Even though billing engines used by wireless carriers today show a level of improved accuracy over older wireline billing applications, the sheer complexity of telecom billing guarantees billing anomalies. Add the risk of manual keystroke errors on the high volumes of data transactions by carrier staff and you’ll find there is opportunity on practically every invoice to uncover disputable charges.
Manual error checking of invoices with hundreds or even thousands of individual devices is tedious and will most certainly produce a negative ROI by creating more work effort than you will find in savings. Carrier policies of only crediting invoice discrepancies up to six months puts additional bounds on the potential returns of a scrupulous audit. In our experience, while the magnitude and frequency of invoice errors is relatively small, there is higher emotional satisfaction from receiving carrier credits for billing overcharges than finding an equivalent savings through rate plan optimization.
Automated solutions offer a much more cost-effective approach to identifying charge discrepancies. Some Enterprise Mobility Management solutions, such as MobilSentry™, perform a comprehensive set of monthly invoice validation checks to highlight areas where carrier credits are likely. While there are more credit opportunities than the areas listed below, the following highlight the more common and costly errors that occur on wireless invoices.
Overlooked Contract Changes –when you negotiate a new contract with your carrier it may result in new concessions organically generating reduced costs on plans or features. When these contractual changes occur, a parallel effort is required to update wireless device records so they correctly bill at the new rates. Often these changes are done via batch updates. Unfortunately these changes don’t always update leaving some number of devices still billing at the older rates. Do not assume just because a price change is documented in the contract it will make its way to every applicable device on your invoice. While these overcharges may be small on one device, replicated over a range of devices makes finding these errors a lucrative endeavor.
Waived or Reduced Fees – if you have been successful at negotiating reduced or waived activation or termination fees, it is not uncommon for devices to slip through at the full fee. While the carriers are quick to apply the credits they are not in the business of self-monitoring so it will be up to you to surface any overcharges.
Missed Terminations – because terminations require manual actions it is common to find billing charges are not removed from the bill in a timely fashion. When porting between carriers, the device may continue billing with the previous carrier as well as the new carrier. A sophisticated EMM solution should provide the ability to set the status on a device which has been terminated or ported and monitor subsequent months to confirm it vanishes from the bill within the expected timeframe. A smartphone billing two to three months past the expected termination date can quickly add up to hundreds of dollars.
Overages on Equipment Purchases – manual ordering processes for wireless asset purchases can lead to miscoded credits and discounts. Identifying these types of errors can be complicated when equipment charges appear on a subsequent invoice to the date that they were ordered and activated. Given the higher average cost per device for smartphones and tablets, the discrepancies can be sizeable.
Discount Errors – less common but nonetheless rewarding searches can be focused on ensuring devices are all being charged at the correct discount levels. These errors are not frequent but can be instigated by a changing discount schedule accompanying a new contract.
The examples noted above are some of the most common invoice discrepancies that we find for our clients. Others include incorrect access rates, double feature billing and incorrectly billed taxes. How comfortable are you that your wireless invoices are free of billing errors?