When you think about switching telecom services, it’s not a small decision. You will probably need to read the fine print on documents that you may have chosen to ignore up to this point. It will probably involve some research, the deciphering of the legalese in the contracts, and more than a little finesse in terms of timing. Due diligence means doing a very complete, detailed audit of all aspects of an organization. If you’ve started thinking about switching your telecom provider, you may need to perform due diligence on your business relationship with that telecom service.
Three Things You Need Before You Start Looking for a New Carrier
Before you begin the process of researching new telecom carriers, there’s a little homework you’ll have to do on your end. You should cross these things off your list before you go any further…
- Understand Your Eligibility
Knowing when you’re eligible to switch services is the most crucial step to exploring your options. If you don’t know when your current contract is up, there’s a good chance that other carriers may not be able to help you. If you switch telecom carriers when your contract obligations have not expired, all of those penalty paragraphs in the contract kick in.
- Know the Ins and Outs of Your Terms and Conditions
You may have heard of “Terms and Conditions” before; they’re the paragraphs of the contract that no one reads. Well, it’s time to read them. The Terms and Conditions tells what services you’re paying for, and they are the key to knowing how much time is left on your current service contract. If you are lucky, they might also show you how you can explore other options. While you are reading every paragraph of the Terms and Conditions, here are a few main areas you should pay attention to:
- The Length of your Contract or Agreement: This ties to Understanding Your Eligibility in section 1– it will help you establish when you can begin looking for new services.
- The Start and End of your Contract or Agreement: If this seems like the same as the first point, it’s not. You need to make sure you know when you’re starting and ending, so there are no discrepancies between you and your current telecom service. It may not be as obvious as you think. If you’re just starting a new agreement, jot down (or create a calendar reminder) of the term end date.
Note: The start date can easily be misunderstood because there are a couple of options, and each carrier is different. It will typically be called, "Service Commencement Day", but it could be the day you sign the contract or the day of installation. Confirm with your carrier if you are unsure.
- Auto-Renewal and Notification Period: Search for any auto renew agreements or termination of service notification requirements that are part of your contract. There will be specific timers and fine print for each. Carriers typically require 30, 60 or 90 day notices to communicate you do not want to continue carrier services with them and you do not want to auto-renew your contract. Even if your contract is ended, they often still require advance notification to cancel services.
Tip: Don't be tricked by your carrier's intentionally confusing conditions. Always send an email to customer care/support as soon as the installation is complete, and ask them to confirm your contract is not set to auto-renew. Store their confirmation, and then you don't have to worry about it when the end of your contract arrives.
- Termination Liability Penalty: If you somehow get in a situation where you must terminate your contract or agreement, it’s best you know what liability penalty or fee you’re facing. Some companies charge anywhere from 50-100% of the remaining contract value. It’s always good to know what you’re dealing with if ending the contract early is your only option.
Before you start your search for a telecom carrier, be sure to take note of what you currently have, based on your contract or agreement. You should know things such as:
- Number of Phone Lines
- Speed of Internet
- Internet Consumption
- Long-Distance Phone Plan
- Toll-Free Phone Plan
- Any special services you might be getting
Once that list is done, take an inventory of what you do and don’t need, what changes you’d like to see, etc. Be sure to consider the future of your business, your goals, growth, and where you’d like to go in the next three to four years. If at this point you’re a bit overwhelmed and unsure what services are necessary or unnecessary, don’t worry – some telecom carrier service providers can help audit your services.
Timing is everything when looking for a new telecom service
Now that you have made yourself aware of the terms and conditions of your current agreement or contract, you can decide when to begin looking for a new telecom service. We always recommend making initial contact with a carrier consultant about six months prior to the end of your current service contract.
Here’s an example timeline you can reference…
- In May: Let’s say you uncovered the final date for the end of telecom services is in October. In April you should contact us or your new carrier service rep.
- July - September: Research telecom carrier options and narrow your choices down to providers that can meet your needs. During these three months you'll want to do five things (with the assistance of your telecom carrier consultant):
- Complete an audit or inventory of what services you have
- Do an assessment of what services you need
- Understand what's available in your area
- Determine the timeline to implementation
- If you haven't already, communicate with your current carrier about ending your services at the end of your contract.
Whenever you find yourself researching telecom services, use the resources and tools available to you. It can be an overwhelming amount of information, and decisions you need to make can be daunting…but it doesn’t have to be that way. Here are some quick links to tools that can help you during this process: