All phone service providers want to keep their clients; great phone service providers aim to keep their clients happy. When choosing a provider, beware these three questionable billing practices VoIP and traditional telecom services use at the expense their customers.
1. Questionable Cancellation Practices
Sometimes canceling your phone service can feel like a game of never-ending phone tag. Some VoIP and telco providers discourage cancellations with tricky or cumbersome processes (try listening to this 18-minute cancellation call with a major cable provider without pulling your hair out). Vendors might also prolong cancellation by failing to record or honor cancellation requests, all the while charging you for the service you’re trying to cancel.
Sneaky or exorbitant cancellation fees are an additional danger with both landline and VoIP service, and they can cost users thousands. Some vendors have even gone so far as to charge people for cancelling phone service because they’ve died, driving New York to pass a law forbidding providers from charging the deceased with early cancellation fees.
While all companies occasionally make mistakes, repeated reports of cases like these might indicate a system that supports dishonest practices that hinder cancellation efforts.
Great consumer anecdotes—but how do cancellations issues appear for businesses?
- Auto-renewal contracts where the company did not give warning that a renewal was imminent.
- Sales reps become unavailable once you’ve signed your contract, leaving cancellation, renewal and billing questions unanswered.
- Some sales reps will not mention they’ve included an auto-renewal in your contract.
- Exorbitant contract cancellation fees.
- Failure to record or honor cancellation requests.
- Delayed response to cancellations.
Pro tip: Carefully read your contract’s cancellation terms; set reminders on your calendar to avoid penalties for early termination or late cancellation notice.
2. Hidden Fees and Charges
VoIP’s pricing is generally much lower than traditional phone service – and usually VoIP solutions offer a wider array of features in their standard package, and additional advanced features like VoIP toll free numbers at a low cost. However, some providers advertise a base price that doesn’t include all of the features essential to a modern business, such as automated call handling, CRM integration, burstable SIP VoIP trunks and mobile capabilities. Ask prospective providers for a full pricing run-down when estimating your monthly payment.
Pro tip: À la carte pricing is typical with VoIP phone solutions, while telecom providers tend to use bundled pricing. Be sure to factor in all necessary features and lines when comparing prices.
In addition to hidden fees, some companies illegally bill for unauthorized or unfulfilled or items. It’s called ‘phone bill cramming,’ and an estimated 20 million people and businesses fall victim every year. The fees are often small – $9.99 is the most popular amount – and titled generically (i.e., “monthly charge”). When starting with a new provider, thoroughly review your monthly bill, and don’t hesitate to ask about charges you don’t recognize; providers should be able to readily explain them to you.
How do these hidden fees appear for business phone providers?
- Unilateral fee changes without notice or opt-in/opt-out notifications.
- Vague, variable fees that are unexplained, usually seen as “Service Fee” or “Monthly Charge” as a line item.
- Smaller, “negligible” or unannounced pricing changes – especially multiple “small” changes made over time.
- “Regulatory charges” used to help providers cover their own regulation and compliance costs.
- Monthly rental fees for modems and other equipment; these are more common with landline service.
3. False Promises
Some phone service sales reps take closing the deal to the extreme, working closely with potential customers only to leave them without sufficient support as soon as they’ve signed. In fact, there are numerous reports of clients were quoted a low price that the provider did not honor. Promised prices are more likely to fall through the cracks in large companies with disjointed service departments or inattentive customer service teams – check customer reviews for patterns of unreliable quotes when choosing a provider.
Do Your Homework.
It can seem difficult to detect undesirable billing practices when evaluating providers. The best way to find out whether a provider is right for your company is to do some digging yourself. Look into contract terms, price lists and customer reviews, noting any red flags that might indicate questionable billing practices. While an occasional negative review is not unusual, be wary of companies with repeat complaints about service and honesty.
Pro tip: Ask potential providers to include all taxes and fees in their quotes to ensure you’re comparing the most accurate estimates.
Additionally, when considering pricing, note that VoIP is usually much more affordable than landline solutions; VoIP PBXs simply use an existing internet connection, and don’t require the extensive setup and infrastructure that landlines do – all while offering more advanced features than traditional landline systems. Many call centers even use VoIP for their extensive and scalable offerings.
At 4Voice, we dedicate ourselves to honest and quality customer service. Learn about our near-zero customer attrition rate and other benefits of 4Voice’s VoIP phone service in our infographic.