Thursday, March 6, 2008

How I Saved $4500 a Year for the company I work for in a Single Day

Many of us know that cell phone service providers are no fun to deal with when trying to make changes to your account. In lots of cases you will be transferred to a 3rd world country helpdesk representative with limited communication skills and knowledge of the company’s own products and services. Or even worse – you will finish a call happy that all has been taken care of just to find out at the end of the billing period that what you have requested verbally over the phone and was confirmed by the company representative on the other side of the line was inaccurately entered in “the system”. The usual result is that you or the company you work for end up paying more for cell phone service, because of the mistakes of others.

One of my duties as a Network Administrator at the company I work for is to assist with activation and configuration of mobile phone devices with different service providers. Our company has been dealing with Nextel, Sprint, Verizon and T-Mobile as “main” providers of cell phone plans for our employees through the years and all have been at approximately the same level of overall customer service – DISMAL!

Of course there are periods when you are provided with good quality service, even possibly a dedicated account representative but that usually doesn’t last – after all cutting costs takes precedence over taking care of existing or future customers.

I have been thinking on consolidating our company’s cell phone plans ever since I learned about the availability of Business plans with Shared Minutes. Today I was able to do this for ALL our mobile phones with one of the service providers, which will result in about $350/mo of savings to a total of $4200 per year.

Some history
  • We had 30 cell phone lines under contract with the service provider;
  • Each of the phone lines were on its own plan – usually around 450 – 500 minutes/month per line @ $40/ mo per line;
  • The majority of the phone lines were underutilized, as the majority of devices are Blackberry units, with separate unlimited data plans/email service already activated. If you have ever used the old style Blackberry device (7510, 7520 models) for a phone call you know it is no fun. Theses devices were used for email and that’s all;
  • The average combined monthly usage on all our phones was 750min/mo!!! The absolute maximum for the last 7 months was 1150 minutes in one month in the busiest for our company period;
  • There were phones placed on Standby for the last 6 months or more at $6/mo for ...hmmm – I don’t know what?!?
After a single 2 hour call today (which I consider a miracle by itself...) I was able to transfer all our service plans to:

Single 1400 Shared Minutes plan of $80/mo for the first device and 26 add-on lines for $25 ea., where all minutes are shared between all 27 lines. All phone lines on Standby were canceled and there was no penalty for this as they were outside any contracts.
Same was repeated with 3 other phone lines with a different service provider to bring the total amount of savings to $380/mo ($350 from Provider 1 and $30 from Provider 2), which is a whopping $4560 / y Savings just from cell phone bills!!!

Lessons learned
  • Check with your cell phone provider if Shared Minutes service plans are available. Some providers may have limitations of the total number of lines you can add per such plan;
  • Check if there are phones placed on Standby and cancel them if they are not under any service contract. Keep them if still under contract and the cancellation fee is too steep OR argue for the cancellation fee to be waived as you are a business customer with great relationship with the provider;
  • Consolidate ALL your cell phone lines under a single Share Minutes plan to save your company some money.
NOTE: Some mobile devices may require to be re-activated under the new plan. Ask the customer representative if there is any procedure which the devices need to go through if the service stops working because of the service plan changes.

When all is set and done you can pat yourself on the back and write this achievement in your resume for the future employers to know why are they paying you the big bucks :)