Guest article by Dave Millett, Equinox
From a one-person microbusiness upwards we all need telecoms. The variety available means it’s hard to be certain you’re getting the right deal and you can find yourself with contracts it’s hard to escape from.
Don’t believe everything
You may find suppliers saying “you’re still in contract”. But this isn’t always true. The supplier may have recorded dates incorrectly or could even be trying to mislead you. Ask for a copy of the signed contract, e-contract, or recording of the contractual conversation. The onus is on the supplier to prove the contract dates.
Don’t accept automatic rollovers
Ofcom rules protect consumers and businesses with 10 employees or fewer. The protection bans automatic rollover of contracts and provides the customer the ability to cancel contracts because of prices rises and/or failures to offer promised broadband speeds.
We’ve seen contracts saying ‘tick this box to keep tariffs after contract end date’. There is no mention that by ticking this box you are agreeing to an automatic renewal. But that’s exactly what you are doing – you are renewing for that same term again.
Don’t miss your opportunity to cancel
Some suppliers don’t actively draw your attention to price increases. They may inform you by publishing the change on their website or put it in tiny print on your invoice. Ofcom has ruled that you can opt out of a contract if the price rises provided you give notice within 30 days of being informed. This means that if you miss the notification you miss the option to cancel.
Don’t accept a massive notice period/penalties
Check your notice period before you sign a contract. They may not be as mind-boggling as ‘only on the second Wednesday before the Queen’s birthday’ but there can be huge variations from 30 days to six months. Three years’ notice is the worst we’ve seen! Early cancellation penalty clauses also need to be scrutinised with great care.
Don’t be tempted by blandishments
The advertising may promise your new supplier will save you money. Offers of a free PBX with lower costs may sound good but may turn out to a poor choice in the long run. You need to work through the figures very carefully.
Don’t fall for other tricks
If your contract for calls, line rental or other services have different end dates how will you every end the supplier relationship? Also look out for clauses where your contract restarts automatically if you change or add a service.
Do you have a residential contract?
Ofcoms’ research suggests up to 1/3 of SME users have residential contracts for broadband and landline phones. Many don’t have specified service care levels or have levels that may cause business problems if you lose service. It’s worth looking at the additional costs and service levels your supplier provides on business contracts. It could give you peace of mind.
Always raise issues if you think your supplier has made a mistake or is doing something wrong. Choose a supplier who is signed up to the Ombudsman Service so you can use their dispute resolution if needed.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dave Millett has over 35 years’ experience in the Telecoms Industry. He has worked in European Director roles for several global companies. He now runs Equinox, a leading independent brokerage and consultancy firm. He works with many companies, charities and other organisations and has helped them achieve savings of up to 80%. He also regularly advises telecom suppliers on improving their products and propositions. www.equinoxcomms.co.uk