Business Issues: A Closer Check of Invoices
Forensic bill auditing and verification can detect errors and unintentional overcharges
Forensic bill audit and verification services thoroughly analyze applicable bills and service contracts. Photo: Fotolia
November 2017 – There are many factors that affect the rates, prices and tariffs paid for utilities and services. At many floriculture, horticulture and manufacturing facilities these costs are nearly 40 per cent of the operating budget and sometimes more. Adding to the concern is the possibility of costly billing errors by different utilities and service providers.
Unfortunately, many greenhouse owners and corporate managers do not have the resources, time or the expertise to verify and validate these expenditures or identify billing errors and unintentional overcharges.
Billing errors don’t discriminate. They occur with many utilities and service providers. Errors include but are not limited to double billing, improper tax calculations, incorrect classification, estimated meter reads versus actual, delivery and transmission miscalculations, CCF vs cubic metre conversion, and so on. Often businesses perpetuate the problem by simply comparing one inaccurate bill from a previous year and month to determine if the current bill is correct before making payment.
Many businesses look to specialty companies such as Utility Advocates Inc. to help them monitor their bills. These companies have extensive knowledge and expertise regarding pricing, rates and tariffs that allows them to analyze a wide range of service and utility providers to discover potential refunds, savings and increase process efficiencies. Such firms advise their clients of billing errors, metering anomalies and contract issues to make objective, unbiased cost-saving recommendations.
Forensic bill audit and verification services thoroughly analyze applicable bills and service contracts for water/sewage, telecommunications, freight, petroleum, industrial gases, courier, waste, energy, scrap metal, chemicals and raw materials. This holistic approach increases the potential and maximizes the opportunity for realizing refunds and savings.
The process starts with a review of the last 24 or six months (depending on the type of service) and any related service contracts. This ensures a complete profile of the utility expenditure and consumption so that all potential refunds and savings can be identified and maximized. These bills and service contracts are reviewed for errors, anomalies and overcharges during an extensive 30- to 90-day process.
For example, Utility Advocates uses proprietary software, system tools and industry experience to essentially dissect each and every bill by comparing billing charges against service contracts, usage demand profile and its internal rate database.
This ensures certain billing, rate, tariff and pricing errors and overcharges don’t go undetected and negatively affect the bottom line.
A cost-savings recommendation report is presented to clients to clearly identify and interpret the opportunity to realize refunds and savings.
Clients are in control and can implement the recommendations on their own, or with their approval Utility Advocates can negotiate with supplier and utility providers to maximize the refunds and savings.
A crucial aspect of the process is ongoing monitoring that closely scrutinizes bills, prices and service contracts to make further recommendations to reduce costs. These specialty companies can ensure clients receive updated advice on reducing costs and maintaining the lowest prices while detecting any billing errors going forward.
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