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Popcorn Woes

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As a bit of a quick back story - my wife and I just took over our failing pack last year, so we're very new to this.


This is our first year doing the popcorn fundraiser with our Pack. It has been an experience, for certain. It mostly went well, with one exception and I hope you can help me. Almost all of the families turned in their popcorn monies with the exception of 2, and I don't know what to do about it.


Family 1 - Most of their money has been turned in, with the exception of about $100. When asked about it, they said that they tried to collect, but at least one of their buyers has backed out. They want to continue to try to collect it, but I feel that at some point they need to turn in the money OR the merchandise.


Family 2 - They owe about $200. They've turned in NO money. They're very evasive when asked ("Oh yeah, we're working on it"). And we have to pester them for new information, they don't seems to care to try to make an effort to work with us.


We've talked to both families in person, we've mailed them, etc. I think that they both need to pay or return the popcorn (not that I know what to do with it if they returned it, but still...). Unfortunately, I ultimately have no power over the situation. It's not like I can dock their wages! The only recourse I can see is to "suspend" the Cub Scouts from attending anything (meetings, parties, etc), until this is resolved. But my wife feels that this is punishing the boys, when it's really the parents that have failed.


Our pack is small and struggling and I can't just eat this money.


Any suggestions?

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I have no ifdea ( at the moment) as what to say in the way of advice except this: Did they signfor that popcorn? Do you have a sign off for parents who get popcorn?


Our pack has two options:

1) Sell popcorn, then pack orders apropriate amount based on what you sold. Then you pick up and SIGN for that popcorn.

2) Instead of selling, you have a $20.00 opt out.


If you do not have a sign for sheet, I'd get onein the future for just this reason. Then you at least have a signature of somebody saying that they are responsible for either the popcorn or the money.


But in a different light..If parents do not pay for any other afterschool programs, camps, or whatever, it's always the kid ythat gets punished. It sure sucks, but then,the parents have to explain to Jr why he is left out .


Or at the least, Jr can attend pack/ den meetings, but just doesb'r advance or recieve awards, ribbons, pins, badges , or anything that costs the pack money. No camps, or PWD either.


Biggest thing I'd do though is draw you up some sign off slips. For some reason I cannot think of what you call them. Requisitions? Waviers? Recepts?

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Scoutfish has a good point. It is a very sad state of affairs, but it is almost always the kids who "pay" for the parents' inability to, well, parent. You cannot always protect other people's children from this sad fact of life, and if you try to, you will be a doormat for other people.


Looking at the situation of your pack this particular year (given that you are rescuing a failing pack), it is reasonable to go to your DE and explain the situation. If you can neither retrieve the inventory nor collect the money, ask your DE to help find a way out. DE's have the ability to solve popcorn woes and don't take "no" for an answer. Put it this way to your DE: "We're reviving this pack and making you (DE) look good (by keeping units alive, which is a major measuring stick by which DE's keep their jobs). Now we need help."


For future years, make sure you are very clear that parents are responsible for the inventory they sign out. But also, come up with a set plan in case people refuse to pay. One year, my son sold some Christmas wreaths to a community business man who reneged and then vanished. We were stuck holding a bill for quite a bit of money. My son (who was 7 at the time) learned an important business lesson - don't trust people who won't put their money where their mouth is - but it stinks to think that people would defraud small children like that. We made a point of letting people in the community know about this business owner's behavior though, and luckily the (local) business that supplied the wreaths helped us out. In future years, the pack insisted that every order pay up front for anything we sold.


The long and short of it - plan for how you'll handle this in the future, but tell your DE you need help dealing with it right now.


Good luck.



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Years ago we had a similar situation. Ultimately, we just walked away. Hounding people for money like this is tough on volunteers. I'd let your COR or Institutional Head know what's up. It's their money. And the bottom line would be for your chartered organization to take the parents to small claims court. Even if the CO is willing, is that really the direction you want to go?


I would do a little research: Who has the popcorn? Did the Scouts deliver the popcorn and now can't collect? Did the customer pre-pay and then something happen to the popcorn? I would be concerned if the buyer of the popcorn got stiffed.


What is the families' attitudes? Are they concerned and trying to solve the problems or are they just blowing you off.


You don't say much about the two families' situations. If the money or popcorn is lost, do they have the ability to reimburse the pack out of their pockets? That would make a difference how I approached the situation.


I would tend to agree with your wife that I would not boot the boys for this. But I could change my mind if I thought the parents weren't taking it seriously.

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Keep in mind though, you will have to do something!


If the parents aren't coming off with the $$ and no popcorn either - ANd if the scouts keep going like normal...then what's the motive for the parents?


Know what i mean? If you just let it go, you will have to decide how many times you let it go as it will hapen again.


If the two families in question are under hard times, try to work with them about maybe a payment schedual - but again, you still need that money or popcorn, or else the next time somebody has financial issues, it could happen again without a second thought!

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Talk to the families. Find out the exact story.


If they still have the popcorn, and can't get the customer to accept delivery and pay, I would ask for them to return the popcorn to you. Once you have the popcorn you can put it up for sale at the next Pack meeting, or even take it to work and sell it there. Set up a mini booth sale.


