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Bill and Hold

Bill and Hold

What Is Bill and Hold?

A bill and hold is a type of sales arrangement that empowers payment ahead of the delivery of the thing. It is a sales arrangement wherein a seller of a product bills a customer for the product upfront yet doesn't ship the product until a later date.

For a transfer of ownership to happen and the product to be conveyed, certain conditions must be met. These conditions incorporate payment for the goods, that the goods be segregated from all other comparable goods by the seller, and that the goods be done and ready for use.

Bill and hold sales agreements are also normally alluded to as "bill set up" agreements.

Grasping Bill and Hold

The bill and hold arrangement might be beneficial for both the buyer and the seller, however great care must be taken by the two players to guarantee that all of the criteria are met. In the event that the arrangement doesn't meet all of the stated criteria, there will be no transfer of ownership. This means that revenue can't be recognized by the seller, and no assets or inventory can be recorded by the buyer connected with this transaction.

There have been numerous scandals encompassing a bill and hold arrangement in the corporate world, and care must be taken while analyzing this type of financial shenanigans.

Bill and Hold Example

A classic model is Sunbeam's ploy in November of 1996. To help sales during CEO Al Dunlap's "circle back year," Sunbeam persuaded retailers to buy gas barbecues a full six months before they were required — not a terrible move, if you need to broaden the seasonal idea of gas barbecue sales.

In exchange for big discounts, retailers readily purchased merchandise they wouldn't receive until some other time despite everything wouldn't need to pay for until an additional six months in the wake of being invoiced. To make the arrangement even better, Sunbeam agreed to store the barbecues in leased third-party warehouses until customers mentioned them.

Sunbeam initially reserved the sales and profits from all $35 million in bill and hold transactions. In any case, in response to questions raised by the organization's auditor, Sunbeam before long switched an astounding $29 million of the $35 million in revenue, yielding it was recognized too rapidly and shifting the sales to future quarters. Tricky business moves and subsequent accounting medicines like this have earned these methods the moniker "stuffing the channel."


  • Bill and hold agreements can be positive for both the buyer and the seller, especially when the seller gives a discount or other incentive for the buyer to give what is essentially an early payment.
  • Bill and hold agreements address a sales arrangement in which the buyer pays for the thing or things a seller is offering, however the seller doesn't ship or deliver them right away yet sometime in the not too distant future.
  • Bill and hold agreements have on occasion been mishandled by corporations as a method for giving the impression that they posted bigger sales in a specific quarter or year than they actually did.