Handy Tip: Lorem Ipsum

This tip originates from somewhere slightly in left field: how to ‘create’ Lorem Ipsum text.

For those who may not know, Lorem Ipsum is that nonsensical Latin text that designers use for placeholder text. Some have sought to decipher it, and there are even conspiracy theories related to it (the Illuminati are involved somehow), but it's actually nonsense. It has, inevitably, spawned countless memes and been used as band names.

Anyway, creating it is easy. MS Word has a built-in 'lorem' function:

Type ‘=lorem (3,3)’, where the numbers in brackets define the number of paragraphs and the length of the paragraphs. Leaving out the second number will result in paragraphs of varying lengths. Try it - it's more fun than you think.

Lorem Ipsum, according to Microsoft, actually has a long history. It has been used as placeholder text for centuries by typesetters. It was originally derived from a quote by the Roman philosopher and orator Cicero: "Neque porro quisquam est qui dolorem ipsum quia dolor sit amet, consectetur, adipisci velit ...,"

This translates as “There is no one who loves pain itself, who seeks after it and wants to have it, simply because it is pain..." suggesting that Emo subculture was largely unknown in the late Roman Republic. The phrase was later mangled, as these things are, and has been used that way ever since.

Handy Tip: Checking data usage on a Telstra iPhone

This week's tip shows you how to check your mobile data usage on a Telstra iPhone.

This is particularly useful if you're an avid mobile data user, especially given the exciting new industry trend for shrinking data allowances.

'Thou shalt not exceed thy data allowance' is pretty much the 11th Commandment, with divine retribution usually arriving in the form of a staggering mobile bill. 

  1. Turn off Wi-Fi on your iPhone. To do this, go to Settings -> Wi-Fi -> then switch it to 'OFF'
  2. Go back to Settings -> Phone -> Telstra Services -> BigPond Mobile for iPhone
  3. This will load up the mobile Bigpond website in Safari. Tap the 'MY' tab, then tap 'My Data Usage'.
  4. You will be shown how much data you have used this billing cycle (both as a percentage and as a total), as well as some details on where your billing cycle falls. There are also details on all of your data sessions (5 per page).
  5. Once you're finished, don't forget to turn Wi-Fi back on (assuming you want to).

At step 4., you can also enable or disable a 'Usage Notice'. Enabling this will mean that either an SMS or email is automatically sent to you when your data usage exceeds 50%, 85% and 100% of your monthly quota. This is quite useful, although we must warn that this data is not real-time (and can actually lag by as much as 48 hours, which seriously limits its immediate use).

This information can also be accessed by the Telstra 24x7 iPhone app, available here. This app requires you to create a user account and log in.


Pricing the Cost of a Handset

The purpose of this article is to show you how to work out the most cost-effective way to acquire a new mobile handset – whether it is cheaper to buy the phone outright, or to get it included with a plan. There still seems to be a great deal of confusion about this.

Recent analysis has shown that Australians are increasingly buying their mobile phones outright. There are a number of reasons for this. For one thing, getting a phone on a plan typically locks you to that device for 24 months, and customers – especially younger ones – are increasingly keen to upgrade their handset more frequently than that. This is why Apple and Samsung release new flagship handsets every year.

Perhaps more importantly, however, is the simple matter of cost. While the prices of the premium handsets that drive the market – iPhones, Galaxies etc – haven’t fallen significantly, the willingness of telcos to subsidise that cost has vanished. It used to be that you could get an excellent phone included on a relatively modest plan, but those days are past. Now the best phones are only included on higher plans, and often there are extra charges, both hidden and overt. Dog and Bone looked at this issue several years ago – the article is still well worth a look. But costs are different now, and plans have become even worse value.

