Legal billing options
We have a sophisticated billing system which allows several customer options. Some of these may be selected when setting up an account. Some require you to contact our accounts department to change them.
The preferred billing option monthly Direct Debit.
Some services are provided on an ongoing basis. For these you are billed periodically, normally in advance on the first day of the period covered by the bill. We can insist on calendar monthly bills if we wish, but this would normally be if we are having problems with your payments being made on-time. We can also invoice you several days before the period starts.
The following billing periods are available. They relate to all services on the account. We recommend monthly.
- Calendar monthly: Invoices are for the whole month from the 1st of each calendar month.
- Four Weekly: Invoices cover a 4 week period, the exact starting week can be adjusted if required (e.g. to align with salary or benefit payments arriving). Prices are based on 23% of our monthly rates for each week billed.
- Lunar monthly: Invoices are issued each full moon for the period to the day before the next full moon. Prices are based on 97% of our monthly rate for each lunar cycle. Yes, we really do this and we really have customers that use it.
- Quarterly: Invoices are for Jan-Mar, Apr-Jun, Jul-Sep, and Oct-Dec. We can adjust which month the quarter starts on if necessary. See note below.
- Annually: Invoices are for the whole year from 1st Jan. We do not normally provide annual billing. We can adjust which month the year starts on if necessary. See note below.
Partial period bills
When a service starts or ends your bill may be for a partial period, e.g. 1.5 months, so as to align to the selected billing cycle. When working out how many months a period is, we work on whole days. Part days count as a whole day. For billing cycles based on calendar months, each day is considered as a part of its month - i.e. 1/28th or 1/29th of February. For billing based on weeks, each day or part is 1/7th of a week. For lunar billing, lunar months are considered 29 or 30 days based the full moon being the first day of the lunar month, and so each day is 1/29th or 1/30th of its lunar cycle.
Note that most services are billed in advance, and if you are ceasing a service or migrating away the billing continues as normal until the cease or migrate completes, and then a credit is issued for part of a period that will billed in advance, back to the actual date of the cease/migrate. This normally results in an automatic cancel or refund of any Direct Debit collection.
We have several credit terms options available, and can provide custom terms if required. Credit is not a right and provided at our discretion only. Credit may be withdrawn. All terms are based on the invoice date/time (tax point) as stated on the invoice (even if the invoice is in advance for future services). All terms define the date/time by which payment must actually arrive - either at our offices or in our bank account.
- No credit: Most consumer accounts are set up with no credit. We do allow 7 days for payment to arrive, and this credit is charged at 0% APR. This normally applies where paying by direct debit.
- 7 working days: Business customers are normally on 7 working day terms as this allows ample time for payment to be sent by cheque, BACS, fast payment, or other means. This also covers the time taken for a direct debit payment to be collected with notice.
- 30 calendar days: A common business credit term is 30 days. This is exactly 30 days from the invoice date/time.
- End of following month: Another common business credit term used by the construction industry. This requires payment by 5pm on the last working day of the month after the invoice date.
As payment must arrive in our bank on time, we normally stipulate the last banking day within the above terms as the date by which payment must arrive, and normally 18:29:59 on that day as this is the cut off for fast payments to be recording on the day they are sent. In any case the exact due date and time is stated on each invoice.
If you have requested Direct Debit before the invoice is issued, we automatically extend the terms to cover the time taken for Direct Debit to be set up. If you have picked a specific day in the month for your Direct Debit payment we will adjust terms to fit that date and aim to collect on, or immediately after, the date you have chosen.
Even if we offer credit terms, we may request that initial payment for new customers is in advance or sent before we provide equipment or enable services.
We are happy to provide a formal letter confirming your agreed credit terms if you wish. If you need different terms, please ask our accounts department. Business customers have to pay within terms to avoid statutory late payment penalties. For consumers we do charge interest on late payments.
If new credit terms are agreed they apply to invoices issued after that point. Each invoice has a clearly stated date by which payment must arrive based on the credit terms in force at the time the invoice was issued.
We have several payment options.
