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Missing popcorn money...

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You must have tame press in Pittsburgh, who are fully supportive of youth-serving movements. Around here, they go after everyone, and they work from the basis of the person complaining is right. The investigation target is universally presumed to be pond scum.


OK, enough of this. We can both hope nothing happens.

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Ed, what would you do if you ordered something from a store, paid for it, but never received it. Then, when you complained to the store, they said, sorry, nothing we can do, we wash our hands of the matter, order taker Tom Thief took your money, but never put thru your order, if you want your money back take it up with Tom Thief, and if you want the product, that you have paid for, we will be happy to have Nellie Nogood take your new order, and more money.


For me, it would not matter if the store took out a full page ad in the local paper with Tom Thief's picture, address, phone, and a full description of what he had done. I would tell everyone I saw that it was a lousy store and to never, ever, shop there. I had ordered a product - in good faith - from the store. I expected the store to make it right. They did not. That made it the store who had ripped me off, not just Tom Thief.



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What if a very unscrupulous family went on Ebay and bought a cub scout uniform. Then created an official looking order sheet for popcorn, dressed up their son and went out collecting orders and money. They have no intention of fulfilling those orders, just scamming people. Do the local Cub packs have any responsibility to honor those orders for fear of bad press?

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We still have not heard from the family, and all the popcorn that had been "ordered" by this scout/family has been sold off.


In our town there are 6 packs. So I did discuss with our DE about what to do when a customer contacts the district office..? The DE said that they would reimburse from Council funds any customer who comes in and claims to not have received their popcorn. She said that it is very rare over the years for anyone to come in, but it does happen at times.


And we do not know if they collected any money from customers or not.


I think we have learned from our mistakes...


(1) Dont take an order without and order sheet.


(2) Dont take without the money up front, unless you really know and trust the family.


This was our first year of selling popcorn, and I guess it was a learning year.(This message has been edited by westcoastscouter)

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"When the media calls you tell them the parent never turned in their order or money they have supposedly collected to the Pack. Then you give the media the name, address and phone number of the parent and tell them to contact the parent for an explanation."


Bad idea, really bad idea. If even one unproven allegation slips out, these semi-pro deadbeats may sue your rear off. Doesn't matter if you know the truth or not



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You know, this whole problem could be resolved with a simple control and I'm really quite surprised it isn't already in place.


Create an official BSA order form that has a receipt for the customer. Pressure sensitive (carbon copy) the cubbie tears off and gives to the little old lady. It has the Pack contact info on it and is proof to her she ordered and paid (if checked) for the corn. If the customer is scammed, they have proof to the pack that they paid. No tickie, no cornie.

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Fortunately, it's not a widespread enough problem that we need to come up with a new national form. And if they had a form, they would also need to publish the "G2TS" ("Guide to Trustworthy Scouting") that would have procedures specified in excruciating detail (including the "leave no trace" section, which would discuss how and when to dispose of old receipts). :)


And the new form would undoubtedly create as many unanticipated problems as it would solve. Did Johnny bring back the book of 50 receipts he was issued?


Fortunately, most scouts are trustworthy. And most popcorn consumers are also probably trustworthy. So if someone comes forward and says that they paid for $20 worth of popcorn and never got it, the best policy is to apologize, give them their $20 back, and then have the unit come up with some common-sense procedures to prevent it from happening again.

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Well...I'll say this: If this is your first year of seling popcorn, You learned a great lesson.


Now, it may not be the perfect solution, but we changed things this year ourselves after a $500 fiasco the year before last.


Parents/ scouts sell popcorn, and can submit an order for the pack to order X number of whatever flavor, but we do not order or hand out any popcorn until the parents give us the money.


If the parents trust somebody for an IOU..great! But the pack doesn't! No money, no popcorn. PERIOD



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The press here is the same as it is there John. In this case, the Pack is not the problem and if the press is made aware of this, they will find out the story is the parents if there is a story at all.




This isn't a store so your comparison is moot.

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Popcorn can be a pain, but the past few years, we made these tweaks, and had our best year last year.

1)collect the money up front

2)provide the customer with a receipt, an approx. date of delivery, and a phone #

3) deposit checks promptly

4)keep good records

5)deliver ASAP

As far as feeding scouts when they lost their return lunch money: I feed them, and turn the bill into the committee. The charge goes on the scouts account, and he pays up prior to the next campout. This way, I don't have to chase around a 13 year old for money. Should I donate it? Sometimes I do, but I have a family to raise, too, and just can't fee 28 teenagers once a month. (exaggeration here, but you get the point)

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As I understand the facts, the key mistake here was taking the order from the family without the order sheet being turned in.


Had the order sheet been turned in, the family could have been given a reasonable time to collect the popcorn, and when they failed to do it another family could have completed the sale and received credit for the sale.


The pack is exposed between the time the popcorn has been picked up and the payments received. If the family fails to make the deliveries, or fails to turn in the payments, the pack is exposed to losses.



The biggest weakness in the system is probably dealing with new families you don't know. Would it be reasonable to limit new families that join in September to a maximum sale of say $200 or so?


Requiring families to pay cash with their order to the pack presents some problems too. Do you really want someone with a packet of receipts collecting cash they then hold on to for several weeks? People posting say that works, but perhaps that's because they haven't been burned.... yet.


How about a rule that popcorn orders must be paid by check ---- no cash payments accepted? That would seem to improve the protection for everyone.


Cash is a slippery commodity. "Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil." Prohibiting cash payments might be the best way to implement that goal.


I'm planning a Cub Scout Roundtable in August on how to manage a popcorn sale effectively. I'm expecting to bring in packs that have consistantly good sales and Scouts that have notable sales (including a Cub Scout who sold the most in the council).


A segment on how to manage the financial problems and risks should probably be a part of that as well.



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>>"Requiring families to pay cash with their order to the pack presents some problems too. Do you really want someone with a packet of receipts collecting cash they then hold on to for several weeks?">"How about a rule that popcorn orders must be paid by check ---- no cash payments accepted? "

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In 7 years of popcorn sales, we've had one bad check. And unfortunately, we sat on it for a month.


The bounced check fees cost us $54.00, so we really went in the hole there. Deposit the checks ASAP.


Cash is OK in my book, as long as the money is turned in weekly at scout meetings.


We do a short but furious popcorn push to reach our goal.

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