The first, and most important thing you should know when working out which option is best for you, is which plan you really need to be on. Ignorance, in telco land, is not bliss; it is expensive, and telco loves to sell plans based on the urge to own a lovely device. Do not let the device drive your choice of plan. It can inform it, certainly, but your plan choice should be determined initially by an honest appraisal of your actual phone usage. I long ago lost count of the number of times users and businesses signed up to vastly over-serviced plans in order to secure ‘free’ or ‘cheap’ handsets, thus spending far more in the long term. So, to stress it again: to start with, ignore the handset!

Broken down, this is the information you will need, and the process:

  1. Ascertain your ideal plan, based on your actual usage. This should be a plan with no phone included (i.e. a BYO plan).
  2. Multiply the cost of this plan by 24.
  3. Work out the outright cost of your desired handset.
  4. Add the results of steps 2 and 3 together. This is the 24 month cost of buying a phone outright.
  5. Find a plan that includes that handset. Make sure you have the total cost, including extra monthly handset charges.
  6. Multiply the cost of this plan by 24. This is the 24 month cost of getting a phone on a plan.
  7. Compare the results of steps 4 and 6. This will tell you which is cheaper.
  8. If it turns out that buying a phone outright is cheaper, you now have the exact value of the difference. Only now can you weigh that difference against intangibles such as coverage levels, customer service quality, taste in logos, or whatever you may deem important.

Example 1:

Sally wants a new iPhone 5S (32Gb), so let’s look at the most cost-effective way to secure one, appropriate to her situation. For the purposes of this example, Sally really likes Optus. (Perhaps she’s taken with that odious little lemon drop mascot. Who knows?)

  1. Sally has examined her last few bills, and worked out that she uses less than 1Gb of mobile data per month. Her call usage would fall comfortably under Optus’ $40 My SIM Plan.
  2. The total cost of this plan over 24 months is 24 x $40, or $960.
  3. The cost of an outright iPhone 5S (32Gb) is $999.
  4. The total cost of buying the phone outright with this plan is therefore $1,959 over 24 months.
  5. The cheapest Optus plan that includes an iPhone 5S (32Gb), appropriate to her requirements is the $60 My Plan. Getting the phone on this plan costs an additional $19 per month. Total monthly cost is thus $79.
  6. The total cost of this plan over 24 months (it is a 24 month contract) is $1,896.
  7. Buying the iPhone 5S (32Gb) outright is thus $63 more expensive cheaper over 24 months ($1,959 - $1,896).
  8. Given both options are on Optus, there is little comparison to be made. The subsidised phone on the plan is overall slightly cheaper. Sally will have to decide if she is willing to pay $63 to avoid being locked into a 24 month contract. On balance I'd say that's worth it.

Example 2:

But wait! Sally has heard that some of the budget resellers offer very cheap BYO plans, and decides that maybe she isn’t as fanatical about the Optus mascot as she’d thought. She decides to check these other carriers out. Same phone: iPhone 5S (32Gb)

  1. Sally has examined her last few bills, and worked out that her usage would fall comfortably under Vaya’s $18 Power Plan. She uses less than 1Gb of mobile data per month.
  2. The total cost of this plan over 24 months is $18 x 24, or $432. Sally also prefers not to go on a 24 month contract, so she pays an additional $20 upfront for the month-to-month plan, bringing the total cost of the plan to $452.
  3. The cost of an outright iPhone 5S (32Gb) is $999.
  4. The total cost of buying the phone outright with this plan is therefore $1,451 over 24 months.
  5. The cheapest Australian plan that includes an iPhone 5S (32Gb), appropriate to her requirements is Vodafone’s $50 Plan. Getting the phone on this plan costs an additional $18 per month. Total monthly cost is thus $68.
  6. The total cost of this plan over 24 months (it is a 24 month contract) is $1,632.
  7. Buying the iPhone 5S (32Gb) outright and going on the Vaya plan is thus $181 cheaper over 24 months ($1,632 - $1,451).
  8. Sally can now weigh up other factors. With Vaya she would own the device outright, and not be locked into any sort of contract. She would also be using the Optus LTE network. The plan would also include an additional 500Mb of data per month. Balanced against this, she may not be comfortable using an MVNO, or Vodafone may have better coverage in her area. Perhaps she intends on travelling overseas, and finds Vodafone’s latest pricing in this area attractive. Now that she has an actual dollar figure, she can weigh these factors more accurately against it.