- Direct Debit: This is the preferred payment option for all regular customers or those with ongoing services. We send an emailed notice of collection 5 working days in advance of collecting from your bank account. If you pay the same amount at the start of every month then we will send a notice advising this and then do not send a notice each following month unless the amount changes. You can pick a preferred date for us to collect payment if you wish.
- BACS: You can pay by bank transfer such as internet banking or standing order. Bank details are on each invoice. We are normally happy for you to pay by BACS as long as the payment arrives in our bank dated within terms and with the correct payment reference. If you send payment without the correct reference we may charge an admin fee, though we may credit/cancel this the first time. BACS payments take two working days, so allow for English public holidays when making payment.
- Fast payments: Most internet banking payments now use fast payments where the payment arrives within minutes. You can pay using fast payments like this. However, the date payment is considered made is the date as shown on our statement - a payment sent over a non banking day or after 6:30pm will therefore be dated the next banking day.
- Card payment: We do not normally take payment by credit or debit card. Note that you can make a fast payment from most UK banks now and we can ship goods immediately based on such payments.
- Cheque: You can pay by cheque if you wish. You have to ensure it arrives at our offices within the payment terms, so you should allow for postal delays. We only get post on working days (not Saturdays). An admin fee of £5.00 will be added to your next regular invoice for each cheque we receive. We are asking all those paying by cheque to change to BACS or Direct Debit.
- Cash: We do not normally handle cash. Sending cash by post is at your risk and not recommended. We don't accept postage stamps as a means of payment.
- Bank counter: You can pay in cash or cheques at the bank using our bank details (as stated on the invoice). This will normally appear the same day if paid in early enough at a branch of our bankers. However, counter payments rarely show the correct payment reference (they can do if you can persuade the cashier to put it on the credit). If the payment does not have the correct reference you may have to contact us to confirm the payment and we may charge an admin fee.
If you are making a one-off purchases then we would expect payment as cheque with order or using fast payments (ask our accounts staff to check it has arrived). We may require this for the initial invoice for a new customer even if setting up payment by other means.
We apply payments to your account with us, clearing the oldest invoices by due date. As such you do not have to send several separate payments for multiple invoices on the same account - one payment will be fine.
It is also very important that if you are not paying an invoice for some reason, and paying later invoices, that you let us know the dispute for the invoice you are not paying - otherwise your payment will clear that invoice and leave later ones unpaid.
Your payment must include your account reference with us (e.g. A1234A), and as such it is not necessary or helpful to send a separate remittance advice.
Ongoing service P/O and reference
Ongoing services will be shown on your periodic bill. The bill will normally have all of the services listed on the one invoice.
When ordering a service you normally have two options - purchase order number (P/O) and reference. If you specify a P/O then we will group all of the services which have the same P/O on the same invoice, and ensure services with a different P/O are not on the same invoice. Using different P/Os means one invoice for each P/O each period.
Where a reference is specified we aim to quote this on the individual line items on the invoice to help you identify the services we are supplying.
Obviously we are prepared to occasionally change the P/O and reference on a service if you need, especially if you have made a mistake. However, we do not accommodate a different P/O on each monthly bill - the P/O is to apply to the ongoing service.
We normally operate on the basis that each legal entity that is a customer has one account with us for all services. The P/O and reference options allow different sites to be billed on different invoices if required, but one account. If you have set up multiple accounts by mistake, please do contact our accounts department who can merge them in to one account for you.
However, some large customers operate different business units. We can set up multiple accounts for a customer in such cases. If you have multiple accounts you must make separate payments for each. If you are paying multiple accounts with one payment we will merge the accounts in to one, or charge an admin fee each time we have to split the payment.
If you also supply goods or services to us we normally operate a single account, and will pay, or accept payment, of the net balance due.
End of following month - batch billing
Customers with end of following month credit terms will, by default, have batch billing. This means that we will try and ensure we only invoice you once each period. One off charges will normally be issued as a proforma invoice on your account (not normally sent to you, but visible on the accounts web pages). These are then included on you regular invoice with other regular service charges. Many customers with complex payment systems find one bill per period useful. However, we cannot guarantee only one invoice per period. You can have this turned off on your account if you prefer. Customers with batch billing and longer than a monthly period (e.g. quarterly) can receive an interim monthly invoice if there are new services or additional charges due rather than these being delayed for more than a month. If you have selected different purchase orders for services they will result in multiple invoices as each invoice quotes only one purchase order reference.
