Originally appeared at Practical eCommerce:
Not all Mistakes That Kill refer to customer service and store-end operations. The costs of doing business also affect the overall “make or break” of an online store.
Telephone and fax charges are a necessity in business, yet many small businesses (usually crunched for time) fail to take the time to peruse statements and make sure they aren’t paying fees which weren’t originally disclosed, or charges on previously-canceled services.
In my own quest to cut down company expenses, I found that for three years my company paid for a service previously canceled with MCI. A former employee paid bills as they came in, never a question, leaving me to find the culprit of many overpayments for services either never rendered or not needed at all. Here’s what I found:
- The long-distance and toll-free charges were grouped into one bill, yet we had canceled MCI as the LD carrier years prior. Until last October, we were billed, and paid for, long distance services we never used.
- In analysis of what we use and what we don’t, we found picture and text services on some of the cell lines, both of which were never used.
- Many calling plan features were on our monthly statements for local phone service – many of which were also never used.
I knocked about $68 per month off these bills collectively, and every few months I find even more ways.
I’ve heard the nightmare stories of overbilling – especially with a specific mobile carrier. You’ll find many reports on the Internet of “hidden” fees that confuse customers. In many cases, when they call customer services, the fees are immediately removed, sometimes with staff claiming “mistakes”; in billing.
Since my woes in the company last year, aside from savings in employment costs, I’ve cut down utilities and services fees alone by nearly $300 per month. And my company is considered a “simplified” business. I wonder how much online store owners could save if they analyzed utilities as well as shipping carrier charges and negotiated better rates at least twice a year.