For comparison’s sake, if Sally prefers Telstra, their most appropriate plan which includes an iPhone 5S (32Gb) is $84 per month, or $2,016 over 24 months. If she still prefers Optus, their most appropriate plan is $79 per month, or $1,896 over 24 months. 


NOTE: This article is not intended as an endorsement of any particular mobile phone carrier or product. Examples used in this article are intended only for illustration. Similar results can be achieved with other carriers and other plans.

Trends for 2014

Here at Dog and Bone we spend our days down in the trenches of the ICT sector, typically dealing with both customers and suppliers. Our relationship with businesses enables us to see what their needs are today, and how new technologies and practices will address those in the future. Our relationship with carriers and providers lets us see just how those needs are being addressed now, and to see what's in store. 

Dog and Bone's senior consultants and managers here outline precisely what the next year will bring.

Jim: I think we’ll see a maturing of BYOD, as more companies come to realise that there’s simply no way to fight the trend, and huge benefits to be had. It requires careful management, but I think in the coming year we’ll see a more standard set of practices emerge. It is essential that this is done while respecting employee privacy.

Jesse: We’re all intensely curious to see what happens with the NBN. It is now looking supremely unlikely that the government’s target of universal 25Mbps by 2016 will be achievable. Quite aside from the endless political finger-pointing – don’t they realise how boring this is for everyone else? – I suspect we’ll see the government increasingly dragged towards FttP. I also predict that we won’t see an end of the claims that an NBN is unnecessary because mobile technology is better. These claims will likely persist until the heat-death of the sun.

John: The MVNO market will continue to contract. The heyday of the budget mobile provider looks to have passed for the time being. With the main carriers now dominant, look for prices to remain high, and innovation low. 

AiLin: Customer Service. Telcos talk a lot about customers service and how much things have improved. But we don't really see much improvement. Especially in business, things are the same as they've ever been. So I wonder if the new improvements the telcos keep talking about with customer service will be extending to business customers.

Angus: I really question whether Vodafone will still be a presence in twelve months’ time, if indeed it is much of a presence right now. They are no longer competing heavily on price, and we cannot see that they are proving very competitive in other aspects. This is a shame, because Australia really needs a third major provider.

David: There will be maturation in Cloud services and hybrid-Cloud solutions, hopefully not too hindered by ongoing uncertainty over the NBN. Businesses are increasingly seeing the benefit of Software as a Service (SaaS), and the coming year will quite likely see a critical point reached. This will have profound ramifications for hardware acquisition (people need less hardware) and a renewed interest in robust data networks.

James: We are seeing a much bigger interest from our clients in mobility and teleworking. The stigma attached to working remotely has been growing less and less. Look for this to continue, as more businesses embrace the benefit of working from anywhere, and as technology improvements makes this possible. It feels like we’re in a transition phase.

Adam: I’m interested to see if the major telcos can continue reducing the value in their mobile plans, especially mobile data. Especially with 4G handsets become standard, it has gotten to the point where the amount of data on standard plans is not enough.

Customer Service Matters

Customer service in the telecommunications industry is now held in such low regard that even to highlight its few good points seems perverse. And it isn't a problem only for single consumers, but also for business clients.

Here at Dog and Bone we deal with this reality for large parts of every single day, although in somewhat different ways to the normal customer experience, since we don’t operate on the scale of single users. As consultants with strong connections to all parts of the industry we (mercifully) are not obliged to spend countless hours waiting in queues to speak to a service rep. Believe me, I am thankful for that, and I do sympathise!

