B2B (Business to Business)

On the back side of the counter

(Notes of possible interest to store owners and managers)

Read your phone bill! We found out that we were no longer getting free local calls — the charge is .04 for the first minute and .01 for subsequent minutes. Where this really adds up is when you have on-line connections on for long periods of the day. When I saw this, I realized that DSL is cheaper than dial-up!

I also found a couple of outside vendors charging monthly fees for services that we never knowingly authorized. One of them had offered a “free website” for 30 days, and said they would mail information. If we ever got the information, it wasn’t recognizable as non-junk mail, and I couldn’t find the supposed website.

I did get all the charges reversed, but one operator warned me to watch for the company to try billing us again. They did charge us again on the next bill (I didn’t pay them.) Another reason to refuse to talk to phone vendors at all.

We just went through an audit by the California State Board of Equalization (the people who collect sales tax). Fortunately, the auditor was not out for our blood, and we did not have to pay more.

A couple of things she was looking for: We always itemize oil used in oil changes and charge sales tax. Apparently, most repair shops have a flat charge for oil changes that includes the oil, but the oil doesn’t get taxed. If the shop hasn’t paid tax on the oil when they bought it, they’re in trouble.

Another thing they look for is resale cards if the business does any wholesale business. Fortunately, we were able to supply all the ones they asked for, but we found some interesting things in the process of checking over our files. We always tried to periodically call and check if people are still in business, but that doesn’t always pick up number changes — and we found out that people don’t always tell the truth. We were surprised at how many people had given us numbers that were closed at the time they signed the card.

There is a website that allows you to check on a resale number; to find out if it’s valid and who it belongs to. Check them out at: boe.ca.gov in California. I’m sure most jurisdictions with sales taxes have similar websites.

If you buy equipment on a lease-to-buy deal with a buyout after several years, watch for the end of the lease! We have had two companies roll over the lease into a monthly rental without notifying us when the buyout option came due. One of them actually billed us for a monthly rental even though the contract was totally paid off. The other would not honor the contractual buyout price after the contract end date.

In neither case did they notify us when the buyout date came up. Both of these are fairly large, supposedly reputable companies. And yes, we should have watched for the option date ourselves, but we expected them to give us a heads-up — and our priority is running our business, not monitoring theirs.

But it seems that more and more people — and companies — will do whatever they can get away with, and only honor the terms of their contracts if you hold their feet to the fire.