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EagleInKY

Popcorn & bounced checks

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We have an annual problem with our council and how they handle the popcorn financial transaction. We have to pay for our entire unit's purchase right around the first of the year. (This year it was Saturday, January 3rd). The council then cuts a check to us for the commission, which arrives a day or two later (this year, we received it in the mail on Tuesday, January 6th). The problem is that our bank always holds some of the individual payments due to them being out of state checks or having amounts totalling over $100. Thus, the money is in the account but "not available" when our check to the council check tries to clear, it bounces. The bank charges the council $20 and us $35. Fortunately, we usually get this reversed by the bank (every year but one, as I recall), but it's an all-around hassle.

 

We've tried to solve it several ways. We now take partial payments from boys all the way up to the due date (which is an additional administrative headache). We've moved the due date up a couple of days, to encourage early payment. We just haven't had any luck. With the payment coming due so soon after Christmas, we usually don't get the bulk of the deposits in until 12/27 or 28. The bank will hold them for a few days, bumping right into the council's payment time.

 

I've made a proposal to the council several times. That is to have the units only pay the net difference. For example, this year we had over $10,000 in sales and our commision was just short of $4000. We could have written a check for approximately $6,000 and all would have been well. The bank was only holding about $1000 in checks, and that would have been fine.

 

Have any of you had these problems? Do all councils follow the same procedure? I'm a big fan of popcorn sales, but this taints it every year.

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Eagle,

I agree there has to be a better way. This year, my better 1/3 was the popcorn coordinator. She filled everything out on the Trails End page. Created spread sheets for every scout - the whole enchilada. At the end, the Trails End site figured out everything, including how much was owed to council for every option the troop chose. If everything was turned in on time, then the troop would receive back that small % owed them from council. It was time consuming for my wife, but we would have had to send a check for just over what was owed the council. However, our council doesn't do it that way. My question is: does any council do it from the Trails End web site?

 

BD

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My Council only wants their part when we pay. We keep our commission out.

 

Ed Mori

1 Peter 4:10

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Our council only has us pay the net cost of the popcorn.

 

My solution to stuff like that is simply not to play the game. Tell your DE he can have $6000 now and the balance when the checks clear, nothing now and $10,000 when the checks clear, or they can have 800 $7 checks and worry about when they clear themselves.

 

Your council's popcorn people need to remember who their customers are -- YOU! They need to remember you are putting $3,000 profit in their pocket!

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If you write checks that bounce, that's no fault of the council. Seems like the easiest solution is to make your deposit, wait 1 week, then write the check to the council.

 

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Some of the suggestions to not pay until your checks clear don't really help if your commission is based upon on-time payment. In our council (also Greater Pittsburgh) units get a higher commission for paying their bill on time. If payment is made after the due date then the unit loses 2% of profits.

 

I wonder where the accountant is coming from in this council? Why is the world would they want to pay the expense of writing checks to all the units. That is real money lost. Seems stupid to me.

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FS -

 

As I said in the OP, we get as many in early as possible. But, when the deadline for payment is usually January 2nd or 3rd, it is a significant time crunch. There's this little holiday called "Christmas" and another one called "New Years Day" that gets in the way. We made deposits on Monday (Dec. 29th), Tuesday (30th) and Wednesday (31st). The check was given to the Council on Saturday (Jan 3rd). The council deposited the check on Monday, in a different bank than ours, but it tried to clear our account on Monday evening (something I didn't think was possible). The check was for a little over $10k. We had $12k in the bank, but just over $2k of it was being held until Tuesday.

 

Waiting a week means a significant cut in our commission. I assume council keeps that part. You must be a professional ;-)

 

 

Advanceon -

 

That's my point as well. Think of the extra cost. Labor to enter the checks into their software and to print them. Paper and ink for the checks. Postage to mail the check to 100's of units. It seems like a waste of my FOS donation.

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Milwaukee County Council only bills for their share and allows the units to retain their commission.

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It could be a choice of the accountants. Prior to our merger this is how the Hiawatha council did it. The Auditors interpretation of the Non profit accounting rules said it must be done this way. Those of us in the Old Seaway valley council pitched a fit over this as they sprung it on us at the last minute. After several local scouters who happened to be lawyers and accountants talked to council they changed it. They showed them how much extra time and money the council office was wasting doing it this way

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I've always heard of bank holding funds until the check clears but I've never dealt with one that actually did it to me. Maybe a conversation with a bank officer, someone higher than your branch manager is in order.

 

You might want to remind the banker that all US checks clear in two days (did you know that the Federal Reserve flies checks across the country in charter jets?). You might also point out that you might need to take your business elsewhere.

 

 

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FOG - We've tried the bank approach, but didn't get very far. Ever since all the local banks were purchased by the national ones, we've lost any ability to control/influence them. I believe we get the response "that decision is made out of Pittsburg". They only hold the out-of-state checks and the larger ones (I think over $100). And, they hold them 3 business days (our final deposit was on Wednesday (31st), so they were held Friday (2nd) and Monday (5th). The funds were available on the Tuesday. The council check, however, attempted to clear in one day.

 

Update from Council - I spoke to the DE this morning who was in charge of popcorn this year. I did not get anywhere with him. He said it was an auditors decision and there was nothing he or I could do. He said the decision was made higher up. I asked if it would do any good to send a letter to the person "higher up" and he said it wouldn't. (I pointed out that we were one of the top 2 selling units in the council for the past 2 years).

 

I told him that other councils did it this way and I got the response back that other councils were not run correctly. He even named names, but we won't go there.

 

I got very frustrated with him. I really like this guy, but he cannot see the bigger picture. This is a way for the council to save money, time and energy on them and the units. I guess it's just Council politics. It frustrates me all the time.

 

Bottom line, I told him that we were just going to put it on them from now on. We're going to bring in some 250 checks for them to deal with (counting, depositing and following up on bounces). He said that was fine.

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Ever think of NOT selling popcorn? There are other fundraisers out there that can turn a good profit! And if enough Packs/Troops in your Council do the same, maybe they will change their policy.

 

And its Pittsburgh not Pittsburg.

 

Ed Mori

1 Peter 4:10(This message has been edited by evmori)

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