Lately, it seems like we are all operating in “the land of the unexpected”.  One of our customers experienced an issue with their toll-free service and it turned into a significant cost event.  I wanted to pass along some best practices and advice on how you can mitigate it if it occurs and avoid it in the future.

This was a large enterprise who was using one of the large carriers for their toll-free service.  Like most carriers this one has a contract structure where if a particular service is not included in the actual contract the customer has signed, its pricing is controlled by the dreaded “Service Guide” – usually at crazy high rates.

Well, this customer didn’t expect a global pandemic where its reps work from home and they would need a feature used to route calls to rep’s home phone lines.  This feature was not in their existing contract and therefore was priced using the service guide at very high rate.  So high in fact, that it amounted to > $1M per month in extra feature charges!

This is a big lesson learned – and a costly one!  In this case, a new scenario developed that was not planned for and it impacted the services and features used.  Here are some immediate steps you can take to address this issue if it occurs and some longer-term initiatives to make sure situations like this do not bite you in the future.

Immediately . . .

  • Contact your carrier and have bills re-rated at a reasonable rate to receive credits.  Given the usage is originating on carrier’s platform it should be rated at most at the dedicated/switched rate in contract (this was TDM voice).
  • Review the service and features in your current contract and add this feature and any other that may be used into the contract at rates commensurate with customer spend volumes.

Regularly . . .

  • Conduct network service / cost assessments any time major changes occur in how services are used in the hope to identify issues like this one – add this to your DR / continuity plan.
  • Review how toll-free services are delivered overall.  In this case, the enterprise was using one primary carrier for all toll-free on TDM.  A better approach is to migrate to a multi-carrier, SIP-based, toll-free network.  The customer would have much more control over its routing while adding significant network resiliency and saving upwards of 50% on the transport costs – a “win-win”!

Have you seen any pandemic-related IT expense budget busters?  And how have you addressed them?