1. “Too good to be true” pricing – Ever heard that “if something looks too good to be true, it probably is”, well that has never been more true than in the world of telecoms! Over and over again we hear stories of providers (yes even the networks) who promise prices that are extraordinarily lower than other companies. If this happens be careful – make sure they are quoting the price for what you actually need. Too often companies will put businesses on very low plans knowing that they will rack up huge overspend charges which they can then profit off of later.
How to avoid: Do your homework. Make sure you have a handle on which plans you are on currently and what you actually need. Don’t be bullied into what sounds good, make sure you have a handle on what you will really need. Overspend charges will often end up costing you much more than if you were on a higher plan (that covered what you needed) in the first place. Finally once you sign keep a close eye on your bills and query any strange charges - we have customers who have saved hundreds with proper bill analysis.
2. Expect the unexpected – When something unplanned happens do you have a contingency plan? If you have a user who starts travelling more than expected are you happy with the roaming bundles on your chosen network? Or if a user goes over their agreed data bundle what are the out-of-bundle charges? Can the user go on spending without their knowledge or has the data been capped to avoid an overspend? Are your handsets insured and if so do you know the warranty period? Are you paying for handsets upfront or do you get a kit fund included in your plan –what are the terms of how & when this can be used?
How to avoid: We cannot always foresee what will happen, so it is worth asking questions about charges or circumstances you may run in to down the line. Cheap and cheerful plans often leave businesses vulnerable to extra fees for anything out of the ordinary – so make sure you ask upfront.
3. Service that makes you smile – Who is going to manage your plan and is your solution sustainable? If you decide to manage your solution in house what will this mean for your team trying to trouble-shoot end-user issues? Do you have a dedicated Account Manger and if so is it easy to get in touch with them? Is the first line support a general call centre and if so how quick is their response time? Without an Account Manager can they guarantee consistent service? It is especially important to ask your provider about their turn-around time on things like new handsets or handset replacements. You may need next day replacements but is this something your provider offers?
How to avoid: Phones are fundamental to the basic functions of your business and any delays can have a big impact on your employees. Too many businesses make assumptions that providers will offer the level of service they require. Avoid this by ensuring upfront that there is a clear agreement on what you expect from your provider and that they are committed to delivering this. Get in writing turn-around times, additional service fees and contact details to the relevant people to get the best possible customer service. If you don’t have an agreement in writing it is difficult to querying the service you receive down the line.
4. Handset Hand-back – Are you trading in handsets and receiving way below their value. This one is particularly sneaky! Some companies will let you out of contracts early or offer a new handset at a discounted rate – if you trade in your old handsets. What they aren’t telling you is that often the early termination fee or upfront contribution to your handset is much lower than the price of the handset.
How to avoid: With just a little bit of homework you could save that extra cash and put it towards better handsets or tariffs. Firstly ask questions about the early termination fees before you sign anything – don’t wait until you want to upgrade. Then do some research on what you could get for your handsets. Many providers will buy the handsets outright but they are many comparison websites that will give you an idea of what yours are worth.
5. They see me roaming – Roaming charges can be absolutely ridiculous yet many businesses do not ask about them upfront. When it comes to roaming not all networks were created equal. Some offer brilliant roaming packages across the board, others let you use your UK allowance in certain roaming “zones”. In some cases the roaming options available to you are entirely dependant on the plan you are on. Other networks offer no roaming solutions at all. Do not wait until your users are abroad to consider the charges they may be racking up. Most importantly make sure your end users know what they can and cannot do without running into additional charges will roaming. While some networks will cut off data usage abroad others do not – your users need to take note of data, voice & text charges, once the charges incur it is often too late to query them.
How to avoid: Think about countries your users are likely to roam on and ask about your networks’ roaming solutions before you sign. If you want to sign with a certain network but don’t like their roaming solutions find out if your provider offers a “global sim” exclusively for roaming. Make sure you call your provider before your users go away and get a clear idea of what the extra charges will be and which bundles they will need – before they leave!
Doing just a little bit of homework can save you a huge amount on your telecoms solutions. Before you start a conversation with a network or provider make sure you have a handle on which plans you are currently on. Talk to your users about what is currently working and what isn't. Do some research, get a handle not just on upfront prices but on your options - whether it's roaming charges, handset costs or call costs - knowledge is power. Finally, assumptions can be costly - ask questions that go beyond the obvious before you sign anything! Asking questions upfront can help you build a picture of what to expect both in terms of cost and service, to avoid disappointment down the road.