The zero dollar bill phenomenon

The zero dollar bill phenomenon

Summary: If there's one indication that customer relationship management (CRM) systems at telcos are screwed, it's got to be the phenomenon of the 'zero dollar' bill. This typically occurs when a customer changes suppliers, but the telco's computerised billing system doesn't quite know what to do...

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If there's one indication that customer relationship management (CRM) systems at telcos are screwed, it's got to be the phenomenon of the 'zero dollar' bill.

This typically occurs when a customer changes suppliers, but the telco's computerised billing system doesn't quite know what to do... so it keeps on billing them, but without any actual charges.

      a zero dollar bill

The image you see here is one example of a mobile phone bill from Optus, but I've seen them from just about every telco out there, particularly the ones that have been around for a while -- like Telstra.

Of course it's well known that most of Australia's major telcos are doing heavy construction work on their billing systems, and with all the industry consolidation going on I doubt things are going to get easier.

I guess at the end of the day this is an example of an interaction between humans and technology that is currently failing. Hopefully as CRM systems become more sophisticated they will pick up more errors like this.

On the lighter side of things ... although with bills like this it's a waste of time even opening the envelope, at least you don't have to get out your credit card!

Topics: Telcos, Enterprise Software, Optus, Telstra

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4 comments
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  • Loyalty to a given supplier is an extendable; given to estamate discounts. It co

    Why complain when this program app was designed to colilate the needs of an industry; their compiling of this information gain credibility and value, rather, protects their value from consiquential ivasions of eminant domain.
    anonymous
  • Re: Why complain?

    hi Rob,

    I'm not so much complaining as pointing out that a zero dollar bill doesn't really help the consumer much and makes the telco look a little silly. Plus it's a waste of paper :)

    Kind regards,

    Renai LeMay
    News Journalist
    ZDNet Australia
    anonymous
  • Shareholders

    For 2 years I received a $0.43 Telstra bill for a previous tenant of a house I was renting. "No payment required" was on every bill, so "returned to sender" was put on every one of them.
    I hate to think how many of these dead accounts they spend $6 dollars on postage every year for. Glad I don't own shares in the company (anymore!).
    anonymous
  • Mindless billing

    Every month for the past 18 months I have received a statement from American Express for an account I closed. The account is 76 cents in credit and it asks me to contact them (by phone at my expense of 25 cents) to arrange to get the 76 cents credited to my nominated bank account. I've ignored the statements because I just wanted to see how long it took AMEX to tweak - still waiting.........
    anonymous