It would really cheer me up a lot if some of you would share stories of your worst accounting woes, especially if some of your experiences are worse than those currently afflicting my departmental colleagues and me.
Get competitive. Send in your worst accounting nightmare story. It doesn't even have to be true, though I suspect there is no need for fiction.
Here are 2 contributions to a group-accounting-woe-wallow:
1. A colleague of mine submitted a large number of receipts for several professional trips. All the expenses were on his personal credit card(s) and added up to quite a lot (thousands) because he had also paid upfront for the travel of his graduate students and a postdoc. The reimbursement was delayed and delayed and delayed for months.
Finally he found out why: He had not indicated how many people were in each hotel room. This is not part of the instructions. This is not a line on the forms. This is not something that ever had to be listed before. This is one of those Mystery Traps that accountants set for the unwary. In this case, the travel was within the US, where it doesn't matter if there are 1, 2, or 4 people in a hotel room; the price is the same: SO WHY DO THE ACCOUNTANTS CARE? And if they do care, why not just ask for the information that is holding up the reimbursement?
2. I recently had to approve a form that lists the people who are receiving salary from a certain grant. In fact, in the time frame indicated on the form, I paid the salaries of one graduate student, one undergraduate, and one postdoc from this grant. The form, however, which contains an automatically generated list of people paid, using information in the university's personnel database, indicated that I had hired no one and was paying no one. I asked the accountants about this. Even though all of these people have been paid in the time frame of the form I had to approve, because the effort reporting time frame of the university does not match the reporting time frame of the form, the people whose salaries are being paid by the grant don't show up on the form that is supposed to report how many people received salary from the grant. Apparently this problem can't be fixed and I have to approve a form that is in error. If I don't approve the form so that it can go on its merry way up the approval chain, the consequences for me and my research group are not good. If I refuse to sign the form because it has incorrect information on it, the consequences for me and my research group are not good.
Hence my plea for Your Accounting Nightmares.
*** NOTE: Owing to unexpected circumstances, I will have limited internet access for a few days and will probably only moderate comments once/day. There might also be an interruption in posts until regular internet access resumes. ***
2 years ago