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Exit process billing issues which need to be addressed by the new system

Superuser
Superuser
Posts: 12,718
Thanks: 3,972
Fixes: 26
Registered: ‎22-08-2007

Exit process billing issues which need to be addressed by the new system

@DCT (Chris3)
I do not particularly want DCT (you are busy enough) to put effort into resolving my experience (I believe this is in hand), rather that this experience be brought to the attention of the new billing system design / implementation team, so that the rich complexity of the exit process can be considered in the redesign / new implementation.  Also, if there are lessons to be learnt out of what has happened, they are shared with those involved in the process and training needs are assessed.
The experience relates to the complications encountered with the billing system in respect of a business account termination; it would appear that the current system is not capable of dealing automatically with the potential complexities which might arise within the context of events on an account marked as “terminal”.  See (for example) ticket 83043050 for details / account reference.
Consider the following “exit journey” milestones and events, which I believe are generic to any account termination…
Milestones – those things which can be expected to happen, having decided to exit
A – Termination request (date)
B – Termination effective (date) – A + 14 days for residential or A + 30 days for business
C – Normal billing (date) – for residential this could be after B, for business it will certainly be before B
Events – those things which might happen after milestone A and give rise to a change to / problem with final billing
1 – Included bandwidth allowance is exceeded
2 – Exit fee payment is made
3 – Existing direct debit / payment details are “withdrawn” by the subscriber due to it being agreed there being no more charges due
4 – The existing PN service(s) is (are) requested to be taken over by the new property owner prior to termination effective date
For the sake of illustration, here are the dates relating to my exit journey…
A – 24th Feb
1 – Circa 2nd March
2 – 5th March
3 – 6th March
C – 8th March
4 – 18th March
B – 26th March
Below is the process as I encountered it and the issues which arose, which the existing billing system does not appear to be able to cope adequately with.  The complications have required extensive manual intervention from PN support staff- this is expensive to PN, error prone and has had consequential issues for both PN and the subscriber:-
1. At milestone A (notice of termination) the cost of exit to milestone B (effective termination / end of notice) is calculated by the Customer Options team (COT).  This fee will include “part month” service charges.  An interesting aside here, if one is on an allowance limited service (e.g 10Gb per month), is the allowance “part rationed” in line with the “part charges”?.  At this point payment was not requested immediately, just that I pay prior to termination date.  I cannot be sure if this was due to my particular circumstances; we knew we would vacate the premises prior to termination date and had good hopes that the new occupants would take over the existing services prior to termination date, thereby (in agreement with the COT agent) would reduce our exit fees.  It is however what was agreed.
2. Also at milestone A (notice of termination) milestone C (normal billing date) is “cancelled”.  Where this is BEFORE the termination date, I suggest that this is not a sensible action as this unnecessarily complicates the exit journey in a number of ways: (a) Given that phone call charges are billed in arrears, there is now no tidy means for the billing system to invoice / obtain payment for the phone calls made from the previous normal billing date to the next normal (before end of notice) billing date; (b) Now that there is no billing date, where the subscriber is on an allowance limited service, such allowance usage counters are not reset on the normal billing date, even though in the process step above, the subscriber has been billed for continuous service through to termination.
3. When event 1 occurs (before normal billing date) there is no means of the subscriber ‘self-opting’ to pay for additional usage.  Due to there being no billing date / account is marked for termination, it is not possible to add additional quota to the account.  Where event 1 occurs after normal billing date, the allowance usage is not automatically reset and from what I was told by support, cannot be reset, even though “part month” payments have been agreed (and possibly paid).  The support agent thought this somewhat inappropriate and put in place an agreement to not charge for any “excess” usage between milestone C and B.  Sorting out additional usage to milestone C was complicated, requiring the immediate payment of all of the exit fees and additional allowance fee – just so glad that 1Gb units were available on that account.
4. Around milestone C (normal billing date) we were notified of a change in / problem with DD details (possibly due to event 3 - cancellation of DD) even though there was no (then) pending invoice.
5. At event 4 (takeover of services request by new occupants) the normal billing date was reinstated.  A new invoice was then generated in respect of phone calls from the previous normal billing date to the (reinstated) normal billing date, for which there was now no means of PN taking payment.  Though I have no issue with that legitimate charge, the negation of service cessation actions did not also give rise to crediting back to the existing subscriber the BTOR / BTw fees already charged.  This had to be explicitly requested and has yet to work its way through the system – I do wonder if in the absence of payment details, this too will “hit a brick wall”?  The residual billing matters were dealt with…
6. However on milestone B (termination effective date) a new invoice was raised (and payment failed) for the FULL service charge from milestone C through to the next billing date after milestone B.  At the time of writing this, this matter is being dealt with by the business support team
This exit experience has been more difficult than it needed to be for both myself (lots of emails, phone calls and reminder SMS messages - all at a cost to PN) and the PN support team, who have at all stages been helpful, supportive and professional throughout.  The revised billing system needs to make the exit process much slicker for all concerned – I could argue that PN’s support staff time is better spent dealing with customers coming to and staying with PN than those who (for whatever reason) are departing from PN.
I dread to think what my experience would have been like if this had been a residential account and I had to endure the much longer wait times being experienced on the residential support desk.  I will miss the business support team and their premium level of support.  Actually given the comparatively little difference between residential and business charges, I could be tempted to move my residential service over to a business package… but that is a different matter!
Regards,
Kevin
2 REPLIES
Plusnet Staff
Plusnet Staff
Posts: 6,346
Thanks: 31
Fixes: 5
Registered: ‎26-11-2011

Re: Exit process billing issues which need to be addressed by the new system

Hi Kevin,
Thank you very much for your detailed breakdown of your experience, I'm sure what you've highlighted is valuable information as we build our new Billing System. I will ensure that this thread is passed onto the team that are dealing with the new Billing System so that we can address the issues that you've highlighted above.
Chris Pettitt
Cloud Environments Engineer
Superuser
Superuser
Posts: 12,718
Thanks: 3,972
Fixes: 26
Registered: ‎22-08-2007

Re: Exit process billing issues which need to be addressed by the new system

Thanks Chris,
If anyone needs to chat this through, please point them in my direction!
Kevin