Real-time or not, sometimes it can take six years for the Regulator to catch up

BillingViews takes no pleasure in reporting on billing mistakes or customers suffering at the hands of rapacious…. But if there are lessons to be learnt then lessons we will try and point out.

Recent fines imposed on Optus are just such a point.

The Regulator has finally imposed fines on the telecoms company for billing mistakes going back to new services launched in 2008. Almost six years after a – you guessed – IT programmer was upgrading a system and inadvertently overcharged customers hundreds of thousands of dollars, the Regulator still felt able to go ahead and punish the operator.

There are two points here.

The first is that regimes with strict billing regulations – such as the UK – will always have the operators with the slickest revenue assurance processes operating within them. One revenue assurance manager, in charge of a global operation and based in the UK used to complain that he never spent any time in the UK. There was no point, the revenue assurance ‘guidelines’ imposed by the billing rules kept the UK processes almost completely blameless.

The second point is that even though we are now entering a world of real-time and needing to support the ‘now’ generation, the ghosts of our past can still come back to haunt us. Thus, six years later a regulator can still impose fines for overcharging.

The obvious counterpoint to that is what actually happens when a new technology like NFC comes along, is supported – rightly or wrongly – by major players such as AT&T….and has no records?

Presumably even in real-time transactions, offers, loyalty redemptions and impulsive purchases, there must, somehow, somewhere be an audit trail. It is one thing to make sure that all transactions are accounted for, from an internal point of view. It is quite another to be asked for information about transactions by a regulator some time after the events have happened.

With anything approaching record-less technology underpinning the ‘now’ generation, we might run into trouble.

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About Alex Leslie 400 Articles
Alex was Founder and CEO of the Global Billing Association (GBA), a trade body focused on the communications sector. He is a sought after speaker and chairman at leading industry conferences, and is widely published in communications magazines around the world. Until it closed, he was Contributing Editor, OSS/BSS for Connected Planet.

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