Re: Billing is too confusing: how does it work?

Pat Augustine ( )
Thu, 24 Apr 1997 18:26:14 -0400

>Can someone please issue a clear, concise, step by step guide on:

I asked for this a month or so ago and didn't get a reply (though I did
get support from others asking the same question, thanks guys!). So I made
one up. It may not be how Dale envisioned it, it may not even be right, but
so far it works for me. Your mileage may vary, as our situations are
undoubtedly different. I have nobody who pays after the end of the
services, for example.

>Just one group of settings, so that when one "batches" invoices, they ALL
get >created.

I'm not sure this is possible, but I've got it down to a minimum of steps.
I, however, for simplicity, have taken to doing paper invoices on Mondays
and credit cards on Fridays.

>For example, I created two web-hosting user MBR's today. I set up their
>services. The defaults it set when the account was created were "paid thru
>today" and an expire date 14 days from now.

What finally worked for me is to set a Default Expire in Emerald
Administrator of 0 days. In other words, somebody expires the minute they
sign up. I put 15 days in the Extend field to give them access while
waiting for their first payment.
Why? The billing date is from Expire to Expire plus Payperiod. If you
create them with an expire date of 14 days from now, their first invoice is
from 14 days from now to a month from then and these 14 days are "free"
(inasmuch as there's not an invoice for that period). I didn't want that. I
wanted a billing period from the day they sign up to a month from then,
with a grace period to receive their first payment. Extend accomplishes
this, as it is automatically set to 0 when a payment is posted.
Unfortunately I can't get Default Extend (in Emerald Administrator) to
function so each new account has to have the Extend set manually. Not a big
deal, just something to remember.

>Finally, how would one account for signup fees in this billing process?

There's two ways you can do this. You can create a Charge for the Setup
Fee, then run the Charges (from the Batch Tab) so the charge will be
consolidated into the bill before creating their first bill. This can take
time if you have a lot of call data.
Or you can create a Service of "Setup Fee", add it to the MBR, create
their first Invoice and then delete the Service again so they don't get
billed for it each month, but it shows up on their first bill. This seems
more awkward than it is in practice, and soon becomes simple and easy (can
you guess which I do?).

> Why aren't there docs for this thing yet?

New docs were posted in the Beta area today, as I'm sure Dale will be
happy to point out (Thanks Dale! They aren't complete but they are a huge
improvement over nothing!).

Having said all that, and reminding you that this is the system I made up
and is not officially endorsed (and even changes as I find out what it does
and doesn't do well), here's what I'm doing as of Today. It works as far as
I can tell, though there are a few caveats. Use at your own risk, etc.

1. From the main Emerald Screen, click "Add".
2. Enter personal information (Name, address, etc).
3. On the Billing Tab, be certain to change the Pay Period field from
"Annual" to "Monthly" or whatever is correct.
4. Set the Extend (just under Expiration) to 15.
5. If the customer is using a credit card, be sure to check "Auto Bill" and
put the expiration date in in the form of YYMM (such as 9802).
6. Return to the Master Tab and hit Save. New Tabs will appear. Select
7. Hit "Add" and fill in the appropriate information. Most accounts are PPP
(standard dialup).
8. Add any additional services (additional Email, etc).
9. IF THEY ARE MONTHLY ONLY, add a service of "Setup Fee" unless they have
no setup fee for some reason. If you do this on a non-monthly account, the
setup fee will be charged for each month (ie, 3 times for Quarterly).
10. IF THEY ARE NOT MONTHLY, save the account and open it back up. On the
Master Tab, Click Charges and add a charge of "Setup Fee" at whatever you
charge. You'll have to manually key it in. Save the charge and the account.
Go to the Batch Tab and click Charges. This can take a while. This will
apply the charge to their invoice. Then follow the procedure below for
creating either an Invoice or Credit Card charge, depending on their
payment method.
11. IF THEY ARE INVOICE, While the account is open, pull down the Master
Menu and choose "Invoice Next Term". This will create an invoice for them,
you can see it in the Payments Tab.
12. IF THEY ARE CREDIT CARD, Save the account and go to the Batch Tab. Put
in todays date and set the Type to Credit Card. Click on Create. It should
say "Invoice 2 Services?" (login name and setup fee). If it's got the
correct number, click OK and a credit card charge will be created. You can
open up the account and verify it in the Payments Tab.
13. Once you've verified the invoice, go to the Services Tab and delete the
Setup Fee service, otherwise they'll be charged a Setup Fee each month.
14. Save the account and pull down the "External Systems" menu and choose
"Batch Accounts". Click OK or YES to all dialog boxes that come up. This
will create the email accounts (assuming you have External Systems
configured to do so).

When you are ready to batch, you should go to the Batch Tab. All new
signup invoices will already exist.
Click Charges to consolidate charges for existing customers.
It appears it works better if you do Credit Cards before Invoices. I
usually do Credit cards pretty close to expire date, as there's no need for
lead time if you are going to process them.
Put in the Date for which you wish to create a Credit Card Batch and set
the Type to Credit Card. Click create. It'll tell you how many, click ok if
it looks reasonable. It'll create them. Batch them out, process them in
your credit card software and batch them back in. They get marked as Sent
(I believe) in this process.
Put in the Date for which you wish to create Invoices (I usually do about
two weeks ahead). Be sure the type is set to Renewal. Click Create. It'll
tell you how many it's going to do. Click ok if it looks reasonable. It'll
create them. Clear the date and click print and all Invoices not marked as
Sent (including all those you created during the week, month, whatever for
new signups will print and give you the opportunity to mark them as sent.
If you do Invoices before batching credit cards, you will print an Invoice
for all your credit card people, too, so if that's what you want, great,
but otherwise watch out for that.

I hope this is helpful.

Pat Augustine
Interlink America