Barry thanked each group member for doing an excellent job in getting all academic holds completed within a tight (4 day) deadline. Working from a list of barred users, the group placed 175 academic holds. The work was coordinated with Student Financial Services so that students would receive a warning letter in July and August (if necessary) to remind them of their need to meet their obligation (return their books or, if lost, pay for them) to the libraries or face deregistration for the Fall semester.
The group examined the 15-page training document “Lost Item Processing—Phase 1,” prepared by Judy Gardner and posted on the RUL Staff Resources page under Access Services / Training Documentation / Billing / Lost Item Processing—Phase 1. Members found the document to be clear and helpful as it explains through screen prints and precise language a new billing enhancement. Starting July 1, 2004, a daily report will run that identifies CHECKED OUT and OVDRECALL items that became 365 days overdue (that day). The report will modify the status of these items to ASSUM_LOST, a shadowed location; create $102 lost item bills in user records; and send a Bill for Replacement notice to the user.
One area of concern for the group was the information included in the Bill for Replacement. Antoinette pointed out that the bill did not list the original due date (one-year ago), but rather only displayed the current day’s “billed date.” She thought it would be better for users to see when the books had been due. Antoinette also was concerned about the lack of a call number or item barcode on the bill. Ines said it was crucial that we look at the bill from a user’s perspective. She stressed that call numbers should be placed on the bill to help users locate the books. Ines pointed out that users often have multiple books with similar titles (particularly in the sciences) or checkouts that are part of a series. Nita asked if a library phone number would be included in the bill header to assist users. Georgina questioned if users who have long overdue books with different due dates would be confused by receiving multiple notices from the library, each one including only those books which just became 365 days overdue. Ines asked what the header on the emailed notice would say (would it say “Library Notice” or would the word “Bill” appear in the header?). Antoinette explained to the group that the “checkouts” field in the user record will display a number that counts the “inactive checkouts” (ASSUM_LOST items). Ines asked if these new procedures would change again when we receive a new version of WorkFlows in 2005. In short, the group focused exceptionally well on its task, thinking sharply, viewing issues from the user’s and staff’s perspective, and showing it is committed to making the billing enhancements successful.
Barry said he would email Chris Sterback and Judy immediately following the meeting with each question raised by the group and would get back to the group with the responses.
Chris responded to Barry’s end of the day email the following morning, answering each question with clarity and understanding. In summary, Chris consulted with Judy, took the suggestions made by the group, and by the next day was able to tweak the report to incorporate all the recommendations. The original due date will now be included on the bill as well as the call number and item number. The phone number of the library where the material was last checked out will also appear (it was going to appear all along but didn’t display on the sample bill in the training documentation because TAS was used as the home library in the test system). To gain attention, the words “Bill Notice” will appear in the email header. The only issue that currently there seems no way around is the production of multiple notices for users should they have multiple overdue due dates. This issue—and any others that may occur as the new procedures are used—will be analyzed after we work with users with these new bills for replacement. It will be key that all staff understand how to check “inactive checkouts” and be able to discuss with a user all the transactions for which the user is responsible. Billing Functional Group members are responsible for making sure that this training is done in the units.
The group thanks Chris for his close attention to the group’s concerns and his remarkable job of solving these issues so quickly through his customized reworking of the assumed lost report.
Barry reported on his follow up with Judy regarding the refund policy discussion that the group had in its April meeting. The group discussed situations it was facing where parents were responding to academic hold deregistration warnings by sending in checks or paying with credit cards directly to Delinquent Accounts. When Delinquent Accounts notified the libraries (Antoinette) of the payment, Antoinette has discovered that the students have sometimes, in the interim, returned the books. The group wanted to know if the full amount should be refunded or only the price of the books minus the processing fees ($42 per item)? Judy said that “ the statement about ‘processing charges will not be refunded’ from our Charge/Fine Schedule section on refunds was intended to cover technical services’ costs of ordering, cataloging, and processing a replacement copy. The situation we’re running into with fees paid at Delinquent Accounts and then the books subsequently being returned is a different situation. We’ve incurred no tech services processing costs. The overall cost of sending notices, billing, refunding money, etc. is a cost of doing business not a processing fee that we’ve ever charged users for. Therefore, in these situations, billing staff should refund the full amount.”
The group reviewed the goals that were suggested at the May meeting and agreed on the following goals for 2004/05: 1) Successfully implement Lost Item Processing—Phase 1 (Items 365 days overdue are modified by report to ASSUM_LOST, a shadowed location; lost item bills are created in user records; and users are sent a Bill for Replacement Notice); 2) Examine, test, and make proposals for any billing enhancements in WorkFlows 2004; 3) Create a “helpful hints” document for staff that would provide sound guidance for how to handle discussions with users regarding bills, how to annotate the discussions and share information through PUBNOTEs, and how to resolve problems. 4) Produce a “need to pay a fine or bill?” handout for users that would outline their payment options; 5) Obtain an electronic file of graduates that Systems could customize to yield a single report of BARRED users to be placed on diploma hold.
Chiaki reported on working with a user’s mother regarding a bill. Nita and Chiaki told the group that Douglass staff had created a new sorting shelf area.
Don described his work on a project cleaning up the holds file at Alexander. He’s also active in getting out claims returned follow up letters to users.
Shirley gave a favorable report on the new desks and cubicles for LSM staff.
Nita discussed a problem where a “rush recall” was placed mistakenly on a noncirculating RDS item rather than a copy level hold, causing the user to get a bill the following day.
Next Meeting: Wednesday, July 28, 2004 at 3 pm. at Kilmer.