Bill-And-Hold Basis

DEFINITION of 'Bill-And-Hold Basis'

A method of conducting sales by billing the customer on the same day the transaction occurs, but not delivering the goods until a later date. Using the bill-and-hold basis is sometimes regarded as a controversial practice because allowing the seller to receive payment now, but making them wait a length of time before transferring the product could be used to inflate revenues meant for subsequent quarters.

BREAKING DOWN 'Bill-And-Hold Basis'

The bill-and-hold basis is one method of revenue recognition. According to the Securities and Exchange Commission, it is the buyer's responsibility to request that a transaction be on a bill-and-hold basis and must have substantial business purposes in doing so. In addition to those criteria, any goods sold under this basis must be finished goods at the time of sale and not be available to fulfill any other orders.

In 1998, Sunbeam CEO, Al Dunlap used a bill-and-hold strategy in order to make Sunbean's financial performance better than it really was by artificially inflating Sun Beam's revenue by 18%. Eventually, Dunlap was relieved of his station as the board of directors realized that he did not do anything to materially improve the company's financial situation.