Avoid the Shock of Your First Bill

Minimizing the Potential for Billing Issues

PLEASE NOTE: We used the word “minimized”.  For any of us that have been involved with telecom services, there seem to always be some form of billing challenge.  Sometimes they make sense, while other times you have to assume the carrier mixed up your network with someone else’s.  But, there are some steps that you can take to “minimize” the pain.

Contracts – Confirm your contracted rates match up with those on the proposal for services to which you agreed.  No matter what you have in writing or your carrier sales person told you, the billing will reflect the contract rates.  Or, at least it will when you are done getting it fixed.

Track Your Dates – Most billing starts when a service is turned up and ready to be used.  This does NOT necessarily mean that you are using it.  This could be service activation prior to porting telephone numbers.  For a multi-site network, some nodes may be ready awaiting the readiness of other sites.  So, if there are other steps that need to be accomplished to finalize the implementation, it is vital that you stay on task.  It is also important to note that there are sometimes gray areas, especially in multi-location implementations.  Again, it is important to track all of the activation dates.  And, carriers have been known to start billing for services within a given period of time after notice to the customer of readiness.

Bill Reviews – It is understood that reconciling billing is not an enjoyable task, but it is critical that you review your bill upon receipt.  Match up the start date from the bill with your records.  Compare the rates on the bills vs. what is on your contract.  Carriers often have a window after which time the billing is assumed to be accurate.  And, the longer you wait, the harder it is to get resolution.  Any billing issues you find should be communicated in writing.

Billing Dispute – If/when you identify an issue with your billing, make sure the carrier puts your bill into dispute.  This will help you avoid service cancellations, late payment charges and nasty collection calls.  We have also found the first billing cycle payment is most important.  Carriers are quick to terminate services if bills go unpaid.

Pay What You Owe – Although we generally recommend making a full payment and await credits for the incorrect charges, this is not always an option, especially if the overcharges are significant.  Making a partial payment based on what you think you should owe can minimize significant payments when everything is corrected.

Prepare a Spreadsheet – We often find that showing a carrier the billing issues is much more productive than just stating that there are issues.  Compare your bills vs. your expectations and provide actual deviations.  Depending on the complexity of your project and the number of locations involved, there can be a series of issues to document as well as numerous credits to track.

Disconnect Unneeded Services – Too often we find that customers have neglected to make a formal request to disconnected prior services.  Most carriers require at least 30 days written notice to stop billing.

Other Potential First Bill Issues

  • Install charges may be included that should have been waived.
  • Incorrect rates and/or discounts are applied.
  • Because carriers generally bill in advance for services, there are often pro-rated charges from the activation date plus the service costs for the next 30 days.
  • Incorrect activation dates are used to determine charges.
  • If you are tax exempt, make sure that there are not any incorrect charges.

If you have been engaged in telecom services for any given time, you know that billing can always be a challenge.  However, by following many of these steps and carefully monitoring costs, you can minimize this opportunity or at least shorten the time it takes to reconcile the results.

Orion Communications Project Management

When Orion is engaged to assist with telecommunications implementations, it is one of the areas which is included in our process.  We will always review the first billing and ensure it is accurate.  If there are discrepancies, we will work with you and the carrier to reconcile the issues.  Your only requirement is to provide us the initial billing upon receipt and likely some subsequent billing to ensure progress.  Our team will do all of the legwork.