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Sending Digital Invoices

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What to do if you send an invoice in error.

There are certain precautions you must follow when sending a digital invoice to a business customer as rectifying a mistake afterwards can cause more time, cost and paperwork on your behalf depending on the type of error made on your invoice.

 

If you have not yet submitted your invoice then of course you can edit it however many times you like before it is sent. It is always wise to recheck your invoice to ensure there are no mistakes. However once you send an invoice then there are certain particulars you will not be able to edit thereafter and will have to send a credit note and reissue them with a new invoice and invoice number. It is therefore crucial to ensuring your invoice is correct before you send it to ensure that you receive payment on time. 

 

If for instance you send an invoice and realise the value is wrong or that you have not provided a relevant/promised discount, then the business customer can dispute this and you will be required to issue a credit note for that amount and then reissue a new invoice containing the correct amount along with a new Invoice number. However if you only need to make a minor change i.e. you misspell a word, enter an incorrect contact number or name you can simply edit the original invoice and resend this to your business customer keeping the original invoice number and date. 

The former scenario will have a significant bearing on the time allowance you have provided for payment in full of the invoice. For instance, if you send an invoice with a 30 day grace period but then are made aware after 10 days by the customer that the final amount is wrong, the onus is on you to correct that amount before the business customer makes payment and of course they would be well within their rights to withhold paying until the amount has been corrected. Whilst the customer may still have 20 days to pay the original amount you would be within your rights to keep to the original payment due date when sending a new invoice with a new date and Invoice number but only provide 20 days time to pay to keep within your original 30 day deadline - unless you have stated otherwise in a prior agreement or contract. However it may be reasonable to reissue the invoice with a 30 day time period as a gesture of goodwill towards your business customer, effectively re-setting the 30 day time period, unless your customer is happy to stick to the original due date.

 

There is not set rule regarding this and it should be done on a case-by-case basis. If however the Invoice needs editing to correct a minor spelling mistake or contact admission and thus doesn't require a new invoice sending then it may be unreasonable for the business customer to ask for another 30 days because of this error, and you would be well within your rights to continue with the original due date. It is always advisable however to send a follow up email or message clarifying that the original payment date remains unaffected and to continue sending reminders as usual so there can be no ambiguity or retrospective blame attributed to this error by the business customer


Business Planning

Whilst Invoices are not legally binding from the point of being sent, they are considered legally binding retrospectively when payment is made. Therefore, you cannot edit the original invoice once paid by changing the final value or entering additional items that you initially forgot to add and thus changed the overall value and content. Doing this could land you in hot water, so if there is a service or product you did not originally invoice your business customer for, then it is advised to send a separate invoice detailing those products and/or services which you initially forgot to add.

 

Contrastingly a business customer cannot refuse to pay an invoice for any particulars which you forgot to add on your original invoice providing that the product or service was part of the original transaction. Also a business customer cannot withhold paying an original invoice if they state that not all products and services have been added. You can simply request they pay that original invoice within the agreed time period and then follow up with the difference on another invoice afterwards with a specified time to pay. Unfortunately some businesses will want you to reissue the original invoice containing the missing amount however this can be a stall tactic so you reset the clock and they are given extra time to pay.

 

It’s required by law that you always keep a copy of all invoices you issue for control purposes, including those which were sent but incorrect.

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