Auditing services cut telecom costs - Page 2

By Paul Korzeniowski | Posted Oct 7, 2000
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The criminal factor

In addition to human error, criminal activities can create billing problems.

Slamming is the changing of a firm's long-distance service from one carrier to another without the proper authorization, and cramming is the addition of extra services (voice mail, call waiting) without a company's consent. This type of activity is increasing because carriers engaging in the practice understand their changes can be hidden in the thick pile of monthly telecommunications bills.

"Slamming and cramming are increasing because carriers engaging in these practices understand their changes can be hidden in the thick pile of monthly telecommunications bills."

Changed services

The last set of possible savings stems from network configurations. With corporate networks rapidly evolving and carriers' calling plans constantly changing, firms may be able to save money by adjusting their services. Tele Guard Systems says it used this technique to cut one company's mobile communications costs by $1,000 per month, reduced a manufacturer's bill from $1,500 to $600 per month, and saved a third company $400 by changing its voice mail system.

Savings are also possible with special services, such as calling cards. The rates for these services are often much higher than for other offerings, such as 800 lines, so a firm can lower costs by moving employees from the former to the latter. In certain cases, these services are misused--for example, cards may be used by former employees and family members. Once identified, this practice can be stopped.

Taxes

Taxes represent another potential area of savings. Few companies check to determine if they qualify for any local business exemptions.

Audits can help!

Carriers don't have much incentive to fix these problems. They are in business to make money, which means delivering additional services or driving up customer usage. Rather than identify potential savings, they focus on convincing customers to spend more.

Consequently, the onus falls on the telecommunications manager to monitor and clean up any problems. This work can be difficult, because dealing with telcos often isn't easy. They are large, bureaucratic organizations, and local account representatives lack the time and expertise needed to help companies examine their bills.

Telecommunications auditors are willing to take on the work with virtually no risk for their clients. Typically, these firms operate on a contingency basis: If they don't identify any billing discrepancies, then they don't get paid.

From experience, these firms have a gained an understanding of where problems may lurk. We've worked with enough companies so we can quickly determine whether or not we can save them enough money to make it worthwhile for them to work with us, said Ken Spint, a consultant with Access Utilities and Telephony Services Inc., a Solana Beach, Calif., auditing firm. If a company has only a couple of offices and a few services, then the savings potential may be low. If they have a lot of remote offices and a variety of services, chances are good that we will find some significant savings.

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