Monthly Archives August 2019

Sprint, Verizon, AT&T waive fees for those in path of hurricane Dorian

Hurricane Dorian

Hurricane Dorian is now a Category 3 major storm and is still gathering strength as it moves toward Florida, where it could make landfall as soon as late Monday as a Category 4 hurricane.

All of Florida has been placed under a state of emergency and authorities are urging residents to stockpile a week’s worth of food and supplies, with the governor warning that the storm could be a “multi-day” event.
 
As a safety precaution, some of the major telecom providers in the United States have announced that they are waiving fees for those in the path of Hurricane Dorian
 
 
Verizon announced they are offering unlimited call/text/data for customers in Dorian’s path. https://twitter.com/VerizonNews/status/1167506290626760704 https://www.verizon.com/about/news/hurricane-dorian-way-and-verizon-ready
 
AT&T announced they are waiving data overages in affected areas of Florida from 9/2 until 9/8. https://about.att.com/pages/disaster_relief/storm_dorian.html
 
Sprint announced that they are waiving call, text, and data overage fees for customers in the U.S. Virgin Islands effective August 28 through September 4. https://newsroom.sprint.com/updates-on-dorian.htm?linkId=72887125
 

Mobile Payments and Generation Z

The payments landscape has been evolving at a rapid clip over the past decade, thanks in part to massive demand for electronic payments and a quickly growing base of consumers who would rather pay for their goods with anything but cash.

That trend won’t stop anytime soon. In fact, by 2020, 40 percent of U.S. consumers will be made up of Gen Z. This demographic doesn’t remember the world before the internet, Amazon, and apps. They accept nothing less than digital, and they won’t be constrained by anything they can’t carry in their pocket.

When it comes to the demand for efficiency, efficacy, and immediacy, Gen Z is a tidal wave that will wash away any institution not willing to adapt. And the first place to undertake that adaptation? Mobile payments. Take a look below at some of the growing trends of the mobile payments industry – which is projected to become the second most common payment method after debit cards by 2022. 

Mobile Point of Sale

Imagine a store with no checkout, replaced by sales staff carrying mobile-point-of-sale (mPOS) devices. While not so viable in places where you’re buying a large volume of items such as a grocery store, stores that sell at lower volume and higher cost could benefit greatly. Your staff member is right there with the customer, answering their questions and pointing them in the right direction. When they make a choice, the sale is conducted right then and there and the customer gets to walk out the door with their purchase immediately.

These same devices can be taken out of the brick-and-mortar location as well and used at trades shows, festivals and food trucks. An mPOS can go anywhere your customer does, and accept payments from phones, watches and credit cards.

Social Commerce

People are on their phones constantly. Whether you think that’s good or bad, it’s incredibly important to take it into account when considering how you accept payments. Anyone who has spent any amount of time learning about online purchasing knows that the checkout cart is where most sales die. In fact, every redirection, click and new page that a customer experiences from the moment they decide they want an item to the moment they click “Confirm Purchase” is another hurdle to the final sale.

What if your customer could purchase directly through your Facebook or Instagram page without ever needing to redirect to your website? 60 percent of Instagram users claim they find new products they want to purchase on the app. The more streamlined your payment process is, the more impulse buys you’ll get.

Retail, Wholesale, and Automation

Over the next few years, retail and wholesale are expected to grow into interactive, highly-automated systems. Let’s make two assumptions.

First, payments and service development will continue to be customer-driven and focused on efficiency. Second, that these customer-driven systems will continue to innovate and change, embrace new technologies, and develop extremely tailored solutions for vertical markets.

Mobile payment solutions embrace this automation, and go hand-in-hand with the dream of worker-less stores. From epiphany to delivery, the entire sales process runs through your phone, no matter where you are. This leads to lower overhead and a faster sales process. And if Gen Z wants anything, it’s speed.

Biometrics

The old spy-novel standby is the trusty fingerprint scanner, but biometrics have evolved. Face recognition, iris and hand scans, DNA tests and voice recognition – they’re all real, and rapidly overtaking traditional methods like PINs and passwords when it comes to identification and authentication.

Fraudsters never stop innovating, and mobile payments must continue to combat them at every turn. Biometrics are a more reliable way for merchants to verify the identity of their customers in order to prevent scams.

