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Ethical Telecom Billing Options Explained

So you’ve done your research on the benefits of switching to hosted telecom. You’ve read the articles, talked to multiple professionals, and you’re ready to sign on the dotted line—as soon as you figure out which telecom company isn’t trying to back you up into an unfair deal.

Perhaps you’ve already been offered multiple deals from supposedly reputable Telecom companies where they allowed you some leeway in negotiating the deal, only to eventually hit a brick wall where they repeatedly tell you that they can no longer negotiate beyond a certain point. As a major decision maker for your business, how are you supposed to know if that’s true? This article is meant to educate you on the most common ethical billing practices in telecom and help you feel more confident in making an informed switch to hosted telecom services.

Your telecom agent tells you: “You’ll have to enter into a contract.”
Why this is ethical: This has long been the industry standard. Plus, laws passed in the US have regulated the telecom industry to be liable for your overall experience during this agreed upon period of time.
How you should view it: Your business needs a phone line—period. Plus, telecom rates go up every year, so by signing a contract today, you guarantee that you’ll be able to maintain the same rate for multiple years, which also helps you in planning out your business’ budget. Ultimately, there is no way around your need for a voice service, but at least this way you’ll be able to rest assured that you can hold your telecom company liable for providing you a high-quality service at a consistently low locked-in price. There also tends to be a correlation between the length of your contract and the amount of money you are able to save over the lifetime of the contract.
When should you be cautious? Contracts beyond 60 months are strictly prohibited by law, so any attempt to negotiate a contract beyond 60 months should tell you everything about that telecom company’s ethics.

Your telecom agent tells you: “The phones are available to lease only.”
Why this is ethical: Internet hosted telecom phones are just another form of hardware through which a vital utility is provided. It is a common practice with other utility companies to not sell you the hardware which delivers a needed utility, and hosted telecom is no different. For example, if you were to buy satellite service for your home or business, you wouldn’t expect to be able to buy the dish from the dish company, now would you?
How you should view it: If you consider the pace at which technology is evolving, it makes no logical sense to buy your hosted telecom hardware outright. Just as your smartphone will be outdated within a few months after you purchase it, your telecom company will most likely have something better to offer you by the time it comes around to renewing your contract.
When should you be cautious? If a telecom agent is too eager to sell you a phone system outright, you should question why. If phones are always upgrading, why would they find it beneficial for your business to purchase the hardware outright? Is the hardware they’re trying to sell you the best available, or are they simply trying to get rid of older hardware that modern businesses don’t want anyway?

Your telecom agent tells you: “Your phones are under warranty directly with us.”
Why this is ethical: Oftentimes, by the time your brand new cloud-based phones reach your business, they’ve been handled by many people and most likely been bumped a time or two during shipping. It can be very disheartening to wait in anticipation for your phones to arrive, only to realize they were damaged while en route to you. Having a phone directly under warranty with your telecom provider makes your life that much easier in that you’ll be able to deal with your telecom dealer directly and not have to try to get through the hierarchy of workers at the manufacturer’s call center to try to find the person that can help you replace your phones.
How you should view it: This bit of information should give you some added peace of mind. Now, if you ever have any problems with your hardware which were not caused by inappropriate use, you’ll be able to call your telecom company and have them fix your hardware problems immediately and keep your business up and running without skipping a beat.
When should you be cautious? If you aren’t offered a warranty with your telecom company that says a lot about their confidence in the hardware they’re offering you. Plus, it raises a red flag as to their commitment to customer service. Instead, go for the telecom provider that eagerly offers you an in-house warranty as this is a strong sign that they aren’t trying to get their customers out of their hair as soon as the transaction is over.

Your telecom agent tells you: “We have to abide by a strictly monthly billing schedule.”
Why this is ethical: Your telecom dealer most likely works with a larger internet provider which sends them a bill on a monthly basis. This means that they are only able to know exactly how much your business racked up in charges on a monthly basis. If they agree to bill you on a cycle outside of the traditional monthly basis, they must either risk underestimating how much your business has used and end up with a financial liability themselves, or they’ll avoid the risk and overcharge you to avoid any charges on their end.
How you should view it: It doesn’t take a genius to realize which decision a smart telecom company is most likely to make when it comes to who they’d rather have stuck with an extra financial liability; stick to the monthly billing cycle if at all possible.
When should you be cautious? If a telecom agent is too eager to arrange an out-of-the-ordinary rate, you must consider how they plan on being able to do so without putting themselves in danger of ending up with a bill. It might just be that you end up having to overpay in order to have your schedule catered to.

We realize that picking a telecom agency which can help your business make that important transition to the cloud can be nerve wrecking, but it is our hope that this article has brought you some insight as to which type of telecom billing practices are ethical, and which are considered anything but that.
What’s the most outrageous statement that you’ve ever heard a telecom agent say during billing negotiation? Share your experience in the comments section below and we just might answer you directly!

Photos courtesy of 123RF

 

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