Cellular Agents / Dealers - Topped Out
Carrier Business Plan
Only the top highly paid management team or perhaps a few Board members had access to the carrier business plan demographics, definitions, and goals. The plan probably well-defined the topped out position of the successful Agent mentioned before. Residual commissions on recurring billings had grown big even with the abusive carrier automatically induced churn or depletion. Was it possible that one to three million dollars a year in residual payments was available to anyone for their own customer/subscribers?
All parts of the Agent agreement that once had benefitted the Agent had been replaced or omitted entirely by the carrier in the first several years of business. Now the carrier was ready to further increase its profits by disposing of “unnecessary expenses”– and that included the Agent.
An environment of hostility was generated by many in upper management and was aimed directly at so-called "rogue" Agents – those Agents who increasingly dared to dispute the "contract" as it was evolving more heavily in favor of the carriers. This obvious hostile attitude of management toward Agents questioning the contract permeated the carrier sales or Agent support departments.
With this environment of scorn and disdain prevailing in the Agent support teams and departments, the original mission to help Agents was reversed and quickly evolved into an noticeable intention to defraud and otherwise criminally harm the Agent and his business. And so, the following in-grained treatment of Agents became the norm:
· To begin with, the carrier management had no intention of actually paying residual commissions for years.
· Thus, the carrier management had no intention of providing accounting or documentation for reconciling the agent's residual commission payments to customer billings.
· Therefore, the carrier's billing software system would automatically unmark the subscriber account for agent residual commission payment for tight business controls detrimental to the Agent and to protect the carrier. For example: 5 days late subscriber payment, account on hold for any reason, any under or over payment, subscriber roamed out of market, made foreign call. (Carrier's system had many ways to unmark account for residual commissions to Agent, but only one method to reinstate the residual commission to the Agent, requiring a request for intervention by a top manager or officer.)
· Meanwhile behind the scenes, the carrier's Agent internal commissions churn and planned depletion of the Agent's contracted residual commission continued unnoticed and was always in place. Often, the Agent was told: "We don't know how to provide a residual commission accounting digitally or on disk." About the residual check, carrier would sometimes actually state: "This is all you have coming."
Accelerate Demise (of that unnecessary Agent expense)
Many carrier employees, especially in the Agent support area, were urged to assist in diverting activations and business away from a "rogue" Agent to a friendly or new Agent or a new company competing with the "rogue" Agent.
These dastardly deeds were surprisingly common as carrier Agent support people believed they were helping not only their company but also the entire industry by diverting new subscribers from the "rogue" Agent to another Agent in the carrier's realm. These Agent support people didn't realize that the so-called "rogue" agent was in fact an independent business – and such actions against these rogue agents were actually felonious. Here are a couple of examples of felonious practices of the carriers:
· Unethical bordering on criminal -- Carrier delayed approval of faxed-in new subscriber application from "rogue" Agent for days while reporting back: "trying to get information for approval". New subscriber application was then immediately faxed to a favorite new Agent with "approved" stamped on it. New Agent now had phone sale and installation completed by the time the "rogue" Agent received approval days later. A variation was for the carrier to request a big deposit from "rogue" Agent's subscriber for application approval while faxing a copy to new Agent with "approved" stamped on it.
· Really criminal – Agent was originally a two-way radio shop also selling and installing cellular phones. He also installed phones for his carrier sold by a car manufacturer's cellular phone program. His regular fee was $200 for each install. His carrier furnished a payment voucher for each of the thirty to fifty monthly installs and he received monthly proper payments.
Once an Agent called me and asked, "Can my carrier residual commissions account have a negative balance?" It seems that he had stumbled on carrier deception when he inquired about some discrepancy with his residual account and had spoken through the regular number to the lady that handled his account. However, since the regular lady was on vacation, he spoke with the rent-a-person filing in. Not knowing better, that person printed the last six months of his residual account statement, which was never to be revealed to the Agent, and faxed it to him.
He had noticed that the periodic checks were getting smaller and smaller from "disconnects", according to inquiry. When he saw the residual account statement accidentally sent to him, anger was not an adequate word to describe his reaction. The carrier checks for voucher installation payments were sent properly but, every check was debited to his residual account. Charging the Agent's own residual account, his money, thousands and thousands of dollars for the hundreds of installations. It was over $40,000 of lost revenue just for the year-to-date.
I suggested copies of the document be safeguarded -- and that he immediately send a note to the carrier VP advising him of his impending trip to the district attorney. A few days later I gave up attempting to contact the Agent – it seems he had hastily retired after selling out to the carrier for a handsome amount. Word was, he was quite happy with the offer.
Cash Fixes It & Seals It.
In those days, and probably now too, when the big corporations get caught – that is, really caught up in felony acts with perjury and damning paper trails – they use company cash to make the situation go away. Extra company cash funds the non-disclosure agreement and seals all documentation of company misdeeds forever.
It is amazing how little the public knew then (and now) about law suits, litigation, and civil court cases. Even I was shocked by the background money collusion in some cases. Lawyers took an agreement to represent a plaintiff against the monopoly with contingency agreement of 35 to 40%. This was pretty standard but, on occasion, I learned of very fine print or an ancillary agreement that would provide the lawyer with a larger portion of any funds from defendant other than actual damages or punitive damages. Uhhh, what?
Not 35 to 40%, but 70 to 80% in some cases. These funds would come in an ancillary agreement outside of any court proceedings or judgment providing a cloak of secrecy to bind parties to nondisclosure, sealing all records, no matter the outcome.
The plaintiff's lawyer free money deal offered to plaintiff and urged by plaintiffs lawyer to accept. Of course, at this point in such cases the plaintiff was already seriously broke. Right in the beginning plaintiff's lawyer gets the really big end of serious free money while the plaintiff gets a smidgen of losses suffered.
The defendant has motivated plaintiff's lawyer some that may guide him to take the free money and motivate client to drop a difficult, unwinnable law suit. But, even if case is won and damages are awarded and collected by plaintiff and lawyer, the defendant's free money paid earlier is now a serious paid up business insurance policy insuring that no record of the successful court case will by utilized as a road map to success by other lawyers, especially those that may want to be monopoly bashers.