When it comes to security, your phones built-in biometric security means that not only are mobile payments fast and efficient – they’re also very safe.

Billing Errors Aren’t Going Anywhere

According to Canada’s telecom and TV services ombudsman in April, incorrect billing charges accounted for 16.5 percent of all issues raised in 9,831 complaints to the Commission for Complaints for Telecom-television Services over a six-month period. In fact, billing errors were the top issue for almost every type of service.

 

The second most common sore point? Misleading and undisclosed contract terms. Overall, complaints increased by 68 percent from last year’s mid-year report.

 

Studies have shown over 80 percent of telecommunications bills contain errors. Clerical errors, tax errors, contract discrepancies, double-metering… there are plenty of different ways you can incur billing errors – and you can bet they won’t be fixed unless you notice them and make a point of it.

 

Most professionals simply don’t have the time to do a thorough audit of their telecom bills. Instead, they employ the weigh it and pay it method – if the number is similar to the one from the previous year, they sign off. But what happens when that number has been wrong from the beginning? Or you’re just so busy you don’t notice a change? Here are a few of the most common errors to look for on your bill:

 

Charges for services you’ve never had:

 

It’s not uncommon to be billed for services you’ve never used. Maybe you’re paying for extra lines or voicemails when you don’t have enough phones to use them. Maybe it’s cloud services, call filtering or ring-back tones. Maybe you have an older plan that is charging you extra for North American roaming, despite calling in Canada, the U.S. and Mexico being included in your regular service package. While usually not hyper-expensive on their own, these services are billed every single month, which can add up quick!

 

Charges for services you used to have:

 

Being billed for disconnected services is another common source of billing errors. You’d think cancelling a service is a fairly cut-and-dry process, especially when you’re provided with a stop-billing date. Unfortunately, according to studies, at least 25 percent of cancelled orders continue to bill the client after the stop-billing date.

 

Incorrect rates:

 

Do you sometimes wonder why billing errors almost always go in favour of the provider as opposed to the client? While we might like to think the big bad telcos intend to take our money without providing the services we need, it’s not so simple. In reality, there are plenty of billing errors in favour of the client – but the providers are extremely vigilant when it comes to watching their profitability and correcting their mistakes. Unfortunately for us, they aren’t watching our bottom lines, so errors in their favour rarely get noticed. These errors usually go hand in hand with contract renewals and the installation of new services. It’s often a simple case of an error in the entry of your new rates.



There are tons of other places you might find billing errors – services not under contract, usage in excess of your plan, obsolete and outdated services, multi-account billing by the same vendor… the list goes on. Keeping an eye on your bills to make sure you’re paying the right price and getting proper credits for billing errors can feel like a full-time job, but it needs to be done if you’re hoping to maximize your bottom line! 

Taking Stock of Your Personal Telecom Network

We’ve all had a similar experience you get a bill in the mail, scan down to the bottom of the letter for the cost, and your eyes bulge. More than you expected? We know the feeling.

We also know that keeping your expenses down while maintaining the speeds and data you need to operate can be a delicate balance. With so many different options, how can you be sure you’re getting a great deal, as opposed to a raw one? Here are some tips for managing your own personal network to ensure you’re getting what you need without breaking the bank.

1: Assess your bills

You need to make sure you understand exactly what you are paying each month and what you’re getting for those payments. Are you paying full price? Are you paying for services you don’t need or want? How about services you don’t even realize you have access to? Are you signed up for a minimum-term contract with penalties for breaking it? If you don’t understand any aspect of your bill or service arrangement, call customer service and have them explain it to you!

This information is important not only for your own records, but also for your negotiations. If you know exactly what you’re paying for, you’ll know exactly how to bargain for better prices. Ensure that you review your account information, billing information and contract so you have a thorough understanding of where your money is going.

2: Know what you need

It’s very important to separate the wheat from the chaff. Sometimes you see a deal that sounds too good to pass up, but you need to remember that a deal is only valuable if it’s something you’re actually going to use! Why pay for a great deal on a home phone and cable bundle if you only use your cell phone and stream Netflix? Even if you’re paying a reduced price, if you’re not using the product, it’s not worth your money.

3: Pay on time, in full

Phone and internet providers want your business as long as you’re paying for it. As soon as you’re not making timely payments, your business is no longer a priority. Write down your payment dates and pay them in full, on time, every month. As long as you keep consistent and you’re always paying on time, you have leverage to use in your service negotiations.  After all, the company wants to keep you as a customer! You can use that to bargain down prices.

