Why Casual Billing Occurs And How To Deal With It

If your business completes a fair amount of long distance calling, casual billing is something you should be aware of.  The last thing you want is to find out about it after it already occurred and you’re looking at a six figure phone bill.

Casual billing occurs when long distance calling takes place on a phone line without an assigned long distance carrier or if no calling plan has been designated.

Casual billing could occur when:

  • You neglect to choose a long distance provider for a new business phone line.
  • You remove a long distance block on an existing line and don’t designate a long distance provider.
  • You place calls during a transition from one provider to another.
  • You use a 10-10 long distance service without proper registration.
  • You place an international call without having an international calling plan in place. You place an operator assisted long distance call.
  • You’re moving to a new long distance provider and fail to list all your phone numbers in the order paperwork.

A long distance provider’s standard rates are always high, sometimes more than two dollars a minute.  Since long distance billing “lags” it will take a month or more to discover the problem, and long distance providers do not proactively alert their customers.

You can’t expect to be warned if such a circumstance arises because many times you’re not a customer of the long distance provider that’s billing you and typically long distance providers don’t have a mechanism to recognize a problem.

Another reason why providers don’t proactively warn companies when casual billing is taking place is because it’s profitable.  There are no laws or regulations in place requiring the carriers to reverse the charges.

How do you avoid casual billing? 

  • Do a thorough job of inventorying and recording your business phone lines and phone numbers.
  • If you’re making a provider change, utilize your existing long distance billing records, because they will list the phone numbers you make toll calls from.
  • Follow up with your new company to make sure their code has been added to all of your existing phone lines and your calls are billing properly. If you see any unusual figures on your billing then immediately schedule a telecom bill audit.
  • Make sure you sign up for a calling plan for every possible type of long distance, even long distance you don’t typically make.
  • Avoid 10-10 dialing; negotiated long distance rates are always lower and trouble can start if you’re not properly enrolled in a 10-10 program.

What you should do if you discover casual billing after it already occurred?

Remember that the long distance company billing you, unless it’s due to their error, is under no obligation to reverse the charges.  The first thing you need to do is to make sure all long distance calling ceases until the lines are with your desired carrier and on the appropriate calling plans.

If it is with your current long distance provider and the problem arises because you didn’t report all of your phone numbers, gauge your company’s leverage and negotiate appropriately.  If any of your telecom services are coming up for bid or there is any potential new business that you could place with the carrier, use that to establish leverage.

If your business has no business dealings with the casual billing company, utilize any potential business as a bargaining chip to help you negotiate.  Another option would be to designate the company your contracted long distance provider.  Since they’ll be receiving all your future long distance billing they should rerate the casual billing calls.

If the company billing you refuses to help, you have three choices:

  • Pay the bill.
  • Refuse to pay and hope to negotiate a settlement.
  • Refuse to pay and let the bill go to collections and negotiate a lower settlement amount.

Casual billing can seem like a nightmare but if you have an experienced telecom consulting firm working on your behalf, they should be able to help. Established telecom consultants should have experience working through similar situations, typically they don’t charge an upfront fee, but share in the amount they’re able to reduce the what’s owed to the casual billing company.

If you need help to resolve a casual billing situation or would like to receive more information about CarrierBid’s telecom consulting services, please complete the form on the right side of this page.

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