Sunday, October 24, 2010

FCC Uncovers Mystery Fees Inside Verizon Wireless Bills, Up to 90 Million in Refunds Expected
Over 15 Million customers will get money back from Verizon!  This report seems farfetched, so we dug into the evidence.  Our story comes from two reliable sources, an October 3rd, 2010 Verizon Press Release, and an October 3rd, 2010 FCC Press Release.  The FCC broadcast "We can confirm reports of an FCC investigation into mystery fees that appeared on Verizon Wireless bills costing over 15 million Americans tens of millions of dollars. Reportedly, Verizon itself has put the amount of overcharges at more than fifty million dollars dating back two years.” Michele Ellison, FCC Enforcement Bureau Chief, stated.
Mary Coyne, Deputy General Counsel Verizon Wireless stated “In October and November, we are notifying about 15 million customers, through their regular bill messages, that we are applying credits to their accounts due to mistaken past data charges. We will mail former customers refund checks. In most cases, these credits are in the $2 to $6 range; some will receive larger credits or refunds. As we reviewed customer accounts, we discovered that over the past several years’ 15 million customers who did not have data plans could have been billed for data sessions on their phones that they did not initiate. These customers would normally have been billed at the standard rate of $1.99 per megabyte for any data they chose to access from their phones”.
Ellison says "The FCC Enforcement Bureau began looking into this matter ten months ago after reports from consumers about these mystery fees. Our role is to protect American consumers and give them a voice.  Consumers have a right to receive straight bills and to get straight answers when they question them.  We're gratified to see Verizon agree to finally repay its customers.  But questions remain as to why it took Verizon two years to reimburse its customers and why greater disclosure and other corrective actions did not come much, much sooner.”
What will happen to all the mistakes that are not uncovered by the FCC, the errors not reported by any service provider, and never challenged?  What about all of the mistakes on those wireless bills where services were cancelled, or provider changed, or sadly in today’s economy the business is now closed?  The average person changes cell phone plans almost as often as they buy a new suit.  Data lines change as new and innovative ways to broaden our bandwidth are revealed.  Do you trust your bills?
If Verizon Wireless was challenged for ten plus months to correct this issue why did it take them two years to correct it?  Our challenge is to review all the various Service Providers telecom billings and ensure that any billing error is corrected and recovery is given as soon as possible. 
How can the public be aware of the various tariffs, taxes, contract compliances and surcharges?    It is extremely difficult for an individual to review their cell phone bill.  How can corporations and government entities review their bills?  They have mountains of bills they receive monthly.  They must understand and find the corresponding tariff for each fee inside of each various telecom service and check the contract compliance that goes with each fee.  Add this to the fact that the fees checked last month may vary as they are constantly changing.
Getting something back from Verizon Wireless for these small cell phone bill overcharges is good, but recovery was very slow in coming.  There are thousands of billing errors in both the US and abroad.  Similar problems are found with every telecom service, in every Service Provider, in both US and global markets. Why not uncover the rest of the story inside of all your telecom bills? 

About the Author:
Barbara Clements is the founder & President of Auditel, Inc. (www.auditelinc.com), and Co-founder & Chair of Auditel Expense Management, India (AEM).  For over 19 years Auditel has delivered some of the highest findings in telecom bill tariff, surcharge, and tax recoveries.  Auditel is a leader in the TEM industry and delivers telecom bill expense management and analytics with a forensic approach.  Auditel is known for its attention to detail, customer service, and strong track record in telecom recovery for US Corporations, State, Local, and Federal Government.  We provide a complimentary telecom consultation plus our guarantee that if there is no recovery, there is no fee!  800-473-5655

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

The Worst Telecom Expense Management Ever?
By Barbara Clements

If your company doesn't identify billing errors they will continue to pay them forever. Some contracts stipulate a term on refunds of 60 days. It's time to have a telecom expense management team working on your invoices to determine your strategy, eliminate waste, and obtain savings.
Barbara Clements, President and Founder of Auditel Inc. www.auditelinc.com says "We've found that most companies put little thought into billing errors, they focus on contracts. This leaves so much room for billing errors, mistakes in line inventory, and the list goes on, and on with possible overcharges."
CFO’s, CEO’s, Controllers, and Telecom Managers are getting thoroughly frustrated. Just looking at their phone and telecom bill expense they realize they don’t have the time to dig through the bills, much less spend hours on hold to ask questions. With all the plan changes, carrier changes and line cancellations their bills continue to rise.

