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I wanted to provide a few details about the contracts we sign with our clients, and the reasons behind the way we set up our relationships.
- Month-to-month only. We do not require anyone to sign fixed-length or automatically renewing contracts. Personally, I think they are kind of unethical. One of my clients recently had a verbal understanding with a supplier that they would cancel their contract, but they didn’t put it in writing within the deadline specified in the contract. As a result, they owe the server company over $5000 for a year’s worth of service that they will not be receiving, and the company has a really aggressive lawyer that so far has been totally unwilling to settle or negotiate anything. We’re not going to do that to you–if you are unhappy with our service, then you fire us, and that’s that. We do require at least one business week’s notice of cancellation, in order to finish up any tasks we were still in the middle of, and for us to try to get you to change your mind, but that’s it.
- Upgrading the contract. Our monthly contract fee is based on a number of factors, including the amount of data we have to process, the complexity of the transactions and financial activity, what kind of reporting you require, etc. We will give you ample notice if your books require us to upgrade you to a higher package.
- The communication clause. “Client acknowledges that communication is vital to doing accurate accounting and agrees to be contacted on a regular basis by Backyard Bookkeeper. Client also agrees to provide requested information, tax forms, statements, explanations, and general feedback in a timely manner.” In other words, we can’t complete your bookkeeping successfully without your full cooperation.
- Credit card. We require all clients to keep a credit card on file with us. Most of our clients are on an automatic billing schedule, but if you prefer to pay by check/ACH/Paypal/IPN, that’s fine–we just keep the credit card on file as backup. We are also happy to send you a reminder each month and wait for your verbal/written approval for when to run your card, if you prefer. We can be very flexible when it comes to payment arrangements.
- Liability. Even though we are assembling it, you are still responsible for the results. A bookkeeper is only as good as the information given him/her, and as careful as we are, we sometimes still make typos. So when we send you financial statements, it is very important that you review the results and confirm that they are accurate and reasonable. You are the one who has to sign the tax returns, or the mortgage refinance paperwork, etc., so it’s important that you agree with the work we have prepared.
- Data Storage, Protection, and Confidentiality. If we are storing your company file, then it is up to us to protect your data, and believe me, we have our data backed up every way we can think of. We have also put considerable time and effort into controlling access to confidential data, and you can be sure that none of our clients have access to each 0ther’s data. All shared passwords, credit card payment information, and other confidential data are stored with multiple levels of security and access restricted to only the parties involved. We will also never share or discuss any of your sensitive information with anyone you haven’t authorized us to talk to.
I hope this answers some of your questions about our contracts, and how we protect and take care of our customers.