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Managing Contract Terms 

Note
  • Contract Terms feature is available only on select plans. To know more, visit Chargebee's Plans and Pricing page.
  • Contact [email protected]  if you wish to enable this feature in your Chargebee site.

As your business scales up and you sell to high-value customers, every new prospect brings challenges such as new price points, terms, and conditions. Providing contractual support or a lock-in period at the subscription level might help. But managing complex billing workflows such as automatic renewals and cancellations for each subscription based on their specific terms is arduous.

Chargebee enables you to retain customers in subscriptions for a specific number of billing cycles. You can define contract terms for each subscription and automate all the subscription workflows based on their respective terms. Chargebee supports the following workflows for managing contract terms. You can:

  • Override the price of a plan at subscription level.
  • Specify if the subscription being created is on contract.
  • Define the contract renewal terms.
  • Define the cancellation terms.
  • Apply a termination fee.

Chargebee allows you to create subscriptions with flexible contract terms based on your plan's billing frequency and the number of billing cycles. Here's a simple formula to understand how a contract term is calculated:

Contract Term = Billing Frequency of Plan X No. of Billing Cycles for Subscription

Here are some examples:

Example 1:

To create an annual contract and charge the customer on a monthly basis, create a monthly plan (that generates invoices once in every month) and configure the number of billing cycles for the subscription to be 12.

1 Year Contract Term = 1 month plan X 12 billing cycles

Example 2:

To create a 3 years contract and charge the customer on a quarterly basis, create a quarterly plan (that generates invoices once in 3 months) and configure the number of billing cycles for the subscription to be 12.

3 Years Contract Term = 3 months plan X 12 billing cycles

Let us look at how Chargebee helps you with automatic renewal and cancellation for subscriptions that are created with contract terms.

Renewal Workflow 

Introducing contract terms to subscriptions unlocks more business opportunities. However, each one of these subscriptions are unique based on your business needs and the customer's need. Renewing these subscriptions manually could get more tedious.

You can configure automatic renewal of subscriptions with contract terms in Chargebee. You can move customers from subscription with contract to subscription without contract model without having to create newer subscriptions for them. You can define rules in Chargebee for how subscriptions on contract should renew, like:

  • Renewing subscription for the same duration.
  • Renewing subscription for a different duration.
  • Cancelling contract and the subscription.
  • Cancelling contract but continuing the subscription.

This not only reduces manual intervention for you during renewals, but reduces even your customer churn by allowing your subscriptions to continue as active.

Cancellation Workflow 

Ideally, a subscription that is created on contract for a specific number of billing cycles should not be cancelled during the contract term. It kills the purpose of creating contract terms - to bring stable revenue to your business and to make up for all the price cuts you took early on.

Chargebee gives you complete control to handle cancellations for your customers, as you see fit. When your customers want to cancel their subscription, you can opt for one of the following options:

  • Allow them to cancel only during the end of the contract term - The cancellation initiated during the contract period will only cancel the subscription at the end of the contract term, and the subscription will not renew.
  • Terminate Immediately - The contract and the subscription gets terminated immediately.

In both the cases, Chargebee allows you to decide how you want to handle credits for the unused period in the subscription.

Cut-off Period for Cancellations : You can configure a cut-off period for customers to cancel their subscriptions. For example, you can set a cut-off period of 1 month or 10 days before the subscription auto renews. During this period, Chargebee will intimate your customers about the subscription renewal and that they can cancel the subscription if they do not want it to renew.

A subscription on contract can be cancelled in one of the following ways:

  • Chargebee Interface: A subscription on contract can be cancelled by your users in Chargebee from the subscription details page.
  • Self-serve Portal: A subscription on contract can be cancelled by your customers from self-serve portal, if you have enabled "Allow customers to cancel subscriptions" under portal settings for contract terms.
Note
  • Termination of subscription on contract is possible only from the Chargebee Interface.
  • When a customer cancels a subscription on contract from self-serve portal, the subscription will be cancelled at the end of the contract term only.
  • API: A subscription on contract can also be cancelled using the API.

Contract Termination & Fee 

Chargebee allows you to charge a termination fee for customers who want to terminate a subscription on contract immediately. You can create a non-recurring addon for termination fee and add this to the subscription, to charge customer whenever the contract is terminated.

However, you have the flexibility to override the termination fee on a need basis. You can use change subscription to either reduce the fee or remove the addon to waive off the fee for customers. This opens more avenues for negotiation which could result in retaining the customer.

Apart from handling the above workflows, contract management in Chargebee even allows you to capture the contract term value and provide flexibility to your customers to upgrade/downgrade the subscription during the course of the contract term.

Configuring Contract Terms 

To set up contract terms in your Chargebee site, click Settings > Configure Chargebee > Billing > Contract Terms and click Enable.