If the problem is that the money is simply gone, the families need to be made perfectly aware that they are responsible for paying the Pack back. If the family does not have the abilty to pay for it in a lump sum, work with them and put together a payment plan.


If the families refuse to pay at all, you could start charging them for everything there son gets. Including craft supplies and awards. No payment, a hearty handshake, but no award. Just a baggie with a note stating what he has compleated.


Be aware that you will most likely loose the Scouts, and the money, if the familiy refuses to pay.


If you have a good relation with your Charter Organization, I would definately contact them about this. They own your Pack and it is ultimately THEIR money. Perhaps a request for action might carry more weight when given by the head of your Charter Org, or your Charter Org Representative.


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We've had one family do this 3 years in a row. They end up paying, but not until they get their tax money. Our assumption is they use the money they collect for Christmas or what ever and then wait to pay when they get their income tax refund. We usually send a registered letter. We also refuse to give popcorn prizes until all the $ has been turned in. Unfortunately for the scout they don't attend anything until they pay, which puts him behind.

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well your choices are simple.


1. Ignore it and write it off. (not really fair to other scouts)


2. Get the CO's permission to file a small claim action. In most states with the CO's permission you can go to court on the CO's behalf, you don't need an attorney to do this.


3. Get CO's permission and then go to the police, file a criminal complaint, have them arrested.


The local GSUSA council is quite tough when it comes to cookie money. They have filed several claims against leaders/parents who do not turn in cookie money in my court and in 100% of the time they have prevailed.


Its important that you keep good records and have signatures for the popcorn. We are seeing more and more inquires for this type of thing as the economy sours.

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If the Pack has a Pack Committee?

They are the people who need to take this on.

Reading what was posted, it kinda seems to me that Family 1, seem to be between a rock and a hard place. Someone has taken delivery of the popcorn and not paid them. I think given a little time they will do the right thing.

Sadly I don't think that is the case with family 2.

While I'm not in favor of trying to make an example of people, Ed is right and after the committee sends them an official letter requesting payment, which lets them know that if they don't pay what is owed the Pack will have no choice but to hand this over to a JP or a debt collector.

I'm a very nice person, but I never ever make idle threats and I keep my promises.


Having someone who is not a youth leader deal with this also means that the youth leaders are not really involved. In fact in my view it is better if they are not involved.

While the parents might have made a mess of things, the Cub Scouts have done nothing wrong, kicking them out or suspending them seems unfair to me. Den Leaders are charged with delivering the program not kicking kids out for whatever sins their parents might have committed.

Chances are that the Pack is going to lose one family. But it is better if the family decides to quit than what I see as unfairly removing a kid who is blameless.


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I agree pretty much with most of what has been written here. Unfortunately no matter what the situation is in regards to why they haven't turned in the money they are still responsible for paying. You should never deliver popcorn to a customer without getting payment at the same time! If that is what these families have done then this is a hard way to learn that lesson but they need to pay up!


If you have a copy of their order forms(and you should) someone needs to call these customers to find out if their popcorn has even been delivered. How terrible if they have paid the families but have no popcorn to show for it...or if they are waiting for their popcorn delivery and never get it(paid for or not). That cast a bad light on Cub Scouts in general and those people will be hesitant to order in the future from other Scouts.


My sons went door to door this year in our neighborhood selling popcorn and at school. We had one person move away and one leave the school so we were left paying for their popcorn but it was our responsibility to either pay for it or return it to the pack. We chose for our children to get credit for the popcorn sold.


If they won't return the popcorn or pay then it is just plain stealing and someone higher up than you needs to deal with it. Talk with the COR immediately and keep all paper records of any communication you have with them over this matter!


Sorry you are having to deal with this!

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  • 2 weeks later...

I've had people order popcorn and not pay. I just got to buy extra popcorn that year :) I've also had people in our pack damage popcorn. A case got backed over accidentally instead of being loaded in a car or their younger kid ripped open a pack and ate some. In all cases the family had to pay for the popcorn. If they don't agree with this let them know that selling popcorn was not mandatory it was THEIR choice and they need to accept responsibility. Our pack would not be able to afford to cover for them. I would offer a payment plan to repay the pack.

Something to keep in mind for next year. Our pack requires a postdated check for the full amount of popcorn checked out. It's dated so the check can be cashed about 2 weeks before the popcorn money is due to our council. If someone did not pay for their popcorn, the check would be taken to the bank and the remainder after crediting any money turned in and taking out money due would be reimbursed to the family with a pack check. We have never had to cash a single check. It gives everyone extra incentive to pay on time and get their canceled check back. If someone had insufficient funds in their account when the check was cashed then that would not only be a cub scout problem, but also a legal problem for them. So that's an extra incentive to turn money in on time.

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I can understand where the idea of the post dated check is coming from, but I still find it a little sad. And if it had been my son's pack's policy, he would have sold no popcorn. We, as a family, simply couldn't have taken the risk that he'd get stiffed by people and we'd end up personally footing that bill. As it was, my son sold over $1000 of popcorn in for 3 years in a row as a cub, and personally accounted for nearly half the popcorn the whole pack sold, in one of those years.


Different strokes for different folks, I guess, but that approach would have turned us away from selling anything.



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