Taking payments by Direct Debit

When taking payments via BECS Direct Debit, you need to give your customers the relevant notification before submitting the payment request to the banks.


Here we explain how to submit payments to your bank, and the response messages you will receive.

Notifying your customers of payments

Payment terms can be flexible. They are usually agreed with customers in the the Direct Debit request and Service Agreement. Depending on the service provided, this could be a fixed amount taken at set intervals, or variable amounts depending on the bill, paid as and when needed.

You need to clarify this with your customer from the outset. For regular fixed amount payments, you can issue a single notification with details of the frequency and amount.

On the other hand, for payments that vary in due date and amount, billing advice slips containing the payment date and amount should be issued to the customer before each payment.

You must give the customer at least 14 days notice if there are any changes to the original Service Agreement, including payment terms.

Submitting payment requests to the banks

Once a customer has signed the Direct Debit request, you can collect payments by submitting a payment request to BECS through your bank. Each request is sent to your sponsor bank and also routed to your customer’s bank.

On the day the payment is due, your bank credits your account, while your customer’s bank debits theirs. The two banks then settle up between themselves.

More detail on the submission process is available here.

Post-submission

If a payment is successful your account will simply be credited. But if a payment fails, the customer’s bank will send a message through BECS with information about the failure. For full details on these messages see the Messages from the Banks section.

You are required to provide customers with a receipt for successful payments.

Customer claims

Customers can request a refund for Direct Debit payments taken from their account under certain circumstances. The customer will need to fill out a Direct Debit Customer Claim form, which their bank will submit to the Debit User’s bank on their behalf.

It’s normally only a very low percentage of payments that receive such refund requests, but it’s important to understand the process - see Customer Protection for more details.

Returned, refused, or failed Direct Debit payments

If a Direct Debit payment request is not paid, it must be returned electronically through the BECS system to the Debit User’s bank no later than close of business on the next working day.

Taking Direct Debit payments through GoCardless

GoCardless process Direct Debit payments on your behalf, including:

  • Setting up and checking Direct Debit requests
  • Notifying customers: GoCardless sends customers a billing advice slip, if needed
  • Submitting payment requests: GoCardless handles all submissions to the bank on your behalf
  • Collecting as fast as possible: GoCardless has optimised the Direct Debit collection process to make collecting funds as fast as possible.
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