This doesn’t mean it’s all roses, though. While a single consumer generally only cares about customer service when their phone stops functioning properly, the business and enterprise customers we work with are in constant contact with their telco provider for myriad reasons. Customer service is thus a daily reality. 

And believe me, the issues plaguing the industry aren’t confined to the front end, but invariably extend all the way back, and often all the way up. While it is deplorable that small consumers are given bad service by the front of house, you’d be surprised to learn that large organisations often fare no better, for all that they’re supposed to enjoy ‘premium’ service. 

There’s sometimes no substitute for an attentive Account Executive (AE), but there’s often nothing worse than an inattentive one. And these experiences will have a decisive impact on an organisation's ultimate decision on whether to stay with their current provider, or to leave and find a better fit.

Here are five related areas telcos really need to focus on.

1. Consistency

In my six years working as a consultant at Dog and Bone, I have lost count of the number of Account Executives with whom we’ve formed a ‘special relationship’, only to never see or hear of them again after a few months. There is a high degree of staff churn within the industry, which reflects a number of factors. But telcos should be aware that most customers like to form a relationship with their provider, because it makes their own job much easier. All businesses have their quirks and particular ways of doing things – a good AE or dealer will get to know these, and become invaluable.

We often hear from clients that they only ever hear from their Account Executive when their contract is due to expire. After twenty months of silence suddenly there will be a series of very friendly phone calls, generally highlighting new offers. In these situations AEs can stand revealed as nothing more than salespeople, and they should not labour under any illusions that their customers won’t see them as such. An AE or dealer that only contacts their clients every couple of years is doing themselves more harm than good.

There is also a tendency to promote new offers too aggressively, which is frankly off-putting for the client. AEs need to be aware that theirs might not be the only pitch the customer has heard that week, especially if they are shopping around for alternatives. Customers have heard it all before. Of course, the churn within the industry means that we often hear the same AE delivering a similarly rapturous pitch for a rival telco a few months later.

It’s surprising how effectively a genuine voice cuts through, and how truly nice it is for a client to have a provider who actually listens to what they say. Lots of people say they’ll listen – it's standard sales-speak – but few do it.

2. Flexibility

One of the most frustrating things that can happen in customer service is for your query or complaint to collide with the brick wall of official policy. Nearly every provider has a list of Terms and Conditions roughly the length of Finnegan’s Wake, and about as readable.

Now, T&Cs are obviously important, and ideally everyone involved is conversant with them. But this is rarely the case, and it is our experience that service staff have some discretion in enforcing them. The best companies are able to show a little leeway, despite boasting monumental T&C’s, and are willing to grant small refunds or concessions. While nothing travels faster than bad news, that doesn’t mean positive stories don’t get about, and their value is immense.

On a related note in the consumer space, getting the right result for a stonewalled customer can often entail nothing more complex than hanging up, calling back and getting a different service rep. Never underestimate the value speaking to someone in a good mood.

3. Promptness

Like many of the other points, this should be self-explanatory, but if someone is awaiting a response, provide one. Get back to people, keep them constantly updated, explain why there are delays. Delays sometimes cannot be helped, but almost everyone prefers to be kept in the loop than go for several days wondering what the hold-up is. Emails are quick and free, and customers will only resent it if they have to chase you up, which can be distracting and time-consuming. If you tell someone you’ll update them the next day, then do so even if you have no news (it should go without saying that you must do so if you do have news). We make it a huge point to always get back to people as quickly as we can. Frequently we're forced to explain to clients that we in turn are awaiting a response from their telco provider. 

4. Honesty

One of the most transparent bits of sale-speak an AE can indulge in is to pretend there’s a close relationship when there isn’t one. I cannot believe that this ever works. In my experience the customer usually shakes their head and wonders aloud whether the telco rep has them confused with someone else. The most outrageous example I’ve seen of this coupled an insistence on the strength of the business relationship with a persistent inability to get the client’s name right. (On a related note: businesses always notice when you spell their name wrong, and it just looks sloppy.)

