Make My Month

1 July 2004

Because our company does e-commerce projects, we frequently get involved in advising and assisting clients with their bandwidth needs. If you get into the bandwidth needs for a small business, you often wind up in the local, long distance, hosting and ISP decisions to complete the picture. There was a period of time when it made sense to represent some of the telecom companies as an agent/dealer just to grease the skids of the telecom provisioning, billing and procurement mazes.

Once we were in that loop, the phone calls began…

”Wednesday is the end of the month, do you have any deals that will close?” Once a quarter the call would be, ”I need a list of the ten prospects you’re going to close next quarter.” Both of these requests come with a breathlessness and a panic that says, ”there is no greater priority on the Earth than that you comply with what we are requesting from you.”

Not once has an employee of a telecom acknowledged that a dealer is not an employee. Resellers of their services are not viewed as customers. Resellers are viewed one level below the rookie sales rep that was hired yesterday. Resellers are to be told – not asked. Guess what, Big Teleco – some of us went into business for ourselves years ago just to prevent the kind of treatment you’re dishing out.

Through Worldcom and Enron scandals, most telecoms have done nothing to alter the way they do business. As a group they continue to hire and train the most offensive, aggressive, deceptive sales forces we’ve ever been associated with. They have no regard for existing customers, preferring instead the ”new subscriber.” Let a three year agreement near expiration and they don’t care. They certainly won’t pay their dealer or agent to renew the agreement. Rather, they hope the customer stays with them, but they also have no intention of paying any further commissions after the initial agreement.

Now comes word from the Wall Street Journal [subscription may be required] that the SEC has sent an inquiry to 20 telecoms. They are asking for specific definitions of what a customer is, what a subscriber is, how far past due the accounts receivable can get before the telecom stops calling them a subscriber, etc. The SEC wants to know what processes are used in counting ”access lines.” When a customer moves on to another telecom, does the former telecom stop counting the access line(s) that run to that customer? How are ”cut-offs” counted? When do they occur?

Answers are due on July 19, 2004. This might get interesting.

Oh, and no, I won’t help you make your month by Wednesday!

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