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By Jeffrey Kagan

All companies are vulnerable to overcharges on their telephone bills. Why? Because most receive several different bills each month, often from several different phone companies, each with its own unique billing structure and invoice design. The task of sorting through these bills is awesome.

Then there's the naivete. Many companies think their phone companies will automatically give them the best prices and apply all the discounts for which they qualify. Keep dreaming. In the course of our business, we have audited over 30,000 telephone bills. Four out of five of them have contained billing errors and/or overcharges. You need to look out for yourself.

What You Can Do

But, how? What do you know about telephone rate structures? And anyway, who's got the time? Well, there are some basic and simple things you can and should do.

You need to divide your search for savings into two parts:

1. Review your past bills, looking for overcharges and other billing errors; and

2. Evaluate your needs. Then compare your current service with other available options.

If you find billing mistakes, immediately contact your phone company. Refunds and credits (usually with interest) are available and most phone companies will go back as far as six years. But, you have to be persistent.

What To Look For

One of the most common areas of mistakes comes under the heading of "Monthly Service Charge." This usually represents a myriad of things, all of which should be listed separately on your bill. Make sure you're only being billed for the lines and services, and at the rates, you have ordered.


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