normally $100 and you notice it’s $110, find out where that extra $10 is going.
Look for Unauthorized Long Distance Charges
Aside from the hidden fees, look for unauthorized long distance charges. You may find out that your employees are sneaking long distance calls home to their parents during work hours. Not only is this costing you lost productivity, but the charges do add up. Prohibit employees from making long distance personal calls on your work phone. Inform them if they make long distance personal calls, they will be responsible for the fees. Most likely the employee has a cell phone plan that includes free long distance. Encourage them to make personal calls from their cell phone if needed or in an emergency. Hang your utility bill on the company bulletin board so employees can see and appreciate how much you pay each month for phone service.
Finally, shop around and compare prices. However, take caution in companies that claim per minute prices that are outrageously low. Although they claim to provide long distance service for 4 cents a minute, they will add on hidden fees to balance the cost. If you are considering switching to a lower priced competitor, let your current supplier know. They may offer you a special rate in order to keep your business. However, bottom line is if you can get the same service for a lower price, do so.
Although you are busy, take the time each month to do a quick audit of your phone bill. Rather than waste hundreds of dollars each year on hidden charges or cramming fees, you will save your company a great deal of money.
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