Payments Made While Item Overdue Should be Adjusted If Item Becomes Lost/Long Overdue

Bug #1914470 reported by John Amundson
42
This bug affects 8 people
Affects Status Importance Assigned to Milestone
Evergreen
Confirmed
Undecided
Unassigned

Bug Description

Tested in 3.2.10, likely affects all (recent?) releases of Evergreen.

When an item is overdue and becomes Lost or Long Overdue, the overdue fines are generally reversed in our system. This works well except when a payment, (such as cash, forgive, etc), is applied to the transaction while the item is still overdue. When this occurs, the "payment" is deducted from the amount owed for the replacement charge.

This has been problematic for some of our libraries because overdue fines and lost charges go to separate accounts. For others, it's a problem simply because they are not receiving the full replacement cost.

This behavior does not seem to be improved in our situation when investigating and adjusting the plethora of existing negative balance, reverse overdue, etc settings that already exist.

**It would be nice if the system could automatically adjust payments made while an item is overdue so that they are not deducted from what is owed when the item becomes lost/long overdue**

THOUGHTS ON IMPLEMENTATION
This may need to be a new library setting since the current behavior may be preferable to some.

I can also see this getting complicated when other factors are considered, such as grocery bills added to an existing transaction that are also paid while the item is overdue. These payments should not be adjusted. In other words, possible behavior might be to have the system reverse the payment up to but never exceeding the total amount of overdues accrued on the transaction. That way any manual additions are not affected.

Another possibility is to change how overdues are adjusted. Perhaps only adjust net-positive overdue charges.
-example: $2.50 in overdues are accrued. $2.00 payment is made. The item becomes LOST, and only the remaining $0.50 in overdues are reversed.

SOME BACKGROUND
In our system, checked out items become LOST at 28 days overdue, and we do not use the Long Overdue setting. When an item becomes LOST, settings are in place so that the overdue fines are reversed, and only the replacement charge of the item is due.

Here is an example of how this works:
- An item accrues $2.00 in overdue fines. Then the item becomes lost, which reverses the overdue fines and adds a $25.00 replacement cost. The patron owes a total of $25.00 for the transaction.

This works well most of the time. However, with the pandemic and many libraries forgiving fines, we are running into a situation more often. If an item's overdue fines are paid for or forgiven while an item is still checked out and overdue, and the item becomes lost, the "payment" made against the overdue is applied to the lost charge.

Here's an example of this:
- An item accrues $2.00 in overdue fines. While overdue, the fines are forgiven. The item becomes lost, which reverses the overdue fines and adds a $25.00 replacement cost. The $2.00 "payment" is not reversed, and the patron now only owes $23.00 for the bill.

This has been problematic for some of our libraries because overdue fines and lost charges go to separate accounts. For others, it's a problem simply because they are not receiving the full replacement cost.

After some discussion, we investigated adjusting our library settings so that overdue fines are not adjusted when an item becomes lost. So, when an item becomes lost, its overdue fines are still owed.

Here's a couple examples of how this works:
- An item accrues $2.00 in overdue fees and then becomes lost. The item's replacement cost of $25.00 is charged. The patron owes a total of $27.00 for the transaction.
- The item's $2.00 in fines are forgiven while the time is still checked out. The item becomes lost. Only the $25.00 replacement cost is owed for the transaction.

The issue with this behavior is that it doesn't solve the underlying problem, and libraries still need to be diligent to ensure fines/lost charges are collected appropriately.

Revision history for this message
Michele Morgan (mmorgan) wrote :

Marking Confirmed.

We use Long Overdue processing along with the library setting "Void Overdue Fines When Items are Marked Long-Overdue". We also find that overdue fines that have already been paid or forgiven prior to the item being marked Long Overdue, will also be adjusted, effectively reducing the replacement cost billed to the patron.

An example from our system:

Item is overdue:

$7.10 owed in overdue fines
$5.00 is forgiven

Item is marked Long Overdue:

$7.10 in overdue fines is adjusted
replacement billing assessed is $50.00

Patron's balance owed:

$45.00 (should be $50.00)

Given that there is no current functionality in Evergreen to adjust *payments*, and only *billings* are adjusted, John's alternate suggestion from the bug description would likely be more doable:

"Another possibility is to change how overdues are adjusted. Perhaps only adjust net-positive overdue charges.
-example: $2.50 in overdues are accrued. $2.00 payment is made. The item becomes LOST, and only the remaining $0.50 in overdues are reversed."

Changed in evergreen:
status: New → Confirmed
tags: added: circ-billing
removed: billing
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