It’s easy to drop your guard when you’re dealing with a business phone and internet service provider, like AT&T, Verizon or CenturyLink, but doing so could cost you. Here are four telecom red flags; if they come up, beware.
Cheap Pricing Listed on Your Bill – If you look at your telephone bill and see a below market rate (in the $199 range) for your internet T1 and then somewhere else on the bill there’s a delivery charge close to the same amount, your provider is trying to pull a fast one on you. What they’re hoping for is, whenever you’re approached by another carrier’s rep, you’ll quote the partial rate, not the entire amount you pay for the service. If that happens, the other rep will feel that he can’t compete with price. Even if they know the game, that person will be in the unenviable position of arguing with you about what you’re truly paying for your service. Either way, he can’t win. The actual price of your T1 is the T1 price plus the delivery charge (or whatever they decide to call it on your bill). Most likely your carrier is listing the port charge for your T1 separate from the local loop charge but the service requires both.
Your Carrier Wants to be Your Partner – Simply put; this means your carrier wants an exclusive relationship with your company, eliminating any outside competition. There can be a number of reasons why you’re supposed to go along with this: some of your locations are difficult to deliver service to; your company requires a wide variety of telecom services; all of your locations are networked… It might be easier to enter into such a relationship but it will always cost you more money. If you don’t want to deal with a number of different providers, work through a telecom consultant. The only way to achieve market leading telecom rates is to have multiple carriers bidding for your business.
Streamlined Contracts – Your provider produces a two-page agreement for a business phone or internet service. It seems too good to be true; a simple, easy to read agreement without a slew of terms and conditions. It is too good to be true. Contracts like these refer to the carrier’s service guide (usually stored on the internet), which contains a number of terms and conditions that are all skewed in the carrier’s favor. It’s one thing to be presented with a number of unfavorable terms of conditions; it’s another to have them hidden from you. Entering into an agreement for services under these conditions is like driving with your eyes closed.
Drummed Up Administration Charges – These come mostly from competitive local exchange carriers. They offer low rates for services but tack on additional fees on their bills. They range from $25 to $50 a month per bill. They’re nuisance fees; not enough money to battle over but still annoying. The best plan is to be aware of their existence and demand full disclosure from your carrier rep before you sign. If you get everything in writing beforehand, you might be successful getting these fees waived if they appear on your bill.
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