Some corporations process customer billing in-house, but others pay 3rd-party services or even outsource their billing to foreign lands in order to save money. No matter how corporate billing is done, it’s a mistake to think that billing today is computerized and accurate.
Companies of all sizes make mistakes; even a single missed keystroke can wind up over-charging customers. Sometimes errors in the system go on unchecked for months, and wind up costing customers millions of dollars.
Cable TV, phone, internet, and so on are essential services today. However, there are some common telecom billing errors that customers should watch out for.
1. Billing past the end date. Telecom companies may continue to issue a monthly bill well after the customer has requested cancellation, even for years after the customer has moved away. It can seriously affect credit if the telecom company finally decides to collect.
2. Incorrect rates may affect telecom billing if the company isn’t living up to promised discounts for new or renewed services. This could be due to an oversight or deliberately misleading advertisements that set limitations in the fine print.
3. Charging for services that aren’t provided. Some telecom services are known for the practice of collecting fees for services that customers didn’t request or were never aware of, like internet faxing or network monitoring. Many customers don’t notice because they don’t audit their bills.
In modern healthcare, medical billing is based on established codes for various kinds of diagnoses and treatment. Using incorrect codes can cause customers to be billed for more expensive services they never received. Insurance companies won’t pay for treatments that aren’t covered by the policy, and may refuse to pay for codes indicating treatments that are undiagnosed. This can have a negative impact on both sides; medical practices are commonly able to collect on less than 60 percent of billing (http://www.mgma.com/blog/a-primer-on-the-physician-billing-process). This shortfall tends to lead to higher prices. Medical billing for procedures that never took place is fraud, but even among doctors, it does happen.
Utility bills should be monitored closely, as they can reflect a number of errors. Many electric and water meters are still read visually, for instance, and a single wrong digit can send power or municipal water and sewer bills skyrocketing. Often, company agents are taught to go on the assumption that the customer is wrong.
Those who are mistakenly charged are usually forced to pay the high bill to avoid shut off, and even when the utility company admits fault, it will only issue future “credit”, not refunds. When the utility refuses to admit fault, the customer must either pay off exorbitant bills or seek help. A $4,000 gas bill when monthly charges before and after are around $100 is clearly erroneous. But if hiring a lower costs more, customers will likely pay in the long run – which is what the utility company is counting on.
The best way to avoid corporate billing errors is for customers, both commercial and private, to monitor their usage history and billing statement every month. Filing them away for reference is a good idea. That way, when high rates or suspicious charges appear, the source of the charges should be contacted immediately and an attempt made to resolve it. Most companies are honest, but some will make a fight of it. Unfortunately for many people, paying higher rates is a better alternative than calling a lawyer or having their credit rating suffer. But even slight over-charging can add up to a considerable amount over time.