For regular periodic bills, customers with end of following month credit terms are billed one day before the start of the period (i.e. the last day of the previous month for monthly/quarterly billing). This means payment is due within 28 to 31 days depending on the length of the following month.
Some customers on quarterly or annual billing with 30 day credit terms fail to pay within the 30 days. If customers persistently pay late in such cases we may change your account to split billing. This means your quarterly bill or annual bill will become 3 or 4 invoices - one for each month or quarter. They are issued on the same day with the same payment terms at the start of the period, and can be paid by one payment - so they are equivalent to once invoice for the quarter of year. Of course, if you would prefer your bills to be split by month like this we can set this up on any account. Each bill incurs commercial late payment penalties independently.
Direct Debit and credit terms
Credit terms are there to allow you time to send us payment. They are not an interest free loan with every invoice. We understand that many companies have complex and time consuming processes for approving invoices and sending payment - hence allowing the time to pay.
If you are paying by Direct Debit, then the time taken to pay is down to us. It is how long it takes us to collect payment. We have a BACS run every day and so can collect payment within 2 working days (or 5 working days with the notice email sent for changed amounts). As such, we only need the invoices to have credit terms long enough to allow for us to collect payment.
As such it makes no sense to have Direct Debit and long payment terms like 30 days. That would only make sense if we were giving an interest free loan with every invoice!
Having said that - we would rather payment by Direct Debit. It is cheaper and more reliable than most other payment methods. So, we do allow Direct Debit and long credit terms to exist at the same time. This allows time for you to have invoices approved and signed off before the money is taken - and so time to query the invoice if you think there is a mistake. If there is a query, it is obviously better to correct this (e.g. credit note), and then take the right money, rather than have to send a refund later.
With Direct Debit and long terms we will take the payment soon enough for us to be able to try again within the terms if there is a problem. This normally means around 7 working days before the end of the payment terms. For end of month terms and 30 day billed on the 1st this is usually around the 20th to 22nd of the month. However you can tell us a preferred date for collection if you prefer from 1st, 9th, 17th or 25th. Bank holidays, especially in December, have an impact on the exact date, obviously.
We will send advance notice of each payment 5 working days before it leaves your account if the amount or date changes.
Business customers are normally billed showing the VAT exclusive amount for the goods/services, and then VAT added to the total at the end.
Consumers are normally billed showing the VAT inclusive amount for the goods/services and a total at the end. If issuing a formal VAT invoice we show a summary of the NET and VAT at the end.
However, you can opt for either style of billing if you prefer. This can make a difference of pence in some cases.
Some of our consumer targeted tariffs are only available to non-VAT registered customers as a condition of the tariff option. In such cases a VAT inclusive invoice is issued which is not a formal VAT invoice, does not have a breakdown of VAT charged and cannot be used to reclaim VAT. Only VAT registered customers can demand that we provide a formal VAT invoice, and if you make such a demand where you have services that are only for non-VAT-registered customers, your bill will be credited and re-issued on the corresponding business tariff as a formal VAT invoice, and the additional charges will be due.
Invoice email format
Invoices are sent by email. They always include in the email a plain text version of the invoice, which is the formal invoice. As a courtesy, we normally attach to the email a PDF version of the invoice with our full letterhead for printing.
You can opt to have the invoice in plain text only if you prefer, with no PDF attachment.
In either case, the plain text is electronically signed as required by European electronic invoicing directives. It is not encrypted.
The PDF invoice may have attached information as well - e.g. information relating to the invoice, or new services, or changes to terms, etc. The plain text states if there is such an attachment. If you are unable to open the PDF from the email then it is also available on-line. Ask our accounts department if you need any help.
We also have the option of an XML bill which you can access on the control pages or have emailed to you on your bill. This provides the bill in a form you can automatically process, and includes itemised call and text details.