Have you ever let you cell phone plan go for a few years only to realize that now the new plans are about half the money you were paying for the old plan? And asking for a credit resulted in even more frustration.

What is the worst telecom expense management ever?
Never reviewing your telecom bills
Not having an independent telecom consultant review your contracts (not a sales person)
Not understanding tariff. Most telecom managers can’t really conduct true telecom expense management.

What have you got to lose by having a true telecom audit?

Your bills will actually lose weight. Bill consolidation can be performed after the audit is completed to reduce workload for the Accounts Payable Team and for the Telecom Manager who is buys keeping your lines and circuits operational.

With a telecom expense audit your bills will cost less and you may get some large and much deserved refunds.

Your goal? Stop wasting time looking at your phone and telecom bills. Find a good telecom expense management company with many references and check them out. Another alternative (if you have the time and staff), is to enroll your staff in a professional telecom expense management training course.

Here are some of tips:
· Look for a company that doesn’t sell any products
· Ask auditing firms that you are considering whether they use optical scanning software to conduct the audit.
· Look for a company that replies quickly via email or phone (slow replies may mean they are too busy to start your audit, or may be very slow in conducting your audit.
· Be certain to ask for references, then contact those references
· Ask if there are upfront fees associated with the audit
· Don’t believe reports that show savings. Ask for the before and after bills for proof savings occurred.
· If you determine you want to keep all the savings in-house then enroll in a telecom expense management workshop. A telecom training workshop will provide a process which your staff will retain more thoroughly than the memorization and note taking in a telecom seminar.

Barbara Clements, President and Founder of Auditel Inc. Auditel Inc. provides telecom expense management and training for corporate and government entities and has for over 14 years. Our telecom audits add protection and savings. Call now for a free consultation 800-473-5655. White papers may be viewed at http://www.auditelinc.com/TelecomWhitepapers.aspx

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Disaster Planning For Critical Lines is Important!

Is your company ready for a disaster?

Will your phone ring and can you answer it during a power outage?

If lightning strikes your phone system will you still receive vital calls?

If a fire or other disaster takes out your building, will your customers still reach you?

Don't wait until a disaster occurs to start planning. Let our trained professionals set up your disaster plan and help you give the customer service your clients deserve. Don't wait until your customers start reaching a disconnected message to inquire about this great service.

Contact Auditel today to discuss disaster planning 800-473-5655.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Mergers and Acquisitions


With increased mergers and acquisitions, changes in Phone Company billing systems, telecom costs are on the rise. Take a closer look at your telecommunication bills. There are many ways that your bills have hidden charges applied, not to mention telecom contracts that were signed without Management approval. It’s time for Management & their Accounts Payable Department to be on the alert for errors, over-billings, and tariff violations.

If more than one person within an organization places orders then overlapping occurs. Mike requested Sally order phone lines for a new call center, Hal heard the request and placed the order as well. Now which lines were installed, those ordered by Sally, or Hal, or both?

One very common oversight found in bill auditing is line cancellation. Sally (the Telecom Manager) is certain she disconnected a line no longer needed. She even dials the number to ensure the line is cancelled. When she hears the disconnected message she feels sure the line will no longer bill. But does the billing stop? Not always. Only a detailed review of the bill, or calling the phone company a month or so later, will determine if the line is no longer billing.

When companies have mergers and acquisitions they inherit the bills from their predecessors. All the contracts they've signed and advertised listings need to be reviewed. Names need to be changed and their billing address revised. Phone equipment inventory and site evaluation needs to be conducted. All lines and circuits need to be identified then documented. Next an audit needs to be conducted to determine if your company is actually paying for what they need, or just paying for what they get.

Many double billings occur because of line portability and businesses changing providers hoping to reduce telecom costs. The lines are ported from the old provider to the new provider and if any error occurs the double billing begins. These double billings of lines, features, and services are easliy overlooked. It is a real challenge for a Telecom Manager to determine when it started, who is at fault, how to prove it, and how to recover the money. This is assuming the Telecom Manager knows how to discover double billing in the first place. Funds are being paid twice for the same services (every month!), and there is a procedure to follow to get this corrected and to obtain the refunds your company is due.

Telecom Management and organization skills are necessary to gain and maintain control of telecom contracts, circuit inventory, advertised lines, features, and telecom equipment. Placing correct orders is the first place to start in any telecom department. Learning to place telecom and phone line orders properly is essential but learning how to review the orders is imperative. Without accurate, detailed records many refunds will not be available.

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