BidMyBill is a new mobile phone contract auction website that went live to operators on 29 August and will shortly open up to consumers. It enables consumers and businesses to upload their historic billing information onto the site when their contract comes up for renewal. Mobile resellers and operators can then bid for their new contract based on an accurate picture of the customer’s actual usage.
The site is the brainchild of web entrepreneur and CEO of BidMyBill Dave Bell, who has set up and sold a number of online businesses since 1999, when he launched an e-commerce website for Bluetooth products.
‘The idea for this came about 18 months ago,’ says Bell. ‘I was trying to get a new O2 contract as it was up for renewal. There are a lot of contract tariffs to choose from, but how do I know which one is best for me? I got through to the customer retentions department and was given a lot of offers, including discounts to stay with O2. I thought, why don’t I open up my valuable renewal contract to other providers?
‘All of my historic billing data is online. I can log in and see it, but no one else can. What if I pulled that billing information out, hid my private data and then opened it out to the other networks to bid for in a seven-day auction? This is what sparked the idea for BidMyBill.’
There are a number of other websites that allow customers to upload their billing information and then compare their usage against existing tariffs and offers – billmonitor, Mobilife and Shop Mobile Phones among them. But Bell argues that BidMyBill is different.
‘You could call us the anti-price comparator,’ he says. ‘Those other sites show all the tariffs and display them as a search function. They search all the available tariffs and say this is the best one for you based on your historic usage.
‘We don’t show any existing tariffs. We think you get a better deal because you will get the customer retention department looking at the deal and deciding to make you an individual offer – albeit one that may be an off-the-shelf tariff with a special offer thrown in.
The theory is that if resellers or operators know there are other phone companies bidding they will offer the customer a better deal. Bell compares the site to eBay. Customers will see an eBay-style dashboard where they can view the auction and see the offers coming in. The phone companies see a different dashboard, which will show how many auctions are happening and how many they have won or lost.
The big question is: will resellers and operators go for it? Bell has been wary about revealing too much about the actual business to operators and consumer resellers in case his idea is copied. But he says the company has spoken to quite a few resellers who mostly operate in the b2b space and claims they are interested.
‘It’s a no brainer on the b2b side,’ he says. ‘The reseller does not have to pay a lead generation company to find a potential business customer for them. They don’t have to travel to the customer, meet them, analyse their bills and then come up with an offer. With BidMyBill, the end customer chooses the reseller via the auction and the reseller acquires the customer at a fraction of what it used to cost them.’
Bell argues that networks should be interested in the site as it enables them to reduce customer acquisition costs and automate customer relations instead of cold-calling prospective customers.
Bell believes his service is 10 times more effective and cheaper than lead generation websites, as the phone company only pays a (smaller) fee if they win the auction.
He says that initial interest in the site has ‘gone really well’ and that one of the main five networks has registered, along with an MVNO, 22 business resellers and two of the main consumer phone retailers – one high street retailer and one online retailer. Auctions are not scheduled to begin for a couple of weeks yet.
Bell concludes: ‘We think that if we can get a handful of mobile phone resellers and a handful of consumer resellers, then we will have a viable bidding community. We only charge 10p for an auction so it is a very small commitment, and we take 3% of the contract value and b2b sales are capped at £200.’
BidMyBill is offering an initial no risk trial to users, who can get 1,000 free credits automatically if they create an account at bidmybill.com/resellers.