5. Online Services

Your billing engine may be the most sophisticated in the industry, your online portal might be streamlined to the nth degree, but if the people aren’t there to back it up then it will count for little. You can automate any number of processes, but there will always be exceptions to the rules.

Some telcos have automated their complaint handling, which is fine when it works. But there’s a special type of low key anxiety and frustration awaiting those customers whose specific case doesn’t appear to match any of the criteria. I’m sure we’ve all been there – wondering if our specific case will even get looked at, since it didn’t seem quite match any of the available criteria. When your ogranisation's communications systems might be depending on this, you don’t need any uncertainty.

Or perhaps there’s an automated procurement system, whereby customers can order new equipment such as handsets and SIMs. This is another great idea, but again there are always things that don’t quite match up. Recently in a Review for a large NFP client, the decisive factor in switching providers wasn’t cost, but the fact that with another telco the CIO could simply call the dealer, and have new equipment hand-delivered that day. Now when new stuff is delivered, the dealer also inquires whether everything is working fine, and whether there’s anything they can help with. That’s old fashioned service, and it works.

Automated online systems are great, and clearly the way of the future, but ultimately they still cannot compete with truly great personal service. 

Handy Tip: Facetime Audio Calls in iOS7

One of the handy features in Apple's new iOS7 is Facetime Audio, which allows you to call other iPhone users over VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) instead of using your call allowance. 

First the simple instructions:


  1. Go to Contacts, and select the person you wish to call.
  2. Tap the telephone icon next to Facetime.
  3. You should now hear a VoIP-style dialtone rather than the usual phone one. Otherwise it's just like a normal phone call.
  4. The person you're calling can receive the call as they normally would.
  5. The quality of the call will depend on the strength of the network. Be warned that all telcos prioritise voice traffic over data traffic.

This of course is not a revolutionary new concept. VoIP is very common, and there are already plenty of apps that provide it, the most famous being Skype and Viber. Apple's inclusion of it is not a wondrous new feature, but more on par with the inclusion of the flashlight app. Millions of users already used a 3rd party flashlight app, but now that it is included by default, you can be sure that many millions more will quickly learn to find it indispensable. A similar point can be made about iMessage, which popularised a pre-existing capability by embedding it by default.

So it may turn out with Facetime Audio. It has been easy to make data-based calls for a very long time now, and ten of millions of people do so. But there remain many times more users who're too shy or otherwise reluctant to try it. I still come across many iPhones that have almost no 3rd party apps installed. There's a persistent assumption - often justified - than any service purporting to be free must have a hidden catch.

Naturally, the 'hidden' catch here is that VoIP calls use data. Any calls you make will use up your data allowance. Apple estimates that a 10 minute VoIP call uses about 6Mb of data, though this varies slightly based on network conditions. On the other hand, if you utilise Wifi, it will cost you nothing. And yes, nothing really means nothing, even calling overseas, or from overseas.

The other catch is that the person you are calling must also have iOS7 installed, otherwise it won't work. iOS7 is available on the iPhone4 and above. If that is a problem, then we encourage you to try out any of those third party apps, such as Skype and Viber. These can be used to call any platform, so long as they have the app installed.

The Advantages of Account Consolidation

Does your company have a ton of different telco bills? Consolidating them into just a few accounts often has profound benefits.

When Dog and Bone initially engages with a new client, one of the first things we do is obtain all the pertinent information we possibly can about their services, which includes all relevant telecommunications accounts. It’s amazing what we sometimes find. Organisations can literally have dozens of accounts for fixed lines and mobiles.

I’d have to ask around the office, but my personal record for a single client is 47 separate accounts, just for fixed lines and mobiles, across four different providers. I’m sure there are examples of companies with even more.

