It is advisable that you review your monthly phone and internet bills and check whether you are billed according to what you agreed upon with the service provider. There are cases wherein you could be charged extra or the company may have added even a small cent (which if billed continuously will earn them extra revenue). There are also few cases wherein you may get billed lower than what you expected. Bills differ depending on what type of service and most especially who your service provider is. Here is basic information you can look up on your bills.
One of the things you may want to understand is the billing period. It is oftentimes confused with the service period. You may need to clarify this with your provider. However, when you say billing period, it is the dates when your billing is prepared. Let’s say your billing period is December 1 to December 31 and the bill date is January 5. It means that your bill is prepared on January 5th and you’re being billed on a monthly basis. You can expect a new bill every 5th of the month unless your provider changes it (oftentimes bill dates aren’t communicated to the subscribers). The period isn’t that important however you can reference that one just incase you file a dispute.
Now one of the most important things to know in your bill is the service period. These are the actual dates when you used the service for which the bill is charging you for. For example, the bill date is January 5th and the Service period is December 1 to December 31. This means that the charges that you’ll be paying on your January 5 bill are for the services that you used for the month of December. If, on the next month, you are being charged for a previous service period or if it was already billed before and it was charged again, clarify it with your service provider. The rates could have increase or there was an error on the bill.
The next thing you need to check is the amount you are being charged. If you have a monthly internet subscription of $25, you should see on the charges part of your bill the service period with the amount. For example, you’ll see 12/1/2008 – 12/31/2008 – Internet Service (this description will differ depending on what service you are being billed for) = $25. If for any reason that the amount you see on your bill is not the same as what you’re contracted with, contact your service provider.
If you’re billing on a per minute basis, you need to compute how you were charged. Let’s say you were billed for long distance calls and you were promised a rate of $0.05 per minute. You used 375 minutes and you were charged $18.75 for that month and if you compute it (18.75 / 375 = 0.05), you’ll see that you were charged correctly. A small discrepancy may have an effect if you use the service a lot. Let’s say for a month you used 20,000 minutes (you had multiple phone lines activated and the people who use it call 6 hours a day). Then, you were charged $1,200 supposedly at the same rate of $0.05. If you check it, it will show you that you got billed for $0.06 instead of the correct rate. And if you compute it at the correct rate of $0.05, you should only be charged $1,000. $200 is a lot of savings so dispute the charges.
In some cases, you’ll see statement of accounts as the first page on your bill. This is just a summary on what has transpired between the last bill date and the current bill and what the current standing of your account is. If you made any payments, it should show up there. It will also show if you have missed any bill and it will show you the total amount that you currently owe the provider including previously unpaid bills. Credits or Debits that were applied should also show up here (although you may see the details further on in the bill on what they are for).
Credits and Debits may seem a little confusing but it’s not that hard actually. Credits are amounts that are given to you by the provider. Let’s say your internet connection was down for 5 days. In your bill, it will show a service period (the dates where you didn’t have internet connection and which will be credited off your bill) and how much you’re getting credit for. It should show something like 12/5/2008 – 12/9/2008 Credit Adjustment = -$4.00. Notice that there is a negative sign. This means that if you usually pay $30 monthly, since you have a credit of $4, you’d only have to pay $26. Debits on the other hand are charges that are placed on the bill. If you added a feature for that month, you’ll see an additional line item on your bill charging you for it. Let’s say for a month you subscribed for a stronger firewall service for $10, you’ll pay $10 more than what you usually pay monthly. Or, if you get credited by mistake, they can debit it and charge it back again.
These are just the basics that you may want to look out for when reviewing your bill. Always understand what you’re paying for, how you are being billed, and what can you do just in case there is a mistake (call your provider or visit them personally if you can).