Telecomms users have launched a campaign to get billing information in plain English from their suppliers, because they are fed up with the jargon ridden correspondence they receive.
According to a survey of 400 users by the Telecommunications Managers? Association (TMA), 36 per cent said their companies lose money through inaccurate billing.
The TMA has developed an online interactive system that requires operators to fill in a questionnaire about their billing options and levels of service against criteria set out by the TMA. Users are then able to use the system to analyse and compare operators against the information provided.
Users say they find it impossible to use their bills to do useful tasks such as analyse usage and determine where and whether services should be improved or acquired.
Said Paul Fegan, chairman of the TMA?s billing special interest group: ?If our members spend #8.6 billion annually on telecomms and IT, and they are losing one per cent of that to bad billing practices, that?s #86 million every year and for only 1,700 companies."
In the same TMA survey, BT and AT&T have consistently scored the lowest points for billing clarity, accuracy and how well queries are resolved. Worldcom, Energis are among the top three, but even their scores are less than ?excellent?.
The TMA service, called Billing for Business, took two years to develop. Suppliers provide data on billing information, analysis, presentation and process. Version one of the software enables users to specify their own requirements and suppliers to develop better billing products. In version, now in development, an interactive analyser will provide instant, impartial matching of suppliers? billing services according to the customer?s specified needs.
Said Fegan: ?We were not aiming at some equivalent of rocket science here. As professionals with front line operational and budgetary responsibilities we had simply wanted a guide to best practice from both sides of the telecomms industry, and there wasn?t one.?
The initiative is already backed by cable operator NTL, and the TMA said it is in discussions with a number of other telcos.
BT and AT&T failed to respond to calls by press time.
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