Telecom isn’t all fun and games. I don’t know a single person that looks forward to calling his or her local phone or cable company. And most business people would rather sit in rush hour traffic than to manage a service transition.
Installation windows: Telecom installations move at their own pace and there’s almost nothing that can be done to speed up the process. If you’re anxious to have your new business phone or internet services installed, the telecom gods will catch wind and throw a porting issue at you to slow down the process. The most maddening part is the lack of updates and information in the early stages of an installation. There is a lot of behind the scenes work that needs to be completed early on and many times a week or two could go by without hearing a peep from your new provider. Also, your new carrier is at the local phone company’s mercy to complete its portion of the order. That’s never fun. Phone number porting requires some time. It all adds up. When I first started selling telecom, three weeks was the norm but now, that figure has become four to five. Best advice is to start earlier than you think is necessary. Installs can be pushed back but are hardly ever expedited.
Upfront costs: Even if the carrier bidding for your service “waives” their install charges there will most likely be upfront costs associated with your order. The demarc might need to be extended and you’ll need to pay your phone vendor and IT person to connect your new phone or internet service to your phone system or computer network. Carriers deliver your service to the demarcation point in your building. That’s not necessarily located in your office suite. You’ll need to pay the carrier or your phone vendor to extend the demarc to your phone closet.
Taxes and Surcharges: Even if you ask, carriers won’t quote taxes and surcharges. It’s always their monthly price, “plus taxes and surcharges.” The trouble is, taxes and surcharges can vary substantially from one carrier to another. And typically, it’s the low price provider that will charge the most for taxes and surcharges. Telecom agents deal with multiple companies and have a better idea how one carrier’s surcharges compare to others. Telecom agents are also more apt to disclose the information than a direct rep from a company that charges a premium.
Term agreements: Most businesses are resistant to signing long-term telecom agreements. But, on the other hand, they don’t want to shop for new services either. Carriers, like AT&T, CenturyLink and Verizon, price their services in such a way that shorter terms don’t make sense financially. Because most companies don’t enjoy the procurement or service transformation process, signing a 36-month agreement shouldn’t be a concern.
Auto renews: Most business people believe that at the end of their term, they’ll be free to shop. But most carrier agreements include auto renews that require 60 days notice to cancel. If you miss the 60-day window, your contract will auto renew for the original term. So, if you’re ending a 36 month term and miss your auto renew time window, instead of being out of your contract in less than 60 days, you’ll be under contract for 36 months and less than 60 days. Make sure you read your contract and be on the look out for the presence of an auto renew.
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