4: Haggle

So now you’ve assessed your payments, you’ve trimmed the fat and gotten rid of the things you don’t need and you’ve paid your bills in full and on time. Your service provider wants to keep you around! Now is the time to haggle.

Don’t accept the posted price. If you don’t ask, you don’t get! If you can’t get a deal from the person you’re talking to, escalate the call and ask for the retention department. Come prepared with alternative options and services if they try to call your bluff – with the amount of competition, you can squeeze even the large companies to give you a discount.

Finally, remember to be polite and professional. Sometimes, discounts are discretionary – which means an employee can decide whether or not to offer them to a customer. If you’re rude and aggressive, you’re much less likely to be offered the discount.

Managing Your Personal Plastic Footprint

Plastic vs. Carbon

You’ve probably heard the term “carbon footprint” before in reference to how much your lifestyle contributes to creating the greenhouse gases that lead to climate change. In the same vein, your plastic footprint is the metric used to judge how much plastic you will contribute to the global trash pile.

Obviously, the two go hand-in-hand. In fact, one of the best ways to start reducing your carbon footprint is by diminishing your plastic use. That’s because plastic production is one of the most significant sources of carbon dioxide production on the planet. But plastic’s effect on your carbon footprint is just the beginning.

On average, a regular PET (Polyethylene terephthalate) plastic bottle takes 450 years to degrade. Other types of plastics can take up to 1000 years. In other words, not only does our plastic consumption contribute to climate change, but our bottles, straws and bags will also outlive us several times over.

While our individual efforts often seem like a drop in the bucket compared to the production and pollution of large corporations, avoiding single-use plastics is a step everyone can take. Here are some methods to help reduce your plastic footprint on a personal level.

Reusable utensils with takeout:

Humans are creatures of convenience, and takeout is one of our ultimate creations in that regard. Unfortunately, takeout is usually packaged in plastic, carried in plastic, and consumed with plastic.

By turning down the single-use cutlery offered with your meal and instead using reusable forks, spoons and chopsticks, you can help cut down on your waste. If you want to take it a step further, bring a reusable container with you the next time you go out to dinner and ask to pack any leftovers in that instead of a single-use Styrofoam box.

Reusable bags:

Plastic bags clog sewers and storm drains, litter streets and contaminate our oceans, where they’re eaten by fish and suffocate seabirds. Keep reusable bags in your home, car and at work to cut back on your footprint – specifically, your plastic footprint

Experts still argue whether or not plastic bag bans and the focus on reusable bags are actually better for the environment, greenhouse gases-wise. After all, plastic bags are small, light and easy to transport whereas shipping an equivalent number of reusable bags takes a lot more fuel, space and energy.

Be Toiletry Aware:

Toothbrushes! Everyone has one, and they’re almost universally disposable. Instead of buying a pack of plastic toothbrushes and tossing them out after you’re done with them, look into a bamboo or electric toothbrush. Electric toothbrushes are more efficient and produce less waste than regular plastic, while bamboo toothbrushes are compostable (though you may have to trim off the bristles!)

Safety razors are a great alternative to disposable razors and razor heads. Hold on to the dull blades after switching them out, and when you have enough to fill a small glass jar, take them off to be recycled!

Cotton swabs – the eponymous Q-Tips – often end up polluting the environment after being used to clean ears or apply creams or ointments. Next time you’re buying a box, look for the ones with paper sticks instead of plastic. They’re much quicker to degrade and work just as well.

Raise Your Reusable Goblet:

Humans drink a lot. Whether its coffee, water or something in between, the combination of a reusable mug and reusable water bottle can help you drastically reduce your plastic footprint. Bring your own mug to Starbucks or Tim Hortons and ask them to fill it for you. Keep a water bottle handy at your desk to fill at the cooler. You can even pick up a stainless steel or glass straw for those hot days when you’re opting for iced coffee.


Reducing your plastic use isn’t too difficult – but it can be frustrating when comparing your impact to that of corporations and governments. Despite this, by swapping out a few single-use plastics for reusable options, you can significantly reduce your personal plastic footprint and encourage others to do the same. The more that do, the more pressure can be put on the powers that be to do the same.