Coping with International Travel Costs
Finally, Carriers are Providing Options
International wireless travel charges are one of the most frequent surprises on company invoices. Whether it comes in the form of one rogue employee on vacation or from a steady flow of legitimate but unmanaged executive wireless travel usage, an increasing portion of wireless invoices are international charges. There are no simple features to address international voice charges but there are ways to at least mitigate international messaging and data charges. The most shocking charges we’ve seen on client invoices come from international data usage. Recently one user managed to generate over $24,000 in international data overage charges – a situation that could have been controlled and substantially minimized if proactive action had been taken.
There are two ways in which international charges can accumulate unneeded costs on your invoice. First, the most obvious and painful charges accrue from individuals using international voice, messaging, or data while roaming on pay-as-you-go rates. The second often arises from overreaction to overage surprises, where administrators permanently place international add-on features on users that tend to travel frequently. While these charges are usually smaller than the overage surprises, they continue to accrue month after month whether an individual is traveling or not. A $120 international data option left on a device when it is not needed will more than double the monthly cost of that device.
Fortunately there are solutions and methodologies to limit the damage to your invoice from international charges.
Partial Month International Features – For some time now, U.S. carriers have not forced international data and messaging options to span an entire bill cycle. Plans may now be turned on and off for periods of just a few days and the user only pays for that portion of the monthly fee when the option is enabled. When using only partial month features make sure that you factor in the fact that the included feature amount will also be prorated – 3 days in a month will provide only 1/10th of the indicated units included. Carriers are also permitting the ability to assign the option retroactively as long as the bill cycle has not lapsed. If you received notification to add a feature after the traveler has left the country you can back date the effective start date to cover any use already incurred, an unusually generous carrier consideration.
Capping the Option Time Period – Carriers now permit a preset end-of-feature date when it will come off of the device. If the employee has communicated their travel window, the options can be put into effect for only the days needed. Leaving international features on devices that don’t experience constant travel needs can be expensive. If your Mobility Management Solution doesn’t scan for unused features, you will be well served to always list an end-of-feature date when turning on international features in the carrier portals.
Provisioning Work Flow – The Best-in-Class approach to managing international feature additions and removals is to have the functionality to request these changes via an ordering portal that is available to end users. End users will know best their travel schedule and giving them the opportunity to submit those requests themselves will be the most efficient. Your provisioning system should support the ability to provide start and end dates to the travel schedule so that those fulfilling the request can preset the end date of the international feature.
These few simple tips can result in large savings on your carrier bills.