What do you do when a Scout sells popcorn, but his parents don’t turn in the money? Scouter D.S. is facing this sticky situation and asked for advice. Our readers weigh in, below.
ESTABLISH GROUND RULES
We emphasize and repeat the following during the entire popcorn sale: “Any popcorn ordered is the responsibility of the Scout and his family to purchase once the order is placed. This includes popcorn that is purchased where a bounced check is received from the purchaser. To help your Scout, we recommend collecting all monies at the time of the order. Therefore, any and all popcorn checks will have cleared prior to popcorn distribution.”
If a popcorn check bounces, our pack will try to help the Scout by selling that popcorn at a pack site sale. However, we don’t usually advertise this to keep the amount of unsold popcorn to a minimum.
Pack Advancement Chair C.H.
We turn the names into our Scout Council office, and its attorneys take care of it.
District Popcorn Chairman P.S.
Fort Pierre, S.D.
TALK PARENT TO PARENT
We’ve had this happen a few times. We have the popcorn chairperson contact the family directly and find out the reason. Sometimes, it’s as easy as setting up a meeting point. In rare circumstances, we’ve had to make other arrangements. Once, a dad took off and left a mother and son with no money. We made arrangements for her to pay it back over time. We never involve the Scout in those meetings. They’re handled as a business transaction.
DO YOUR BEST
In four years as popcorn chairperson, I’d never encountered this until last year. A family would not return e-mails or phone calls. We knew that the family had financial problems, and we were more than willing to eat the costs. But they wouldn’t talk to us. We finally came to a decision as a committee that the Scouts could no longer participate with the pack until the debt was paid. Unfortunately, they never paid, and their Scouts missed out on advancement.
NO CHECK, NO CORN
Do not deliver their popcorn. Sell it to other units or clear it through show-and-sells. You cannot damage the unit’s finances because of a few families who are using your product to float themselves a loan. The non-delivery is between the family in question and their customers.
The challenge is that it’s too late at this point. We require that all funds be submitted at the time order sheets are turned in, which allows us to post the deposits and clear them before ordering. We also require only one check per Scout. This means that customers pay the Scout, who pays the pack.
Pack Treasurer D.E.
SETTLE FOR A SPLIT DECISION
We have had this problem twice in the past five years—once with a positive outcome and once with a not-so-positive outcome. In both cases, the boys were from single parents who needed the money to pay their personal bills. Multiple phone calls and e-mails were made offering to let them pay back the pack in installments. The first family was able to pay the pack back by recharter. With the second, we weren’t able to recover the funds. The parent would not return phone calls or e-mails. As a pack committee, we decided not to recharter the boy.
HOW DOES YOUR PACK, TROOP, OR CREW DEAL WITH THIS TYPE OF SITUATION? SHARE YOUR ADVICE BELOW.
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