Do you think you're charged too much for telecoms services? Don't worry, help is at hand , says Pete Smith.
Did you receive a home phone bill this month? Did you check it? Most of us just look at the bottom-line figure, see the cost is about right and pay the bill.
We do not check that we actually made all those calls or that the price charged per minute and the discounts are correct - it is far too complicated and life is too short.
Consider the problem of the IT or telecoms manager. Phone bills arrive every day which often run to more than 100 pages. Some are for voice services, some for data, some have variable charges and some have fixed charges. Each supplier operates a different pricing scheme; some send their invoices in advance and some post-usage. Get the picture?
Controlling telecoms and data costs in any large company is like trying to nail jelly to a wall. If you add international data lines and overseas roaming charges it gets even more complex.
Checking and paying a bill should not be so difficult. We are managers. We deliver a service to our end-users and try to keep within our budget, but we are not telecoms billing experts.
But there is light on the horizon. Two months ago I received a phone call from a small company in Lancashire which asked if it could come and have a look at my phone bills. It turns out that it specialises in checking bills, logging claims for refunds with telecoms suppliers and chasing the suppliers until a refund is obtained. The firm also operates a "no refund, no fee" policy.
Is this too good to be true? We invited the company to look at a small sample of bills from one of our suppliers and it was very professional. Not only did it spot incorrect charges, it also pointed out where we were paying too much and how we could reduce costs in the future. The result: a nice, big cheque. But that is not the full story.
We also found out that we can claim on incorrect bills that are up to six years old. Needless to say, the man from Lancashire is down in my basement dusting off those old bills.
What do you think?
Should telecoms firms make their bills easier to understand? Tell us in an e-mail >> ComputerWeekly.com reserves the right to edit and publish answers on the website. Please state if your answer is not for publication.
Pete Smith is IT/telecoms manager at Inmarsat