Business Phone Systems' Hidden Costs

By Brian Boguhn
Updated: February 17, 2011

Purchasing a phone system for your business is difficult enough, from doing the preliminary research to determine your needs and what works right for you, to actually dealing with the various vendors to arrive at the solution you’ll ultimately buy. Be careful when going through this process. One of the potential “gotchas” that might arise has to do with the hidden costs you’ll encounter during purchase or installation. We’ll look at some of those costs here to make you better prepared, focusing on the general rather than those specifically associated with VoIP or traditional PBX.

Hidden Phone System Costs

The following are tips to consider as you prepare to purchase a phone system. The list is by no means exhaustive.

  • Purchase new technology. Systems taking advantage of the latest technology can save you almost 50% compare to what you would pay for a traditional system. Phone technology has matured in the past decade. Take a hard look at the current stuff that is out there.
  • Look for a package deal. If you buy your phone system from one vendor and your service from another vendor, you’re then in a position where you have to figure out how to make the equipment work with the service. Buying a package deal from a vendor ensures the equipment and service will work together. It will also eliminate any finger pointing that can occur later on between the two providers.
  • Watch out for hidden installation fees. Know up front what it’s going to cost to get your system installed. Many vendors will include the cost of installation in the overall price of the product. Other vendors will provide a firm fee for the installation. Avoid a vendor that gives you vague information. You don’t want to be stuck paying an hourly rate for an unknown installation period.
  • Find out if the vendor offers a risk-free trial period, or if there is a money-back guarantee. It is beneficial for you to have a period of time to evaluate the equipment and service and make sure it works right for you. You don’t want to lock into a 2 or 3 year contract and then find out a few weeks in that you’re unhappy with the product.
  • Look to pay as you go. Many vendors will try to get you to purchase a package including a certain number of minutes. The problem here is that one of two things will happen. You won’t purchase enough minutes and end up paying a high rate for the number of minutes you go over, or you’ll purchase too many minutes and end up paying for something you’re not using. If you have to go with a package of minutes, see if you can pay as you go for a few months until you get an idea as to how many minutes you’ll be using.
  • Post Installation Charges: Make sure you’re aware of any costs involved in service after the system is installed. Find out if free service is included for the first year or so of the purchase. Know the warranties. If you have to purchase a service contract, make sure you understand what you’re receiving for your money. Try to avoid being in a position where you’ll have to bring out a technician who works by the hour and can’t tell you exactly how long the problem will take to fix.

Remember, affordability doesn’t mean that you’re getting cheap service. Choose what’s best for your business, not what’s best for the vendor. Using the tips above will help you to make as savvy a decision for your company as you can.

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