The top 10 traps can be avoided if your prepared to not rush in and focus on get the answer “Yes” to all the obvious questions. Most Telco’s are honest and want to explain their ongoing cost and all the options so that you the customer can make an informed decision. It could be that some of these traps aren’t traps to you and your business works with in a specific ethos
1. Introductory offers
An offer for a telephone service may be presented as a loss-leading £11.99 a month for the first six months. But check what happens after that. If it rises to £25.99 per month, and carries a minimum term of two years, then you would actually save money by choosing a deal with a fixed monthly rate of £21.99.
2. ‘Bundled’ minutes
In tariffs for landline and mobile services, having the first so many minutes per month ‘free’ has become the norm, but this can make it harder to evaluate suppliers on a like-for-like basis. When comparing tariffs, work out the total cost for a standard level of activity which takes you outside the bundled allowance.
3. Minimum fees, setup fees and per-minute billing for calls
Telephone companies will publish a rate per minute to make calls. But they are less willing to publish any of the following:
- A minimum cost per call
- A set-up fee per call
- Billing by the next whole minute (rather than second)
- If you make lots of short calls, these mechanisms can increase your bills substantially. For example, at 5p per minute, ten 20-second calls can cost 17p if they are charged by the second but 50p if they are charged per minute. They can also make your itemised bills confusing.
4. Capped call charges
A deal that says, for example, that a local call won’t cost you more than 10p, looks attractive. But before you accept it, check what evidence you have that a significant proportion of your calls last long enough to cross the 10p threshold. Remember also that the capped call mechanism may make an itemised bill more difficult to understand.
5. Low rates for certain types of number
Do not be seduced by low rates for calls to certain types of number, as these may be subsidised by other calls. For example, you may pay little or nothing for calls to landlines, but if you make lots of calls to other numbers, this can substantially increase your bill.
6. Use of licences for switchboard facilities
Separate licences may enable facilities such as call recording or voicemail. If you think you may need these facilities later, check on the cost of activating them by a licence.
7. ‘Commitment’ packages
The world changes in ways we don’t expect. A deal that ties you down for more than a year may look attractive, but if circumstances force you to cancel before the end of the term, you may incur heavy penalties which wipe out the original ‘saving’. Check these penalties before signing anything.
8. BT’s Payphone Access Charge
If you have a freephone (0500, 0800 or 0808) number and you receive a call from a BT payphone, you may be charged an additional premium (at least 10p per minute at time of writing) to receive the call if your freephone service is not provided by BT.
9. End-of-lease equipment return
Leasing equipment such a switchboard means there is no capital expenditure and spreads the cost of ‘ownership’, but your contract may require you to return it at the end of the term if you do not want to upgrade it. The costs of ripping it out and sending it back to the leasing company may be prohibitive.
If you wanted to dispute an item within a bill (e.g. an inappropriate service charge) and are refunded, then you should make sure that the refund includes VAT where applicable.