Party’s over

By By Rochelle McConkie

By Rochelle McConkie

A U student was refused the ability to make a purchase at a Zurchers party supply store Oct. 21 after being told the account being accessed had been closed due to outstanding debts. The student, who refused to comment, had presented an authorized purchase order from the U, but could not access the account due to an unpaid $235 bill, which included transactions from Housing and Residential Living and the U President’s Office. The U had purchasing accounts at Zurchers stores located at 3890 W. 1830 South and 1102 E. Fort Union Blvd. The chain of stores sells discount party and wedding supplies.Bob Zurcher, owner of the Salt Lake stores confirmed that a bookkeeper from Zurchers called Betty Dyer, an administrative officer from the University Neighborhood Partners department, and was told the department would not pay the account because UNP had not made the purchases in question.The bookkeeper, Zurcher said, was told by Dyer not to let any students charge on the account and that people had been coming to Zurchers and making unauthorized purchases on the account. When talking to the bookkeeper, Dyer threatened legal action if the account had to be paid, Zurcher confirmed.Upon requests of the university and following regular policy, Zurchers put the account on hold until the bill is paid.Zurcher said that Zurchers has a standard policy that it will not charge purchases onto accounts without valid purchase orders from the university.”I’ve never run into purchase orders that are not authorized by the school–this is the first encounter,” Zurcher said.”We love the University of Utah, we love their business–and just going off what they said, we would love to charge them, but they have to have the accounts paid.”Zurcher said there is also a possibility that someone made a fraudulent charge on the account. “We have nothing against the U, it’s probably just a misunderstanding,” he said. “Either someone came in to charge and needs a purchase order or they should have paid.”Jim Parker, director of the U purchasing department, said “companies that do business with the University of Utah need to follow basic business practices–if people are going to buy from them, they need to identify who they are, otherwise anyone could come in and say they’re from the U of U. Most suppliers know they need validation from the place they’re doing business with.”Parker said that, in order to make a legitimate business transaction, it needs to be done in writing–either with a purchase order, limited purchasing check or a purchasing card.”The issue is what the company is doing to verify the order,” Parker said. “When someone sends a bill and says they need to pay the bill, the burden is on the supplier to prove that you actually made the purchase.”Upon investigation, Zurcher has decided to write off the university’s account, including the unpaid transactions, which date back to 2002 and 2003. Since then, the U has had no outstanding transactions with Zurchers. However, students still cannot access the university’s account, said John Downing of the U’s accounts payable department.

Lennie Mahler