Using VoIP for your business can result in many benefits, including cost-savings. However, the quality of your provider will play a fundamental role in whether you take full advantage of the change. Since all VoIP providers are not created equal, read your contract carefully—and watch out for these few red flags when vetting a service.
VoIP Provider: Red Flags
- Hidden fees – Don’t get sucked into a contract that you can’t break. Some VoIP companies will treat your business like you are a homeowner looking for a cable company. There may be enormous fees for not sticking with their service, and even if you receive lousy service, they won’t allow you out of the contract. That leaves you deciding between paying a fortune to switch services, or being stuck with a miserable service for a year or two.
- Network issues – If your VoIP provider tries to tell you that large downloads will interrupt call service or interfere with quality, they are not using the right kind of routers for telephony. The router should first use bandwidth for your calls, and make downloads a lesser priority. Your calls shouldn’t cut out because someone in IT starts a software update.
- Impossible promises – A lot of services will tell you they are up 99.9% of the time. While that may be true for some, it’s not the norm. Guaranteeing this level of uptime means the service is down less than 9 hours per year. If the service is really that good, the agreement should offer compensation for unexpected loss of service.
- Negative reviews – You can find negative reviews of any business, but if you are finding them consistently—and it’s not just the same disgruntled person posting on every site he can find—then you need to start wondering why they have so many unhappy customers. Is it possible the 5-star reviews are fake?
- The local cable company – Don’t get your VoIP through this company. You know how often you have problems with your cable service, whether for TV or the Internet. The VoIP service won’t be any better.
This isn’t to say that a provider who falls short on one of these criteria is an automatic “no,” but several warning flags should be enough to alert you. It’s important to know what you are getting into before you sign anything.