Saturday, September 16, 2006

Billing Errors and Client Rights

Its been a while since I made a posting. Frankly I don't know who finds their way to my blog but in the past this space has been a vent of sorts for the daily frustration we as consultants have with the Carriers.

Bell Canada, being one the predominant Canadian monopolistic providers, of course draws a lot of ire and while this is not specifically about them, they are today's expample.

A sales manager friend of mine recently told me that one of my empassioned emails to him was a "good rant". I was recalling how easy it was and how quickly we were able to meet with a customer, sign a contract, issue (our own) paperwork, and negotiate with all the downstream departments in order to meet the required date of a service for a customer. I was "ranting" about the utter lunacy of trying to get something standard such as a T1 (1.54Mbps data channel) installed which today takes 3 weeks of constant badgering at Sales just to get the contracts whereas in yesteryear it would already have been in and working.

Alas, what happens when a customer buys and installs the aforementioned T1 to replace a slower and legacy 56Kbps circuit?

Well, as it turns out, Bell often forgets (rather conveniently) to remove the old circuit from billing. Despite efforts by the customer to have their billings explained by an ever-changing sales team (the Bell sales team revolving door was introduced at the same time with their cool new "spinning ring around the head" logo) the service continues to bill buried within the codes and cryptic USOC's (Universal Service Order Code) ad-infinitim.

Bell will say the onus is on the customer to identify the problem and will tend to hide behind the notion that the client is issued an Equipment Record at least once yearly. The problem with this is the Equipment Record gets buried with a bill that normally goes to accounting and not the Telecom Manager (if one even exists) and also normally these cannot be easily interpreted. (This is where we come in )

Alas, Article 19 of the General Tariff - Terms of Service, still protects clients somewhat when it comes to legacy tariffed services.

1) Clients are entitled to a credit back to date of the error
2) Clients are entitled for interest on the credit due to the error.

So, if the the error date can be identified as in my case above where Bell has sold a newer, faster and more expensive replacement service to replace the old service billing in error, then we have a chance.

They will still try to hide behind the "we sent you an Equipment Record" notion, however, the terms also stipulate when you lose your right for previous credits and that is 365 days after the item has been correctly billed. Correctly billed for this case would be ZERO dollars since the service should have been removed. So, if Bell had removed the item in question on their own accord the client loses the right to claim the error if they don't point out "hey you were overbilling me" within the time alloted. On the other hand, if they keep on billing you, you have the right to point it out and claim a credit all the way back to the error date, with interest, subject unfortuneately to the recently updated Statutes of Limitations as prescribed by Federal law.

You can get your money back. These cases can be drawn out and must be individually argued and as a business owner very time consuming. This is where we can help. As experts in Telecom, we know the angles, have the experience, and with us on your side you can still focus on the day-to-day things that keep you awake at night. I'm pitching again, but we fight your battle for you in a win-win situation.

Sorry Mr. Telecom Carrier, but it wasn't your money in the first place. Give it back!


Post a Comment

<< Home