Thursday, March 31, 2005

Girl Scout Cookies Are OVER!

I made the bank deposits today-- the Girl Scout Cookie sale is over!! It's been an interesting experience, to say the least. After what I went through with the ordering of the cookies, I thought the madness would be over, but unfortunately it wasn't.

The second training meeting was to tell us how to do the paperwork for the money. We were given a packet that contained our turn-in envelope, deposit slips, and directions for filling out the deposit slips. Except that my packet was the only one that didn't contain any deposit slips whatsoever. I don't know why-- our troop isn't a new troop-- but for some reason there were no deposit slips for our troop. I was told they would mail me some deposit slips as soon as they got them.

When I got the deposit slips in the mail, they had a different troop number on them, which had been crossed out and our troop number hand-written in. Soon after that, I received a phone call asking me not to use these deposit slips, as they might result in our money being credited to the troop whose number was originally on them. I was told that the correct slips would come in the mail soon. When no slips were forthcoming, I called and the lady was going to check on them. They told her that I should use those deposit slips and they would just be on the lookout for our troop's money in the other account in case anything went wrong. By that time, though, the cookie sale was nearly over and I was about to receive the last of the money, so I didn't make any deposits until after I received everyone's money.

Then the girls came to turn in their money. One of the girls' guardians had endorsed all the checks for me and provided me with an accounting sheet detailing the checks and cash. Another girl turned in checks that amounted to $28 more than she owed for the cookies I'd given her. I went over her order sheet and matched each and every check to an order that had been delivered, so I accepted the checks and gave her $28 in cash. The girl's sister is in our sister troop, and I think the orders must have been filled with cookies from her sister's allotment. This was the same family that called me in the middle of the cookie sale claiming they'd been shorted four boxes, but thanks to my cookie inventory and careful record keeping, we were able to verify that she had not ordered the correct amount of boxes from me. It happens all the time that people add up their order incorrectly-- I did it myself last year-- and a good Cookie Manager will have the paperwork to back it up.

I recorded all my receipts in my spreadsheet and set to work endorsing all the checks. I got them all counted up and sorted by amount. And then I re-read the directions, and discovered to my horror that I would be required to submit the checks, not in one big pile, but in a pile for each girl with an itemized list of the checks by value. I spent the better part of a day trying to uncollate the pile of over a hundred checks. It helped that I had the check totals for each girl, and that there were only five girls, and that one of the girls' guardians had handwritten "For Deposit Only" on the back of all her checks. Some of the checks I could place with a particular girl because I recognized the name on the check. The rest I did with a little mathematics.

I cannot for the life of me figure out why they think they need this information. The teller at the bank promptly removed all the paper clips I'd put on each pile, and stuck the checks in one pile. I asked her about it and she said the bank doesn't need the checks broken down by girl, only a list of checks. That must mean that Council or the Service Unit thinks they need the more detailed information; I don't know why they'd insist we take it to the bank as well. But it doesn't provide any useful information for them-- it would only tell them what each girl's total of checks was. Cookie sales per girl are tracked via the T-1 form that we use to order cookies; that was made abundantly clear to me by the ladies who decided I needed an extra case of cookies so that my girls would get more activity credits. Customer names and addresses are not supposed to be on the list of checks I'm required to submit, so the breakdown by girl can't be for creating a mailing list. The money girls owe for their cookies is tracked via the receipts we give the girls' parents, and if there are any discrepancies I am contractually obligated to fill them from my own funds, so they have no need to check my addition. The only reason we even need a breakdown of checks vs. cash is so that we can double-check our figures before we make the deposit. The breakdowns by girl are submitted after the deposits. So unless Council has some burning statistical need to know the amount of checks per girl, this information is utterly useless, and collecting it is a waste of our Service Unit Cookie Manager's time.

I think, though, that the real reason why we are required to turn in this information is that the people who are running this are excessively anal and have not thought this through with any degree of clarity. At the meeting where they were instructing us, they insisted that we had to use adding machines to make these breakdowns by girl, and that only adding machine tapes would be acceptable. When we protested that we don't have adding machines but we do have computer spreadsheets, their response was to offer to lend us their adding machines. Finally we talked them into allowing us to submit them as printouts from spreadsheets. This is the sort of reaction you'd expect from people who do it their way just because they can, and care less about getting the information they need and more about the way in which it's presented.

At any rate, it's over and all I have to do now is turn in my envelope with my receipt for the deposit and the stupid breakdowns by girl. Thanks to my good management, we ended up within 50 cents of our correct amount. The 50 cents was 50 cents extra, so we came out on top. The discrepancy was in Princess' cash, and I think the extra 50 cents might have been swept into her envelope when it spilled and I put it all back in.

I think that after all they've put me through I've earned the right to be a bit of a smart-@$$, so when I hand in my receipts I'm also going to hand in a copy of the spreadsheet I created to track all this. It does cookie inventory, tracks Gift of Caring and boothing cookies, and automatically adjusts the amount of money a girl owes as cookies are issued and returned-- basically everything a Cookie Manager might need. I don't usually bludgeon people over the head with my intelligence, but I just want to see the look on her face when I hand it to her, proof that I can be an excellent and effective cookie manager without doing it her way.