Of course, no organisation sets out to do this. The process by which accounts proliferate is usually far more haphazard, or, as we generously term it these days, ‘organic’.  Businesses expand, and in doing so sometimes absorb similar business, and take over their legacy systems and accounts. Sometimes staff act unilaterally, and start up new accounts without checking to see if it is necessary. We have encountered examples where a company didn’t realise that different departments or sub-entities can co-exist on the one account, yet have their expenses listed separately via the establishment of ‘Cost Centres’. The point is, it happens. The problem is, it’s never a good thing.

Put simply, when you have lots and lots of different accounts, potentially across multiple carriers, it is very hard to know what you have. When you don’t know what you have, you generally won’t know what you need. There’s also a very good chance you’ll be paying more than you should be, often for stuff you didn’t even realise you had.

Now, it won't always be possible to combine all your accounts - sometimes different service types just have to have their own accounts - but it always pays to try. Consolidating your disparate accounts yields tangible benefits. The most prominent of these include:

  1. Increased spending power. As an organisation’s telco spend increases, it becomes eligible for increasingly competitive tiers of pricing. Rather than have several accounts on mediocre rates, combine the spend and get the best rates you can, thus leading to significant savings. Any telco will be far more interested in a bigger account, and far more likely to throw sweeteners your way.
  2. Fleet calls. By combining as many services as possible on the one account, you ensure that more of your services can take advantage of fleet provisions, and can thereby call each other for free. Some carriers even allow this between mobiles and fixed lines on the same account.
  3. Reduced administrative costs and time. Keeping track of multiple bills is always more work than keeping track of just a few. There comes a point when keeping track of everything is simply impossible, details slip through the cracks, and businesses end up paying for things they no longer use or need.
  4. Contractual certainty. Multiple accounts mean multiple contracts, and it is exceedingly unlikely that these are all going to expire at the same time. Generally this ensures your services remain perpetually in contract, making it far more difficult to make necessary changes.
  5. Planning for the Future. As mentioned above, it’s very hard to plan for what you need if you don’t know what you have. We’ve found that the act of consolidating accounts, especially in conjunction with implementation of an Asset Register and a clear Procurement Policy, enables organisations to make the best decisions for their telecommunications futures.

Handy Tip: Turn off Mobile Data on Casual Plans

This week's Handy Tip is a great one: turn off mobile data on casual mobile plans that aren't supposed to be using it! In fact, make your carrier do it.

As you may know, carriers generally send out alerts when a user comes near to using their monthly data allowance. The threshold for this alert is usually set at 80%. There is then another alert sent at 100%, to inform you that you are now racking up excess data charges only expressible using scientific notation, and to prepare for the astronomical bill headed your way. These alerts are quite effective at curtailing excess usage.

However, especially for Telstra, this isn't the case for mobiles on mobile plans which don't have a mobile data component included, or that don't have an attached data pack. While such casual plans are rare, if not unheard-of, in the general consumer space, they are very common in the corporate and NFP spaces. For example, we have a large charity client with 355 phones on precisely that kind of plan (through Church Resources). 

Every time one of those users uses mobile data (charged at PAYG rates) there is no alert, because the carrier only provides alerts on plans with a data allowance included. These organisations, and many others like it, are running up large excess mobile data bills because of this. We do this for many of our clients, and predict that even moderately large mobile fleets are saving on average nearly two thousands dollars per year.

It is the simplest measure to request your carrier to switch off mobile data for a specific user or users. It is free, easy, and can be switched back on again with a phone call. This is a service all carriers provide. Indeed, many carriers even allow managers to do this via the online portal. 

Of course, data can also be turned off at the handset by the actual user. However, it is overwhelmingly Dog and Bone's experience that this is less effectively than having it disabled remotely, at the request of the IT manager. The manager can then maintain a spreadsheet of precisely who should and shouldn't be able to access mobile data.

