Negative Balances / Credits / Refunds

There are several scenarios that may result in a patron account showing a negative balance or credit. PINES policy states that patrons are not allowed to carry a credit balance on their account, so accounts that show negative balances should be reviewed regularly and balanced.

 

Obtaining a List of Patrons with Negative Balances

Open the Evergreen Staff Client and go to: Admin > Local Administration > Patrons with Negative Balances

This screen may take some time to load. It will default to the library location that your workstation is registered to. After it loads, you may select a different library location.

You may right-click on any resulting patron and click Retrieve Patron to open that patron's record.

 

Investigating a Negative Balance

  1. Open the patron's account in the Evergreen Staff Client and click on Bills.
  2. Review the bills to determine the cause of the negative balance.
  3. Right-click on a line item and View Full Details to see detailed information about that bill number. This shows each charge (including voided charges) and each payment that was applied to that bill number. If an item has been both voided and forgiven, or voided and paid for, or forgiven and paid for, you should see evidence of it on this screen.
  4. You may also wish to look at the history (from the main Bills screen, click the History button). From here you may view all Transactions or limit to all Payments for any specified time period.

 

Correcting a Negative Balance Caused by a Bill Being Forgiven and Voided:

See Also: Walkthrough - Negative balance caused by a bill being forgiven and voided

See Also: Walkthrough - Correcting problems caused by an incorrect attempt to fix a negative balance

If you see that charges were voided under the Bills section, but also paid or forgiven under the Payments section, then that would explain how the bill number ended up with a credit that should not be there. To correct this, add a bill to that bill number for the amount of the incorrect credit:

  1. From the patron's account, open the Bills screen.
  2. Right-click on a listed bill and click View Full Details to confirm that the problem is that a bill was both voided and forgiven.
  3. Click Close Window to return to the main Bills screen.
  4. Right-click on the bill and click Add Billing.
  5. The system will prompt you to confirm that you wish to add a bill to that bill number - click Yes.
  6. The Bill Patron Wizard will open in a new screen.
  7. Choose Miscellaneous as the Billing Type.
  8. Enter the Amount needed to balance the bill (if the balance owed showed -2.60, then enter 2.60).
  9. Enter a detailed Note explaining the added bill (for example, "Bill #12345 - Fines were forgiven and voided in error. Adding bill for $2.60 to balance the account. TMcCanna 6/25/2014")
  10. Click Submit This Bill.
  11. Click the Refresh button to refresh the main Bills screen to see the balanced account - this is sometimes cached and you may need to close the patron account and reopen it to see the balanced account.

 

Correcting a Negative Balance Caused by a Lost Item Being Paid for and then Found: 

PINES policy states that if a lost item is paid for in full, but then found and returned by the patron within six months (180 days) of payment, then the owning library should refund the payment minus any overdue fees that had been automatically voided when the item was marked lost, and minus any processing fees which had been applied.

  1. From the main Bills screen on the patron's account, right-click on the bill that is incorrectly showing a negative balance.
  2. Click View Full Details to confirm that the problem is that an item was paid for (the payment information should be in the Payments section) and then voided (in the Bills section, Voided will be 'Yes' and the Note will say 'VOIDED FOR LOST ITEM RETURNED' on the charge for Lost Materials).
  3. Review the payment date and the Voided date to confirm that the item was returned within 6 months (180 days) of payment. If the item was returned after that date, then no refund is due to the patron. If it was within that 6 months, then the patron is due the amount they paid minus any overdue charges that had been voided, minus any processing fee. Make a note of how much money is actually owed to the patron for a refund.
  4. Click Close Window to return to the main Bills screen.
  5. Confirm that the amount showing as owed to the patron matches what you have calculated in your investigation. If the displayed number is incorrect due to other billing issues or errors, correct each of them until the amount shown is correct.
  6. From the Bills screen, click Check All Refunds.
  7. Check the Annotate Payment box.
  8. Change Receipt Options to print at least 3 copies of the receipt.
  9. Click Apply Payment.
  10. Enter annotation (for example, "Refund check request for $9.99 sent to business office on 6/25/2014 TMcCanna").
  11. Click OK.
  12. Different library systems have different procedures for processing refunds, but most will have a form to fill out that goes to their business office to request that a check be cut and sent to the patron. Give one copy of the receipt to the patron indicating the amount of the refund they should expect to receive. Attach one copy of the receipt to your check request form to send to your library's business office. Put one copy of the receipt in your cash drawer for your records.
  13. Click the Refresh button to refresh the main Bills screen to see the balanced account - this is sometimes cached and you may need to close the patron account and reopen it to see the balanced account.

 

Sources of Confusion

There are a few options you might encounter in the Evergreen Staff Client that do not work the way you might expect them to for PINES, so we recommend that you do not use them.

  • If you right-click on a bill and click Refund, it will add the dollar amount to the Payment Pending column, but does not complete the Refund. You would still need to click Apply Payment to complete the process. For PINES libraries doing refunds, it is usually better to click Check All Refunds and then Apply Payment.
  • If you right-click on a bill and click Add Billing, one of the Billing Types is Refund: Lost Item Returned. If you use this, it may appear to balance the account (unless there are other fines and fees on the account), but the transactions will not show up under Bill History. For PINES libraries doing refunds, it is usually better to click Check All Refunds and then Apply Payment.

 

Help Desk

If you are unable to identify the cause of the negative balance or unable to correct it, please submit a detailed Help Desk ticket.