From the desk of:
Keith Venezie, CEO The Eric Ryan Corporation
In this day and age it seems that the old “nickel and dime you to death” adage is in full swing in some utility and telecommunications markets.
Some charges are valid and will be passed on, but others just seem to be total nonsense.
As a bill auditing firm, we see thousands of bills every month and some of the charges that are applied just make us scratch our heads in wonderment. For example, we are seeing some of the utility and phone companies charging what is labeled as a “bill monitoring fee.” The charge ranges anywhere from $10 to more than $50 each month to make sure your bill is correct or that the cost or usage/consumption isn’t out of line.
This charge begs the question as to why this isn’t part of their normal or daily practices and processes. More importantly, why isn’t this built into their tariff and subsequent charges on the bill if there is labor cost to perform this task.
Before a company generates a bill to a customer, it should be validated for accuracy as part of the overall service they provide. What is further concerning is that this fee can be waived each month if a customer takes time to call and request removal.
One of the other charges that gets passed on can be labeled in many other different ways such as “fuel cost adjustment charge” or “tariff cost adjustment” or even “pass through charge.” These charges are a safety net for the utility and phone companies to pass on the cost of doing business that may have been unplanned for or not budgeted for properly. It sure would be nice if I could just randomly pass on a charge my company experiences to my customers because I had to purchase a new computer server or even a copier that I did not have budget for. I have a feeling if I added a line item to my bill stating “cost to purchase new copier in the office” that I would get calls. More importantly, I would begin to lose customers.
In the utility and telecommunications industry as most of you may know, there are no other options to select another provider. The only recourse is to review your billings to the best of your ability or find a consulting firm to do that for you. There are firms that are so confident that they can recover funds or save you money that they will do it on a contingency basis.
If you are not a fan of the shared savings model, then it is best to have the consultant review the billings on a “per bill fee” basis. I would advise not to select a consultant that charges more than $8 per bill to have this service performed. Time is money and with the downsizing or adjustments to responsibilities that employees have, it becomes hard pressed to find time to micromanage utility and phone bills given the tasks and challenges one faces at work today.
There is potential to reduce cost on future billings or recover funds on past billings. The question is, do you have the time to do so.
Eric Ryan Corporation can help: 800-837-6406 firstname.lastname@example.org.