On a related note, we have found it can be very effective to disable mobile data before travelling overseas (assuming of course that you don't need it). Almost everyone runs up excess mobile roaming data charges, no matter how savvy they are. Someone in our own office returned from Japan with a $380 charge just last month. It is almost unavoidable, unless you switch it off.

Handy Tips: Checking Your Telco Bills

Telecommunications overcharging in the business space is exceptionally common, and constant vigilance is essential. Today I’m going to look at some ways to check your own rates.

As part of many of Dog and Bone’s core services –Audits, Reviews, Support Services – we conduct what we term Rates Verifications. In essence, we check to see that you’ve been billed as per your agreed-upon rates. It’s quite straight-forward, and we suggest everyone does it regularly, or employs someone to do it for them.

To do this, we merely take the client’s currently contracted rates, and then apply them to existing billing data. (That word ‘merely’ of course conceals a lot of work, and is possible only via a very complicated software system.) If the contracted rates have been applied correctly, then the discrepancy in our results from the actual phone bill will be negligible (there’s always some small rounding errors, resulting from the different ways each telco calculates charges). If, however, there is a significant difference, then we know that an issue has occurred. More often than not, there is a difference, and therefore an issue. You might not be surprised to know that overcharging is far more common than undercharging, although this is by no means rare. Today we successfully obtained a backdated account credit of $137,000 for a single client, based entirely on previous overcharges.

Now, the Dog and Bone Analyser enables us to efficiently work out the full extent of billing errors, but it is also possible for you to conduct a reasonable assessment of your own account. Here are some simple things to look out for.

1. Call Rates. This is the most obvious one. In order to find out what a call should cost, simply multiply the call rate by the call duration (expressed in minutes), and add any flagfall.

For example, say you have a call rate of $1 per minute, with a 40 cent flagfall:

  • A 1 min call should cost $1.40 ((1 x 1.00) + 0.40)
  • A 2 min call should cost $2.40 ((2 x 1.00) + 0.40)
  • A 1 min 15 sec call should cost $1.65 ((1.25 x 1.00) + 0.40)

2. Billing Increment. If you have negotiated  ‘per second’ billing, yet your details are showing call durations in 30 second or 60 second intervals, you can be fairly sure you aren’t receiving the correct billing increment. Large billing increments can have a dramatic effect on call charges.
For example, using the above call rates, but with per 30 second billing:

  • A 1 min 15 sec call should cost $1.90 ((1.5 x 1.00) + 0.40)

3. Plan Charges. You should verify that every mobile is only the correct plan. Sometimes carriers will change mobile plans within a fleet. Often this is done with good intentions, and sometimes even for good reasons, but it can also lead to wasting money.

4. Service and Equipment Costs. Always check your line rentals and other equipment costs. We have found that line rentals are often covered under SFOA (Standard Form of Agreement) provisions. When these standard rates change, your rate is changed, regardless of whatever was in your original agreement. For example, Telstra changed the SFOA rate on most of its S&E extras last year, without telling anyone. Unfortunately you will have to check each charge individually.

5. Charity Rates. Charities should always check to see they are receiving any discounts to which they are entitled. Be aware that Telstra charity PSTN line rental charge is lower than the not-for-profit rate. Sometimes charities are placed on the higher rate without being consulted.


6. Keep an Eye Out for Anything Unusual. This sounds a bit vague, but we really have seen some odd stuff on client’s bills, and it’s hard to compile a list that would include everything. Obviously any unexplainable service you’re adamant you didn’t ask for shouldn’t be paid for, and should be raised with you provider. This can often include premium services that staff insist they haven't used.

If you have multiple accounts, check that each account is actually one of yours. Believe it or not, we’ve found one company's account tagged to the account list of accounts for an entirely unrelated company. Neither had any idea of the other's existence. Usually there will be a similarity in the names, suggesting that the account executive made a simple error when the accounts were created.

I’ll add to this list as more things occur to me.