Can a club be held accountable for invoices the university didn't tell them about?

Discussion in 'Growing and Managing a Business' started by jastan10, Mar 28, 2016.

  1. jastan10

    jastan10
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    I am the treasurer of the news paper club at my university in New York State. We are given a budget by the university's Student Senate which rules over all of the school's clubs. We regularly send papers to be printed at a print shop in the town next over. The cost for these papers varies based on how big the paper is and how much of it is in color. We printed seven editions of our paper throughout the year and received two invoices.
    As the treasurer of a club, I was informed that the Business Office (they hold the accounts of all clubs so all invoices go through them) will send any invoices our club receives to the club's treasurer and president to approve. They need two people to confirm that an invoice is legitimate. Since I only received requests to approve two invoices for printing seven editions, I assumed that the method of billing for the print company was to keep a running tab and to send us bills at regular intervals. Each of these bills was for about 550 dollars and we started the year with a budget of more than 3000 dollars in our account. Nothing to be worried about, right?.
    I was recently informed that our club is one thousand dollars in debt. Apparently we had seven invoices billed to our account. Two of these were sent to Student Senate for approval (They don't know what we spend our money on). Three were not sent to anybody for approval.
    It seems obvious after the fact that there would be one invoice per printed edition, but I only had the two invoices to work off of. I received no other training besides how to use Senate's budget forms. Student Senate paid our debts, but now they are holding us accountable. Whatever debt we don't fund-raise this year will be carried over to our budget for next year which will be minuscule because we were so 'irresponsible' this year. I understand this is not the type of question usually asked on this website, but I don't know what to do. Can they hold us accountable for bills the Business Office didn't inform us about?
     
  2. CorporateViking

    CorporateViking
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    I apologize in advance for your hardship. Long story short, Yes they can though there is an important caveat.

    Often Agencies, will have some sort of retainer or will continue to attempt to do work without approval. Or they will talk to someone on the phone and begin doing work without a request to begin. Now, you might be thinking how it's a garbage practice and I would agree with you. Often you can dispute the claim by going to your legal team, which might be an excellent opportunity to make use of your University's resources and if they offer law degree's, their professor.

    First is to activate damage control and request copies of all of the Invoices to which they say you are due. Do so under authority as the treasurer. Make sure that these Invoices give a detailed account of what it is they allegedly did for you. They may have done unauthorized work or you might be paying a monthly fee for something else. If they did unauthorized work, you can ask who authorized it and just tell them you're not going to pay them for something that wasn't authorized.

    As you are a student some people will try to take advantage of you and attempt to frighten you with the Legality. Make sure you record everything. If they threaten you record it. If they try to bully you, record it. Take all of that information to legal team and show how someone is attempting to Threaten and Bully students into paying for work that was never requested or completed (after all, how could they mark work as complete that you never approved, therefor never could have reached Finality).

    This isn't the best age for people who appear to be taking advantage of others.

    After you've reviewed why you allegedly owe money, please post again as I am very interested in this situation.
     
  3. jastan10

    jastan10
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    I should have been more active as a Treasurer. I have come to terms with the fact that it is mostly my fault. I will make sure it won't happen again on my watch. I should have asked the one student who was on the E-Board last semester or the print company itself how much it costs to print an edition. The university's fiscal controls for clubs are still a mess. I wouldn't have made the mistake I did if I had received all of the invoices in a timely manner, but it is still my fault.
    They have not threatened any kind of punitive or legal action. Apparently clubs go into debt all the time. Our situation is unique simply because so much went wrong. We are trying to raise money by selling bumper stickers. We will likely only receive a maximum of $100. The rest of the debt will simply roll over to next year. Budget Hearings are this week. We will see how much we get.
     
    #3 jastan10, Apr 12, 2016
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2016

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