Last modified: 25 Dec 2007
WARNING: This documentation covers Parallels H-Sphere versions up to 3.1. For the latest up-to-date Parallels H-Sphere documentation, please proceed to the
official Parallels site.
One of H-Sphere's biggest assets is that it provides fully automated billing
for credit card payment accounts. It also supports other types of payments including
check payments, web payment systems, wire transfers, etc. This document provides a
quick overview of all billing features in H-Sphere.
Hosting resources and services are sold in plans, each having its own price scheme.
In plan settings, the administrator needs to set:
- which resources will be available in the plan;
- prices, free units, and max units for each resource;
- credit limit, moneyback period, billing type, etc.
Plans in H-Sphere can be commercial and free. Free plans are typically used
to host your corporate site, use an external billing system, or to disable
billing for any other reasons. Commercial plans require payments
by credit cards or checks. Commercial plans can allow trial
hosting for a limited period of time.
Trial hosting enables users to sign up for a plan and use it for a certain number of
days without paying. If a trial user decides to continue and become a pay user,
H-Sphere charges (1) for the resources that were purchased/used during the trial period and
(2) recurrent fees for the next billing period. If a user decides to quit, the account gets
suspended when the trial period ends.
For the system to be able to charge customers for the resources
and services, each pay user should enter the information about credit
cards or check account. Such info is contained in user's billing
profile. One billing profile can be used for several accounts.
At the same time customers can have multiple billing profiles, but
only one active at a time. Trial and free accounts don't have billing profiles.
The system charges users three types of fees:
- Setup: only when a user purchases a resource.
- Recurrent: at the beginning of the billing period or billing month.
- Overlimit: for resources used beyond the pre-paid limit
(e.g. summary disk space usage, traffic, etc.).
Fees are calculated based on prices and billing periods.
You can include a certain amount of free resources in a plan.
If need arises, users can get more, until they reach the maximum
amount of resources you have allowed them to have. For instance,
you can include 5 free mailboxes in the plan and allow users to have
no more than 10 mailboxes.
Usage of some resources, such as disk space and traffic, can be
controlled additionally by resource limits. A user can exceed a
resource limit, but every excess unit is charged at the overlimit
price. You can configure H-Sphere to send warnings and suspend
accounts when users approach or exceed traffic or disk usage limit.
You can create many billing periods within a plan for customers
to choose from. Billing periods allow you to set discounts for each
individual price type - setup, recurrent, and overlimit. The bigger
billing period, the bigger the discount.
You can manually credit (put money to) individual accounts.
Do this when you receive check or other non-credit-card payments
from customers or when you need to refund a payment. These amounts
are credited to the account balance, not credit cards.
You can debit (take money from) individual accounts. Accounts
are debited manually when you need to charge your customers extra
You can configure your system to debit accounts on regular basis
for services offered outside H-Sphere, for instance, antivirus
H-Sphere allows you to switch between the two modes of
charging: credit limit based and anniversary based. In credit
limit based mode customers are charged every time their balance exceeds
credit limit. In
anniversary based mode charges are done at the end of each billing period or month, depending on
type of the fee.
Actual use of traffic cannot be physically restricted, but can be regulated
by charging higher prices for overlimit traffic consumption. At the beginning
of the billing period customers pay for traffic they expect to run up. If
they go over this pre-paid limit, they are charged for the excess gigabytes
at the overlimit rate at the end of each billing month regardless the duration
of the billing period.
H-Sphere offers two approaches to paying for disk space. Disk Space Quota
is used to charge users for booked disk space. Web, mail, and database resources
take separate quotas within the same account. Disk quota can't be exceeded, but
users can raise it if they need more disk space. Summary Disk Space is used
to charge users for actually used disk space. With summary disk space, users can
exceed disk space limit, and pay for excess megabytes at the overlimit rate at the
end of each billing month regardless the duration of the billing period.
When creating plans, you choose whether you want H-Sphere to e-mail invoices to
users immediately after they buy resources. With e-mail invoicing on, customers
will receive invoices for every single bill entry, e.g. overlimit traffic. With
e-mail invoicing off, customers will get no invoices, even at the end of the
billing period. After signup, users can change this option for their accounts.
H-Sphere allows you to apply taxes, such as VAT, to customer charges. Taxes are
added to the summary invoice amounts.
You can wave individual users from paying taxes. At signup, users enter tax
exemption code, then you need to approve or reject it.
You can apply promotions to plans. You can give a
promo code to eligible users to offer them a discount. Or you can create
an unnamed promotion that will apply to all accounts under this plan for
a specified period of time, for instance the month before Christmas.
You can set how many days your customers can stay in debt
before they receive a negative balance warning, or get their
account suspended or deleted.
On some account activities, such as quitting hosting, changing plans, or deleting
paid resources, H-Sphere automatically returns recurrent charges by crediting
customer's account balance. Refunds are calculated based on the moneyback period,
refund percentage and the resource billing type. If a customer quits with positive
balance, you need to send him the remaining amount by check.
A billing statement is a detail comulative record of paid activity
reflecting all charges and credits incurred during a billing period.
This means each billing statement represents user's paid activity during the billing period.
Starting with H-Sphere 3.0, billing statements get sequential numbering.
In other words, each billing statement is identified by account id and statement id in the format account_id-statement_id.
For example, account_id-1, account_id-2, ...