By Tanya Seda

Over the past few years, the telecom audit team at Network Control has been asked to take on some of the most complicated billing and contractual analyses imaginable.  That means, among other actions, performing a deep dive, forensic search to find the over-charges other auditors and TEM providers have missed, and turn them into client refunds. In some cases the client is looking for a new supplier, so they want to be armed for negotiations.  In other situations they feel their costs are getting out of synch with their level of services, so we’re asked to do a one-time audit to identify problem areas and opportunities for savings.

Over time, as a result, we have created an extensive master audit complex issues list.  This list serves as a guide to many complex billing scenarios that are rarely, if ever, looked at by suppliers. Below are some specific examples we have identified over the years:

  • Multiple billing for circuits under different accounts: We have seen, with some frequency, double billing, that is, where the same circuits appear and are charged on two different bills.  We have seen this happen, just recently in fact, with a client’s international data circuits. They had been selected in their contracts for local invoicing and then consolidated on global invoicing to the US. The result was duplicate billing.  We were able to identify this error and correct it, which resulted in tremendous savings going forward, as well as credits for past errors. This type of error is surprisingly common, especially where there is a lack of consistent and complete supplier invoice details for local invoices that do not always include circuit ids.
  • Phantom Network Circuits: This error occurs when parts of a service that are needed to actually use the service are not invoiced. A related problem is access circuits with no associated MPLS port and vice versa.  Some larger dedicated access (SONET) services can also appear without access channels. Through our forensic audit we identified the service was no longer in use by the client and the building in which that service was supposedly installed appeared on Google maps as a parking lot!  Big savings come from this kind of deep dive.
  • Incorrect Provisioning to implement new rates under existing contracts or recent amendments: This one seems so easy you might ask who could miss it. That said, it’s a surprisingly common miss. Our audit team dives into contract-to-invoice relationships based on trending. If a supplier is not on top of its game, entire regions may not be billing according to new contract rates that were negotiated, perhaps as a part of heavily competitive RFP process. Likewise, surprisingly often new data service discounts for services like Ethernet or MPLS circuit ICB pricing negotiated through contract revisions or amendments are not updated so identifying and correcting those errors represent significant savings.

In the data realm, other errors often occur when a contract calls for a custom rate or discount for specific speeds (domestic or international) and the client provisions a speed that falls just outside of the speeds listed instead. You see this happen frequently in companies where multiple departments order data services and do not communicate as effectively as they should, or if there are poor internal tracking processes in place.

Of course, I’ve just listed some of the more challenging—but surprisingly common–overlooked billing errors we identify when performing a forensic audit for our clients.  There are many, many more that are much more complex than what we have touched on in this blog, and every audit is a little different. Our keys to finding savings and correcting errors that others miss are our deep expertise and industry knowledge, decades of experience, and a rigorous methodology.  If you are interested in talking with one of our forensic auditors, please contact us.