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Wireless Bill Shock or Mobile Cost Ignorance?

Posted by Chris Thierry | November 9, 2010 3:20 PM

Tips and tricks to keep your wireless invoice manageable.

Ever look at your wireless invoice expecting your usual bill, only to be surprised by something else, something much higher?

Welcome to what the telecom industry and the FCC are calling “Bill Shock”.

Bill Shock

While Bill Shock is nothing new, the term seems to be catching on as millions of users can now get labeled by their telco when they call in for invoice relief. The excuses range from:  

“My teenager took the phone when I wasn’t looking…”
“I didn’t know my rates were so high!”
“I’ve never been to the US, why do I have roaming charges? “
“You should have notified me. “

While billing errors do exist, in the vast majority of consumer cases of bill shock, it’s the user that is to blame. Not something people want to hear when they are staring at an invoice for hundreds or thousands of dollars.  

5 Quick Tips to Reduce Your Risk of Bill Shock

1. Know your plan.

Sounds easy, but most often the reason for bill shock is mobile plan ignorance. Wireless devices come with so many features and functions, some people find it difficult to imagine that carriers have found ways to price and package every communication mode from regular voice calling to web surfing to navigation services. The key is to know what you have and if it doesn’t fit, call your carrier to help choose a better plan.

2. Stay Off the Internet Unless you Have a Surfing Package.

While all phones have been digital for some time, you do pay different rates for different types of 1s and 0s. Surfing the web is an activity we do at home or at the office on an almost unlimited basis. However, on a wireless device without a data plan, you are paying mega-bytes at mini-bar prices. Even if you use the web very little, the rates carriers charge encourage people to get on a monthly option or suffer the consequences.

3. Set your Device to ‘Home Region Only’.

This is a setting in your phone options that will keep you from accidentally roaming onto another network. For Canadians living or working close to the US border, just driving along will sometime switch you to roaming mode causing you to run up your bill.

4. When Roaming, Know How and When to Use Your Device

Lots of mistakes get made when using your phones in outside markets. Again, without the appropriate plan, costs on per minute or per MB basis will have you taking a second mortgage.  Since I don’t travel to the US enough to warrant a plan, when I am out, I make sure to turn my data off most of the day. I only turn it on long enough to sync and send emails.  Push email and other apps use data in the background, so while you may not be talking, the roaming data charges are racking up. 

5. Wi-Fi When You Can

Many of the newer phones have Wi-Fi built in, which is fantastic for just about everyone from the road-warrior to the full-time student on tight budget. Use it whenever you can, at home, at work, at a coffee shop or on trips. Look for public hotspots and save big on your data usage.

Enhancing your Mobile Device Policy

Wireless phones are not a simple device to manage; corporations need to help their employees better understand how they use their wireless phones for personal and business purposes, as separating the two is not practical.  These tips could be easily integrated into any corporate mobile device policy and help users not be so ignorant about runaway wireless expenses. Remember “Knowing is half the battle”; this knowledge will assist employees in better managing the freedom of using their technical gadgetry.

Do you have other tips for saving your monthly invoice from Bill Shock? Feel free to share them with us in comments below.

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Topics: Bill Shock, Wireless management

Written by Chris Thierry

Christopher is the president, founder, visionary, and driving force behind Cimpl, which first started in 2000 as Etelesolv: his goal is to bring holistic enterprise solutions to companies of all shapes and sizes. Moreover, Christopher’s devotion to the well-being of his employees has made Cimpl one of Canada’s Top 50 Employers. He’s also dedicated to giving back to his community, by serving in multiple industry associations. He’s a mentor for the Canadian Youth Business Foundation and a member of the Young Presidents' Organization, the Entrepreneurs’ Organization, the CIO Association of Canada, and the Telecom Expense Management Industry Association. Christopher holds a Bachelor’s degree in Management Information Systems and Marketing from the John Molson School of Business at Concordia University. He is also a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's (MIT) Entrepreneur’s Master’s Program – a program specifically designed to optimize the skillsets of founders of high growth companies.

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