  1. In Contract Terms, select how you want the subscriptions to renew, when the contract term ends. You can select from the following options:
    • Contract renews: a new contract and subscription gets created for a specific number of billing cycles.
    • Subscription renews without a contract: The subscription will remain active without the contract terms.
    • Contract and Subscription end: This stops the subscription and the contract upon renewal.
  2. When you choose to renew the contract,
    1. Select the number of billing cycles for which the subscription should renew. You can either choose Same as specified in Contract or choose Custom and specify a value.
    2. In the Cut-off period for cancellation, specify the number of days before the Contract Renewal/Contract Expiration, when the customer can cancel their subscription. You can override all of these settings at a subscription level, while creating or modifying the subscription.
  3. Under Subscription termination, you can select how you want to handle credits for unused period when a subscription on contract is terminated. You can select from the following options:
    • Don't Issue Credits
    • Issue Prorated Credits
    • Issue Full Credits
    Additionally, you can add conditions to handle this differently based on where the subscription cancellation is being invoked. Click the more icon and add conditions to this rule. Select a source, and add the corresponding behaviour. For instance, you can issue full credits when your users invoke cancellation from the Chargebee Interface, otherwise for all customers who cancel subscriptions from the self-serve portal, you may choose not to issue credits. You can turn the toggle on/off to allow/lock the overriding capability. When overriding is allowed, users will be able to change this global setting at a subscription level.
  4. If there are existing unpaid invoices for the subscription that is being cancelled, you can choose to
    • Retain as unpaid: No further action will be taken.
    • Attempt Collection: If Auto-collection is ON for the customer, an automatic charge for the due amount will be attempted on the available payment method.
    • Write off: The amount that is due will be written off. Credit notes that get created for the write off will not be sent in response.
  5. Under when do you want to cancel the subscription, you can select:
    • Terminate immediately
    • End of contract term
  6. Under Advanced Settings, if there are existing unbilled charges for the terminated subscription, you can select:
    • Invoice - An invoice gets raised for the unbilled charges, and when the auto-collection is turned on for the customer, an automatic charge for the due amount is attempted on the available payment method.
    • Delete - The unbilled charges get deleted.
  7. And finally, you can turn the toggle on to apply refundable credits/excess payments to unpaid invoices.

Once you are done, click Apply to save your configuration.

Go to Settings > Configure Chargebee > Checkout & Self-serve Portal > Portal. You can enable Portal for Contract Terms to configure fields that customers on contract subscriptions will see on their self-serve portal.

Once you are done, you can start creating subscriptions with contract terms.

Creating Subscriptions with Contract Terms 

To create a new subscription with contract terms, navigate to Subscriptions > Create Subscription. In the new subscription details page, once you have specified the customer details, you can click to enable contract terms for this subscription.

Three new fields for the subscription will be displayed with values auto-populated from the global settings for contract terms. You can click and modify these values based on your requirement for each customer/subscription.

Once you click Create Subscription, your subscription gets saved with corresponding contract terms.

Note
  • You need to specify the number of billing cycles in order to apply contract terms for the subscription.
  • Contract terms once applied to a subscription, can not be removed from the subscription. You can modify the contract terms, but you can not disable/remove the contract terms altogether from the subscription. You will only have to delete the subscription and create one without the contract terms.
  • You can not pause a subscription that is created on contract terms.
  • You can raise advance invoices for subscriptions on contract within the current contract term.

The subscription details page for a subscription created on contract, highlights the contract related details such as the number of days left on the contract along with the date of renewal or expiry.

New actions related to the contract terms get added to the action pane for subscriptions.

  • Bill Future renewals - Clicking this action generates an invoice for the customer for the upcoming subscription renewal. This option is available only when you have allowed contract renewal.
  • Cancel Subscription - Clicking this action displays a pop up, where you can select when you want to cancel the subscription - at the end of contract term or immediately.
    • You can specify how you want to handle credits for the unused period. This value is auto populated based on your global setting, but you can modify it here to suit the customer case.
    • When you choose to terminate immediately, you can specify a termination fee that will be charged for the cancellation.
Note
  • The Contract Terms feature is currently supported only in the In-app Checkout via API.
  • This feature is supported only in the In-app Self Serve Portal, and is not supported in older versions of hosted pages.
  • Once you enable Contract Terms in your Chargebee site, you can enable the Contract Terms while creating a quote.

Emailing Customers who are in Contract 

You can send emails to customers who are in contract and notify them when their contract ends, renews or terminates. Go to Settings>Configure Chargebee>Customer-Facing Essentials>Email notifications. Under Subscription Management, click Subscriptions with contract terms and enable the notifications that you'd like to send.

Disabling Contract Terms 

To disable contract terms in your Chargebee site, navigate to Settings > Configure Chargebee > Billing > Contract Terms and click Disable.

Note
  • You can not create subscriptions on contract once you disable the Contract Terms feature in your Chargebee site.
  • Existing subscriptions that are still on contract will continue to follow the contract terms as per your previous settings.

FAQ 

1. Can subscriptions with contract terms and subscriptions without contract terms be created for a single plan?

Yes, you can create and manage subscriptions with contract terms and subscriptions without contract terms for the same plan.

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