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Purchasing Calling Card Services
Many times when a company is negotiating their long distance contract, details pertaining to calling card costs are overlooked. The hard work you put into arranging low-cost-per-minute calls from your office can easily be negated by failure to agree upon calling card costs.
These calling "cards" may be a credit card sized card or simply a number memorized or jotted down on a piece of paper. In all cases, a Personal Identification Number is issued to prevent misuse by unauthorized users.
These cards work at most public, business, and residential telephones. Main Resource technicians and sales staff find them to be especially useful at client sites where they can use their card to prevent the call being billed to the customer.
As is true with all calls (except with certain pre-arranged calling plans), rates for calls placed with your card will have varying rates for intrastate, interstate and international calls. Rates for local calls and those that are nearby but still outside your local area (called intra-LATA) should also be covered in the agreement.
Local telephone companies offer calling cards that may be cost-effective if you make a lot of local and in-state calls. However, to avoid confusion it is best if you issue only one card and do not ask employees to use one or the other depending on the destination of the call.
Just as with calls from your location, it is vital when negotiating calling card rates to negotiate rates that are fixed for the duration of the contract. If your rates are based on a percentage discount from a "tariff rate" and the tariff, or tax, goes up, your rates will increase as well.
Sometimes calling cards are sold as part of a promotion with a credit card company. They may offer appealing benefits such as airline miles. Make sure you read the fine print, as these cards may include hidden costs that offset the benefits.
Most calling cards require three steps before connecting the call.
1. A toll-free
By the time you have completed step 3 you will have dialed 36 digits! If you make a mistake you often have to start all over again. Some providers enable you to preprogram "speed dial" for frequently called numbers. Ask your potential provider what they do to make the cards easier to use.
Inquire about your long distance provider's advanced capabilities. Some providers will maintain a directory of your company's frequently dialed numbers that are made available to all users. Many offer speed dial so each user can store frequently called numbers easily. Voice recognition technology is also available. This allows you to speak the name associated in the database you create with the number you wish to dial. Determine the costs and potential benefits, and then experiment on a small scale before universally implementing these features.
FOR BILLING AND REPORTING
In order to make good decisions about your calling card services, and to negotiate the best deal, it is important to have accurate information about your company's calling card usage. Request monthly reports by user and by type of calls (local, intra-LATA, intrastate by state, and international). If you can provide your ten or twenty most frequently called countries you may be able to negotiate a fixed rate.
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