4 Major Pain PointsYou May Not Expect From Fleet Telematics Providers
There are many variables to consider when choosing the best telematics solution for your business. Some variables you expect, but it is the unexpected ones that can wind up costing you money and causing headaches. In the telematics space, the four most unexpected pain points are:
Automatic contract renewals
Purchasing the wrong device from a vendor’s website
No guidance through installation
Non U.S.-based customer support
Automatic Contract Renewals
Most telematics providers are going to ask that you sign an initial two or three-year contract. Although this is standard, other variables of the contract can come back to bite you if you don’t pay close attention.
You should read the contract closely before signing the dotted line.
Some people don’t read the fine print that says the vendor will automatically renew your contract at the end of the initial term. Imagine that you’ve waited for what seems like an eternity to rid yourself from a service you weren’t benefiting from, only to find out that you are locked into another long term contract with that company. Most of the time the only way out is to pay out the remainder of the contract term. It’s very important to make sure that whichever telematics provider you choose does not reserve the right to automatically renew your contract after the initial term is over.
If you are one of the victims of an auto-renewal, be sure to know the date or dates your contract(s) expire and mark them in your calendar so that it doesn’t happen to you again.
It is recommended that you work with a telematics provider that will notify you well in advance that your contract is going to expire.
Before renewing your contract, the company should review with you how you are using the product, the level of benefit you are receiving, and give you the option to resign or move on.
E-Commerce Telematics Websites
The 21st century has brought on a myriad of changes to our culture; the constant theme has been to make life easier. One of the best examples of this is online shopping. What a wonderful concept, and in many cases it is. In the telematics space, however, the purchasing process is quite different than purchasing most other products. You may think ordering GPS devices online from a telematics provider is a great idea because you’ve become accustomed to online shopping, but trying to do this with GPS devices must be viewed differently.
Telematics systems are not a 1-click purchase.
GPS tracking hardware is not a one-size-fits-all solution, so be wary of a telematics provider that points you to their website to order GPS devices.
Because of the many types of GPS devices, purchasing hardware should be viewed as a concierge service. It is more helpful to have an industry expert consult you. Think about it this way, you wouldn’t sign up for the software service part of telematics without making sure it was the right fit for your needs, would you? It is the same concept with the GPS tracking devices themselves. While they may seem standard, all GPS tracking devices are made for different types of vehicles and equipment, as well as to support different software functionality. Blindly purchasing devices online without consultation will almost guarantee that you purchase the wrong type of device. Besides the headache caused by realizing you purchased the wrong device, if the provider does not allow for a full money back return, you will be out the cost of the wrong devices as well as the cost of the correct device you will need to purchase.
The old adage, “you get what you pay for,” applies very much to telematics. Fleet managers are often dazzled with phrases such as “free hardware,” and “free installation.” Telematics providers are saying this because they offer a simple plug-n-play device that you place into your OBD II port, which anyone can do and does not require professional installation.
Alternatively, their monthly price is higher or your contract length is longer to incorporate the cost and you end up spending more long term than with a one-time professional installation. Like a magician uses misdirection to make something disappear, many telematics providers do this to their prospective customers.
When the time comes for a more complicated installation, these types of telematics companies fall short on helping you, the customer. Then you are left with devices or technology that doesn’t work because the installation went so poorly. Just remember, the cheaper option is not the best option.
Have you ever had a problem calling into technical support for a product? Maybe it was because the person had limited knowledge of the product or because of a language barrier. This is the problem most businesses do not think about when selecting telematics providers. Can you only call at certain times of the day, or on certain days for that matter? Some telematics providers are only available during normal 9-5 office hours, while some are available 24/7/365. Are you talking to someone within the continental U.S. or on the other side of the world?
It is important to know whether the telematics provider you are vetting offers U.S.-based customer support, or if they outsource to a call center on the other side of the world. How quickly do they answer the phone? Make sure to at least answer these questions during the purchasing process, rather than after the fact, when you really need them.