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.
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
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!