How many phones do you carry around?
Do you make business calls on your personal mobile phone, or vice-versa?
How do you handle billing business and personal separately?
We’ve been trying to find a solution to running up huge personal phone bills by making business calls. Here’s the problem: most phone networks these days offer inclusive free minutes as part of the packages they offer consumers. This makes it impossible to accurately reclaim the cost of business phone calls from the company. I can’t guarantee my first 200 minutes of calls will all be personal, and if a business call appears in the first 200 minutes, it is not priced so I cannot reclaim it.
These days, it’s not practical to make all business phone calls from the office, since we spend a lot of time traveling. “Sorry I didn’t call you back, I was on the train” does not really cut it. We have an 0800 number we can call from land lines which will charge calls back to the business, but 0800 numbers are not free from mobile phones, so using that means double charging.
David called up all of the major telcos last week to try and find a solution. It seemed obvious to us: if we could somehow ‘mark’ each business call by having a dialing prefix, we could either easily identify them on the bill, or even better, get a second phone bill for these calls. It’s not that easy – only one tariff (O2 Best For Business) supports this. And it’s not the cheapest.
It turns out you actually need a degree in Convoluted Deceptive Accountancy to make sense of what the bottom-line costs actually are. When I first did a spreadsheet of the numbers, Vodafone came out the most expensive, with O2 ludicrously cheap. After some peer review from Paul, I decided to factor in a random month’s calling of about 400 minutes. Suddenly, Orange looked most attractive.
I guess the next thing is to factor in 5mb of data usage, and to look at personal phone packages too.
Incidentally, if technical prowess is any indication of how good a given mobile network is: Orange’s site is the fastest, followed by O2, with an incredibly sluggish Vodafone way behind (like, over a minute behind on some page loading). If Vodafone’s content was worthwhile, it would be less painful to wait. But when you have to navigate through dozens of useless pages searching desperately for simple information, it’s simply frustrating. Go and try to find GPRS costs, for example …