Contracts and Switching Supplier

Number Porting agreements and processes are now firmly established and are an essential component of the marketplace, so switching suppliers is, now, very straightforward. With a few exceptions, customers can take their numbers with them when they move supplier and as long as the new SP is experienced and competent, then the process works smoothly and seamlessly.

Switching supplier is always subject to whatever contractual arrangement is in place and, unfortunately, there are many customers on contracts that are weighted heavily in favour of the Service Provider to the expense of the customer. For example, we have seen contracts that give the SP the right to increase charges at any time during the term of the contract. We believe that to be ludicrous, but I can assure you that such contracts exist… and you might be surprised by who the main offenders are…and, then again, you might not be surprised.

OFCOM have been very proactive here in recent times by ensuring that some of the more oppressive tactics used by SPs to retain customers (such as automatic renewal of rolling contracts) are no longer lawful. This particularly applies to smaller organisations of up to 10 employees.

Our advice – Examine the Contractual arrangement that you have in place with your supplier and ensure that it fits your needs…not the preferences of the supplier. If it doesn’t meet your needs or you feel that there are onerous conditions, ask the supplier to change the contract conditions. If they refuse, put them on notice that you are switching to a supplier with more favourable conditions.

Contract small Print? – Now, I’m a calm, placid type of person but this makes me angry. The small print exists for one reason only…to mislead. To give an unbalanced view of the merits (or otherwise) of buying a product or service. The small print usually contains the less desirable or onerous aspects of entering into a transaction. Whilst this is a generally accepted and commercially lawful device….for me, it is morally repugnant.

One Example – We have all seen those unlimited and/or fully inclusive deals. Be very, very careful. An examination of the small print will almost certainly show that the deal applies to certain call types only…ie, only 01 02 and 03 numbers and only up to 1 hour. Other call types attract horrendous, punitive rates and set-up charges. Go over 1 hour and the call costs a great deal more than the standard tariff.

Our advice – Never use a supplier who has any onerous small print. There is a reason that they do not want you to notice these conditions. The worst culprits (in my experience) are the larger, more traditional Operators who service their customers via call centres. Their business models are based on getting you to sign up to a contract and then making it as difficult as possible for you to get out…irrespective of whether they are providing you with acceptable service.

Question – Why do customers not switch to a better, cheaper, more local supplier?

Answer – Market Inertia… or to put it another way, I can’t be bothered. It’s not that important to me. Suppliers rely on Market Inertia in order that they can get away with poor customer service.

Our advice – If you are not entirely happy with your supplier, switch. If it’s not that important to you…It should be.

Affordable Fast Fibre Broadband at Eagle Tower, Cheltenham

In this series of blogs, I hope to inform business owners and Telecoms buyers of the considerable and diverse range of products, services and providers available to them in what is a very vibrant and fast moving market.

Internet Access via Fibre based products has been a reality for businesses for many years. However, there has, historically, been 2 main impediments for businesses wishing to adopt this technology to improve their Internet experience.

  • Availability of Fibre based products (i.e., is it available in your area).
  • The cost of the product (very expensive and not really cost effective for small businesses).

The last 18 months or so has seen dramatic improvements. Both of the above impediments have been swept aside as BT Openreach has rolled-out FTTC Fibre Broadband (Fibre to the Cabinet) at an impressive (to me) pace. At the time of writing (October 2013) the UK coverage can still be described as patchy but many organisations are now enjoying the advantages of Fibre based products at realistic and affordable prices.

Unfortunately, for some, there are technical reasons why they cannot enjoy the benefits of FTTC. One such reason is that the underlying telephone exchange line service that supports Broadband is fed by a ‘’Direct Distribution Point’’ (Direct DP). That is, the line does not pass through a cabinet (the green box so evident on our high streets and main thoroughfares) but, instead, is delivered directly from the Telephone Exchange. Eagle Tower in Cheltenham is one such location which is served by a Direct DP and, hence, FTTC is unavailable.

Eagle Tower is a large, multiple occupancy building in the centre of Cheltenham. There is strong demand for Fast Fibre Internet Access and the lack of an FTTC product has been frustrating with businesses having to make a choice between ADSL Broadband or expensive leased line services.

However, Outsourcevoice has now introduced an affordable product allowing businesses to take advantage of fast fibre Internet access at realistic prices, competing directly with ADSL on pricing.

We can be contacted on the Fast, Fibre Broadband Hot-line… 0333 200 1440. Why not give us a call and let us investigate which business broadband is right for your organisation.

How the Marketplace works – The Dealer Channel

In this series of blogs, I hope to inform business owners and Telecoms buyers of the considerable and diverse range of products, services and providers available to them in what is a very vibrant and fast moving market.

We saw in an earlier blog that when it comes to phone lines for business, there are alternative Service Providers (SPs) to BT .

