Companies still paying ex-employees’ phone bills

Thanks in part to the new levels of complexity created by BYOD, many companies are paying too much for mobile devices due to mistakes that slip through the cracks. 

One extra cost wasting funds in a lot of organizations: mobile phones that the company believes have been decommissioned but are still included in the bill from the carrier.

When organizations decommission phones that had been issued to employees, about 10% of the time, something goes wrong in the process, according to mobile device management vendor Amtel. The result is what the company calls zombie phones, or devices the company thinks are dead but are still costing money.

The larger the company, the greater the likelihood those devices exist. For example, at one multinational firm audited by Amtel, 2% of the devices being paid for were found to be zombies. The total bill paid for those devices: $70,000 per year.

Closer watch needed

Most companies that issue at least 500 mobile devices have some zombie phones hidden in their bills, Amtel says. And while its less likely smaller organizations will be victims, the impact for those firms can be greater since they have smaller mobile budgets.

How do those phones slip through the cracks? Amtel describes two common situations:

  • Some companies allow employees to keep devices they’ve been issued after they leave the company, with responsibility for the monthly bill being transferred to the employee. But often the account isn’t transferred for whatever reason, and the employee keeps the device while the company pays the bill.
  • In other organizations, employees must turn in their company-issued devices when they leave. In those cases, the company typically tells their mobile carrier to terminate the account, but for various reasons, that doesn’t always happen.

The bottom line: Many organizations need to pay closer attention to their mobile bills or conduct regular audits to spot those unnecessary costs.

Zombie phones aren’t the only potential wasted cost that might slip through the cracks otherwise. Other reports have shown that companies spend a lot to cover employees’ misuse of their mobile devices, including charges for:

  • Personal long distance calls
  • Going over allotted text messaging and voice plans, and
  • Exceeding monthly data limits for smartphones.