The range of telecommunications choices for businesses and individuals has exploded over the last 25 years or so. Having more choices is generally a good thing – just ask anyone who telephone service and equipment were provided by THE one and only phone company for your area. Having more telecom options, however, has created the need for better telecommunications management practices. The most fundamental of the best practice of telecom management is to simply ensure that your phone service is actually still being provided by the telephone company that you originally chose as best for you.
That may sound absurd if you aren’t familiar with the common practice known as slamming. Slamming refers to illegally, or at least unethically, switching a telecom consumer’s service provider without his or her clear consent. Usually slamming changes the victim’s long-distance provider, but can possibly also be used to switch the local call provider. Slamming will likely result in a customer paying higher rates for calling services than those charged by their original, intended service provider.
Slamming complaints make up one of the largest categories of complaints to the Federal Communications Commission. The FCC’s Enforcement Bureau is empowered to take actions against slammers when they receive a consumer complaint, but as always the best remedy is prevention. The FCC recommends these precautions against slamming:
- Review each phone bill you receive promptly and thoroughly. If you see charges from a phone company other than your own carrier, call that company and ask for an explanation.
- Firmly tell telecom telemarketers that you do not want to switch phone carriers. Do not answer “yes” to any telemarketers’ questions, as your “yes” could be recorded and used as proof that you consented to a switch.
- Read the fine print in any sweepstakes entries you fill out. You may be authorizing a phone company switch by signing the sweepstakes form.
- Read carefully any mailings you may receive regarding your telephone service. Do not respond to letters asking you to “verify” a change of providers if you didn’t initiate such a change.
- Put a freeze on your existing telephone company by telling them never to process a switch request unless it’s a written authorization that comes directly from you.
- If you’ve already been billed by a slammer, don’t pay their invoice. Call your original provider and tell them what has happened. Ask to be switched back. Also call the slamming company and tell them that they have made an unauthorized change. The law requires that you be switched back promptly. You are not required to pay charges made by the unauthorized provider for up to 90 days of their service.
A telecom consulting and management company like Telanalysis specializes in ensuring that its clients get the most for their telecommunications expenditures. A phone bill audit along with ongoing phone bill monitoring by Telanalysis can prevent your company from becoming a victim of slamming.