Similarly, these SPs are also at liberty to sell Telecoms equipment such as PBX telephone systems or to offer hosted products such as Centrex or hosted VoIP systems for business (Voice over IP).

In addition to the SPs, there are ‘’Dealers’’ who have agreements in place with the big manufacturers such as Siemens, Mitel, Panasonic etc. This environment is called the Dealer Channel. There are many different Dealer models in place but essentially the arrangement is based along commission principles and/or the Dealer undertakes (contracts) to buy a certain amount of a manufacturer’s products at a given price. Dealers then sell these products either directly to customers or through SPs and other distributors and are supported by the Dealer with Branding and Marketing.

In the latter case, it is usual for the Manufacturer to provide his goods to the Dealer on a sale or return basis or to offer the dealer a large line of credit to allow the Dealer to purchase a large level of stock.

This market generally works well but there are things to watch out for than can cause tensions in the supply chain and can have an impact on the Dealer’s ‘’relationship’’ with the customer. I know from my own experiences that these pressures and tensions can result in Dealers making decisions that are not always in the customer’s best interest.

If the Dealer fails to meet their targeted sales, then the price per unit of the individual product will  go up.  Or, I’ve seen cases where if targets are missed, then no commission at all is payable by the Manufacturer. This results in a pressure filled Sales environment and these pressures can, and do, cause problems that can filter through to the customer.

Our advice is that customers use an independent supplier of telephone system…one that is not tied to a particular Manufacturer’s pbx phone system.  Alternatively, ask how much of your money is going to pay commission to the Salesman. (This disclosure concept is common in other industries such as Financial Services, Banking and even the construction industry).

It is always worth considering using the services of an independent consultant to examine, in detail, your needs and produce a specification that can be tendered. This can be done for a very modest cost (£200) and could save you thousands of pounds.

How the marketplace works – lines and calls

In this series of blogs, I hope to inform business owners and Telecoms buyers of the considerable and diverse range of products, services and providers available to them in what is a very vibrant and fast moving market.

There is, now, a thriving wholesale market for basic products such as telephone lines and the calls over these lines. The competition in Wholesale markets is driving a vibrant, innovative, value-adding Service Provider (SP) retail market.

OFCOM oversee and regulate the SP market and all SPs are OFCOM registered and accredited. So, SPs operate under a ‘’class licence’’ and need to demonstrate good governance and an adherence to certain Codes of Practice.

There are around 350 – 400 active SPs in the UK, the dominant provider being BT Local Business (BTLB)…one such example being BT Local Business Gloucestershire, which is based in Bristol. All SPs have equal status in the marketplace to ensure a level playing field and SPs have exactly the same access and tools available to allow efficient ordering and servicing of the Wholesale Line Rental (WLR3) market.

Here is the first surprise…BTLB operators are not really BT. They are actually franchises and they differ significantly from the other SPs in that they are restricted to selling BT products only…they are also restricted in their pricing models. All other (non- BTLB) SPs are at liberty to sell whatever Telecoms product they choose and can be much more flexible and/or creative in setting bespoke tariffs and giving special offers. When it comes to phone lines for business, or buying business phone equipment, there are real choices to be made.

Our advice – ask yourself a question…Why constrain yourself to only being able to buy/consume a certain, limited number or type of products at a pre-determined price? You wouldn’t do that for any other area of your business… so why put up with it for Telecoms services?

Welcome to OutsourceVoice, Telecoms for Business

In this series of blogs, I hope to inform business owners and Telecoms buyers of the considerable and diverse range of products, services and providers available to them in what is a very vibrant and fast moving market.

KeithDunnev1I’m Keith Dunne and I’m the Managing Director of Outsourcevoice Ltd based here in the Eagle Tower in Cheltenham.

We are a vastly experienced independent Telecoms consultancy offering a wide range of products and services to businesses throughout Gloucestershire.

For my part, I have worked in the Industry for some 37 years having served an apprenticeship with BT in Edinburgh.

I spent 9 years with BT designing local and National Telephone networks. I’ve worked for Telecoms Dealers selling telephone systems and I’ve worked as a Telecoms Consultant for a major UK based Insurance Group.

My last role in the Corporate world was with France Telecom where I was responsible for around 60 professional staff across 7 countries.

I am reaching out to business owners in Gloucestershire to raise awareness of the rapidly evolving telecoms marketplace and to ensure that business owners and telecoms buyers are up to speed with the knowledge that they need to ensure that they are getting the best telecoms value for their organisations from the best UK telecom providers.

The blog will cover a diverse range of topics from office phone systems for business to which business broadband is right for you. We will also be looking at new(ish) technology such as VoIP systems for business and looking at how it compares to more traditional PBX telephone systems.

It is a must for buyers of telecoms services and those who want to be informed and appraised of the best business phone deals around, in a no nonsense, uncompromising style.