Four steps to drastically reduced bills for phone, wireless and Internet

Are long distance bills, mobile plans or Internet cost eating through your business’s budget?

More likely than not your company is stuck with a contract that’s loaded with features or services that your business has no need of, but is paying for through the nose, said Ryan Zaldin, president of eTopia Communications.

“The majority of the time, business owners are not aware what they’re paying for in their plans. That’s because the contracts are just too complicated and they have no time to delve into it point-by-point,” said Zaldin. His Toronto-based company eTopia helps consumers and businesses audit their mobile phone, Internet, and landline contracts. Then they help them negotiate or find a better deal. eTopia boasts it can cut monthly communication bills by 25 to 65 per cent.

According to Zaldin, contracts for phone and Internet services have become so convoluted that customers can hardly understand them. “What people need is somebody who can speak the industry language and speak as a broker on their behalf before the carrier.”

Aside from that, the 10 employees and three consultants of eTopia also help customers weed out unnecessary services from the contract to further drive down costs. Or they help customers move to another provider with the least amount of penalty costs, or none cost at all.

For its troubles, eTopia collects for a certain period of time, a percentage off the savings realized by the customer. For example, for every dollar saved, eTopia collects 25 cents from the customer. “After the agreed period is over, the customer gets 100 per cent of their savings,” said Zaldin.

  Metals distributor digs up solid savings

This arrangement worked very well for the Canadian arm of Carpenter Technology Corp. a U.S.-based raw metals manufacturing and distribution company.

“We shaved as much as 40 per cent off our cell phone bills and about 70 per cent off our landline bill since we signed up with eTopia,” said Ian Gilcrist, head of the nine-man Mississauga, Ont. operations of Carpenter Technology.

Prior to being approached by eTopia, Carpenter Technology had a three-year mobile phone plan with Rogers Communications that was costing the metal company about $1,100/month, said Gilcrist.

“eTopia found a better contract with Telus. We retained the same voice, data and text services but now only pay $700/month,” he said.

He said an eTopia team came to their facilities and tool a “snapshot” of their mobile, landline, and Internet usage, studied their contracts, provided them with a game plan and then talked to the carriers. “We couldn’t have done it alone. Wading through the contracts is hard enough. But each time we talk to the carrier representatives we kept getting the run around,” said Gilcrist.

Four reasons why your bill is too big

According to Zaldin of eTopia, these are the four major factors why companies and consumers often end up paying too much for communication plans:

Unaudited plans – About 20 per cent of businesses and consumers are stuck with old Internet, mobile, or landline plans that contain services and add-ons which they no longer need or are still being billed under an older but higher rate.

Zaldin suggested that users should revisit their contracts. Investigate if they, or their business can do without some of the services or if carriers are now offering some the features at a lower price.

Overpriced items and utility charges – As much as 30 per cent of users could be paying for overpriced add-ons, said Zaldin. For example, voice and text could have been purchased as expensive “ala carte” services but the carrier already offers these in cheaper bundled plans.

Long distance and data overage charges – Up to 20 per cent of landline and mobile users have problems making sense of long distance and data plans. Many go over their limit and have to pay hefty overage charges or some sign up for too much data or long distance minutes which they never use. Study your usage patterns before signing up for any plan and regularly monitor your usage for any changes.

Roaming costs – Many mobile users who do not frequently travel abroad get dinged by roaming charges. There are, however, some plans that can help minimize the pain. Some carriers offer plans such as 30-day package which has a slightly lower roaming charge than usual. Others carriers provide a block of mobile minutes that can be shared among co-workers.

Other services

Other Canadian companies offer consumers and businesses services similar to those of eTopia. For example, Toronto-based myCELLmyTERMS also helps cell phone users negotiate better plans with their carriers.

However, Zaldin said eTopia also offers what he calls a “mobile concierge service.”

For an additionally monthly fee, eTopia can provide companies services such as:

  • Provide software or hardware technical assistance
  • Phone software update and phone account setup
  • Sourcing and setup of roaming packages for users leaving the country
  • On-site training of BlackBerry, iPhone and other devices
  • Ongoing and regular advice
Nestor ArellanoNestor Arellano is a Senior Writer at Follow him on Twitter, read his blog, and join the IT Business Facebook Page.

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