Most people associate bill shock with wireless bills and high roaming charges when employees travel overseas or data charges from employees that drain their data plans watching movies. However, shifts in provider business plans can lead to dramatic price increases for services.
Some International calling rates with AT&T, Verizon and other providers are now giving enterprises a bad case of bill shock and organizations are getting hit with rates of $15/minute, $20/minute or even higher for calls to countries like Andorra, Algeria, and Slovakia. One enterprise discovered that a nine-minute call from Alabama to Algeria cost them more than $500 or more than $60 per minute. Enterprises need to screen for international calls to countries where they have relatively low volume. TEM reports or call accounting systems can quickly identify these calls and if they it is viable business usage, managers should look for better plans and calling options.
The high prices fit a pattern where providers hike the rates for services they want to discontinue. For example, as providers move customers to MPLS and Ethernet some enterprises report that the prices they are seeing for traditional services, T1s and other areas are skyrocketing.
Conversely, the first bill after implementing new services can pack a big shock. Businesses are billed from the installation date to the bill date. Also, telephone companies typically bill a month in advance for most of their services. When taxes and surcharges, which are almost never quoted, are added to the charges the first invoice could come to more than two times the amount that was listed in the original price quote.
Regarding taxes and surcharges, many customers believe that service providers have no control over their inclusion on the bill so they don’t include them when they compare their current costs to the amount for new services. This is a mistake. Carriers are actually not required to collect taxes and surcharges from their customers; they are just required to pay the taxes to the government. Surcharges and taxes are open to interpretation and the only figure that isn’t subjective is sales tax.
TEM providers can help organizations avoid bill shock and they have useful insights on international calling charges, prices for legacy services, and taxes from managing bills from many clients. While a TEM provider may not be able to disclose specifics, simply having the knowledge of the variations in how providers price these services and apply their calculations can be critical. This knowledge can be used to negotiate for better rates, credits or refunds.