Know Your Bills

Here at Dog and Bone, we look at a lot of phone bills. One of our more popular services is Telecommunications Account Auditing, whereby we identify those areas where our clients can do things a bit differently.

Time and again we encounter easily avoidable problems, from poor usage practices, to expensive and redundant services and equipment, to incorrect call rates. At the risk of losing ourselves potential business, we’d like to highlight some of the issues you can look for on your own phone bills, potentially saving thousands of dollars.

You’d be surprised just how often your carrier charges the wrong call rate, and how rarely they detect it if left to their own devices. (Actually, they seem to detect undercharging pretty promptly.) It pays to be aware of your contracted call rates, and to check regularly that they are being applied correctly.

An unused and unneeded fixed line is just a money-drain, pure and simple. If you don’t need it, you may as well get rid of it. Sometimes lines aren’t even connected. If a phone number is showing up on your bill and you’re not sure where or whose it is, call it. However, don’t cancel lines that are used for things like alarm systems.

Regarding ISDN services, many businesses are over-serviced, and are paying for many more lines than they need. As a general guideline, the ratio of lines to staff should be about 1:4.

Unused mobiles that are paying access fees are also usually worth cancelling. If you’re on a plan with no minimum monthly fee, you can generally retain the mobile service, and give it to a new staff member when required. However, be aware that certain mobile plans - such as Telstra Fleet Select and most aggregated business plans - require a minimum number of services in order to be eligible.

Mostly, staff do the right thing. Occasionally, they forget themselves, and access content - especially on mobiles - that lies beyond the scope of normal business activities. Sometimes, people simply don’t know better. For example, rather than using the prohibitively expensive Sensis service, the same information is usually readily available via a simple Google search or by calling the operator (1223), both of which are free. Creating a call policy can prove enormously useful, alerting staff to precisely which calls are OK, and which aren’t.

Another thing to be mindful of is very high volumes of SMS. Work out how many texts you feel staff can legitimately send in a month, and be aware of usage volumes that consistently exceed that amount.

Mobile cap plans are great, until you exceed your cap. Then you’re in for a world of cost. If you find your cap being exceeded, your mobile carrier will always allow you to go onto a higher one (surprise, surprise!). However, if you find that you’re consistently well under your cap limit, it can pay to go onto a lower cap.