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$2,500 Recurring Telecom Costs … and Invoice Auditing Tales for all.

Posted by Chris Thierry | February 11, 2011 8:15 AM
Author: Kim Leahy

So, you don’t need a TEM.  You have it all under control and spreadsheets are the way to go ...

Excel Sheet

$2,500 in Recurring Monthly Charges you said?

In a recent audit engagement, I noted a $2500 monthly recurring charge for a single DID normally costing about $2.00 at the time.   It turns out the carrier’s billing clerk inadvertently coded the service charge for a termination as a DID.  It went on for almost 2 years before it was detected. You do the math!

So I called a suspicious number that I was quite sure was a home office and received a message indicating a voice mail full condition, and I was able to catch the recorded name on the service.  Sure enough I found the name in the company directory for which I was conducting the audit.  The employee answered and informed me,  “Not to worry , she had just put a cancellation in of the service as she was now working back in the office”.  No problem. I contacted the Service Desk to confirm the order.  They  assured me service 905-xxx-xxxx had been cancelled.  I called back the employee to ask about 519-xxx-xxxx, the number I had called indicating a  voice mail full condition.  She informed me she hadn’t lived at that address for over 10 years. Two lines at approximately $50/month each had never been cancelled.  Once again, you do the math.

Several years ago, I was working for an organization that subscribed to a long distance plan from one of our major Canadian suppliers.  I made an effort to go paperless, but occasionally I would get these reports dumped on my desk which I systematically ignored because I had it all under control !!!!

Right....Escalating Monthly Long Distance Charges!

In a cleaning mode one day, I started skimming through the reports, and immediately was drawn to a recurring and escalating charge month over month..... $300, $800, $1600 $2000, $6000...... This was the month over month long distance charge on a service provided by an incumbent provider out West.  It turns out the service had been cancelled, removed from billing but the incumbent’s  Repair had never physically disconnected the service; therefore the 3rd party LD was still  active.  The new occupant had located the active line and invited his friends and family to “reach out and touch someone.....”  Well at least they got to make overseas calls free to friends and family over the course of several months.  The local carrier was on the hook for the costs.

In another incarnation I was preparing a set of PBXs that had been leased over a 5 year period for return to the leasing company.  Turns out I was short over 900 handsets at $325 a pop.  This represented 40% of the organizations work force and 900 more phones that could possibly be configured to their current complement of PBX’s. The only thing I could come up with was that the person in charge who had since left the company had a Telecom equipment remarketing company on the side.  I recommended an audit of bill to and ship to orders, but in the end, I understand the organization paid the bill.   Fast forward to the age of  cellular, Blackberry,  IPADs and Aircard – how many devices are you paying for?  And how many employees are on the payroll? 

Custom Billing on your Invoice...Beware.

Beware of custom billing from your carrier.  It may not be reflecting the subsequent MACD activity.  When I uncovered an account for which the month over month charges never changed,  yet numerous out orders had been placed over several months,  even the carrier couldn’t figure it out!   The outcome? The carrier insisted they took the hit for the undetermined overcharges. But who knows?

Have you ever been hit with a onetime charge of some significance – where the carrier playing catch up -  that required an explanation to your boss?  OUCH!

So I ask again, how robust are your processes? Have you thought of TEM? What is stopping you?


Topics: Bill Shock, Telecom Expense Management, Cost Transparency, tem

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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