Save money by avoiding shortfall penalties

If you are in a shortfall situation, you should contact your carrier immediately. Shortfall revenue is gladly accepted by carriers, but if the customer asks the carrier for relief, the carrier will normally negotiate an alternative. The key is to proactively address the situation before the shortfall charge is billed. The volume commitment can normally be reduced to the next lower level without having to sign a whole new agreement. Some of the discounts may be forfeited, however.

If the shortfall amount has already been billed, it is difficult for the carrier to simply waive the charges and reduce the volume commitment. Usually, the carrier will only waive the billed shortfall if the customer is willing to sign a new agreement with a new term commitment. I have seen customers in their last few months of a 3-year contract experience a shortfall and the only cost-effective way to avoid paying the shortfall is by signing a new 3-year contract. However, in this situation, the customer has little leverage and ends up paying high rates.

Contract value
Contract value is how carriers calculate how much money each customer is worth. Contract value is calculated by multiplying your monthly volume commitment by the number of months remaining on your term. For example, a customer at the beginning of a $1,000 per month, 12-month agreement has a contract value of $12,000. The same customer 10 months later is only worth $2,000 to the carrier. By studying the contract value of the entire customer base, long-distance company financial analysts can predict future revenues.

A customer in a shortfall situation should be aware that his carrier uses the contract value principle to guide him during negotiations. A wise customer considers this same principle when negotiating with her carrier. To clear up a shortfall, your carrier will always require you to increase your contract value. So a customer facing a $10,000 shortfall penalty must sign a new contract that promises the carrier at least $10,000 in future revenue.

Term agreements
Carriers normally offer 12-, 24-, and 36-month term agreements. The longer a customer will commit to a carrier, the greater discount the carrier will offer. The combination of the term agreement and volume commitment establish the discount amount. Table 13.1 illustrates how a typical long-distance carrier structures its discounts.

On national accounts, carriers will normally push for an even longer term agreement, such as 48or 60-month agreements. Ironically, the longer your term agreement, the less attention you get from your carrier. The carrier knows that they have no risk of losing your business in the short term, so they focus their attention on their more volatile customers.

No comments: