Five Questions to ask your Telecoms Supplier

Making Sure you get the right telecoms contract for your business

You may have read our previous blog about charities being ripped off – Click here to read that!

We have noticed that the same thing has been happening with Telecoms Suppliers recently.

We have a list of questions that it is important to ask your Telecoms supplier:

How long a contract would we have to enter?

There are lots of tricks out there around contract length. Look out for things like:

  1. Long notice periods, often over a year, otherwise you’re locked in for another period of time
  2. No notifications, so that they auto-renewal date slips by and you’re stuck again
  3. Every invoice payment is classified as a contract renewal (!) – seen a few of these recently

We recommend you always get a specific time period stated in the contract, usually no more than three years. If contracts are much longer than this, you are highly likely to be paying more than you should.  The high level of competition in the market means that prices are constantly changing, usually downwards, so you can miss out on savings if you sign for more than three years. Make sure the notice period is reasonable too.  There is absolutely no reason why it should be any more than three months.

What would our line rentals and call costs actually be?

As we alluded to above, prices can change quickly, so you need to be sure what you are paying for.  Line rentals and call charges can vary significantly, dependent on the volume of calls made and the length of the call.

If you make lots of very short calls, you are likely to be better off on a per-minute, or even per-second, call costs basis.  If your calls are longer and can vary in length, you should consider charges per call.  We frequently see these the other way around so that the telecoms company makes more money.

Something that is frequently promised is a guarantee that you will always be on the lowest call charges. This is a great line for getting the contract signature, but it is rarely delivered upon as many providers don’t regularly review the market and pass these savings on to you.

Would we own the system outright at the end of the contract?

The value of telephone system hardware is minimal after a few years, even without the depreciation you use within your accounting. Even so, many companies will add clauses into contracts that spread the cost of the hardware over a much longer period than the contract length.  This means you either face a big invoice to get out of the contract or, much more likely, you simply renew and stay with them.

This is especially true when companies offer you a “free telephone system” as part of the deal.  It is never free!

What make and model of system would you offer and with which handsets?

Make sure you are getting up to date hardware when buying a new telephone system. One phone system box looks like another to non-techies and some companies will talk about the latest from Ericsson or Avaya, but then actually supply a much older unit. At a point you then want increased functionality, there are high costs involved because that unit doesn’t support the functionality you want.

Would the line rental and call costs be fixed until the end of the contract?

Mid-term price rises are becoming more and more frequent, so make sure that your contract fixes the costs. Alternatively, you have a 30-day window of opportunity to cancel your contract after any price rise.  Many telecoms providers will fail to remind you of this, but it is a legal requirement.  If they haven’t told you of your right to cancel at this point, then give us a call and we can help resolve the matter.

Finally, please ensure you read the contract all the way through. We have seen contract where clauses are placed in very strange places. They rely on people reading certain parts (the beginning, the end and the notice period bit) and not much else.

Let’s be clear. We are not saying that all telecoms providers are trying to catch you out.  The vast majority are decent, honest businesses looking to help you, but there are a number of companies who will resort to various dirty tricks to either make more money or to keep you tied into a contract for much longer. We hope these  five questions to ask your telecoms supplier help you get the telecoms contracts you need for your business. Of course, if you think we can help, please get in touch.