The day our Director transferred $100,000 instead of $1,000…and how you can avoid the same mistake.
Before you think, no – that can’t be right! Think again. Yes these mistakes can, and do happen (even to the best of us). Major mistakes can happen in the blink of an eye – whether from a momentary lapse in concentration or simple administrative error. The good news is there are steps you can take to avoid such potentially costly and timely mistakes.
So let’s backtrack to that fateful day and we can all learn a valuable lesson from an experience that Jane would rather forget!
Setting the scene…
Ever the worker bee, Jane set to processing mid month payments on the 15th April. Several BPAY creditors required payment, including a strata levy for $1,000. In a minor, (yet major) error, Jane entered $100,000 when processing the payment at the bank.
With no limit on BPAY transfers and enough funds in the account, BPAY happily accepted the large transfer. As we all know, BPAY transfers are instant, so the moment that submit button is pressed, the money is gone from your account to another. It is important here to note, banks cannot refund BPAY transfers made in error – that can only be done by the recipient of the funds.
So we see many issues in the above scenario. Let’s move on.
Jane continued on her merry way and the recipient no doubt delighted in their new hefty bank balance. Only the next day did our damsel in distress realise the error of her ways. A freak out of epic proportions followed, with a call to 000 for a pending heart attack.
Once normal breathing rhythm was established, Jane contacted the recipient of the funds who refused to pay the funds back (yes this also does unfortunately happen). Many phone calls, emails and discussions with managers followed, which spanned over 10 days. 10 DAYS. No doubt you can imagine the vibe in the office that week. After over a week of stress and additional unwanted hours, the funds were finally refunded and the trust account back to being balanced.
How did this happen?
Mistakes can happen despite having seemingly no other distractions around you. For Jane, it came down to 4 simple mistakes (ah the value of hindsight):
• Jane failed her own checking process before accepting payment.
• She used commas on keyboard when it wasn’t necessary to do so.
• Trust accounting on Easter Saturday – fail!
• There were no print outs in front of her and she was working off the screen.
What should Jane have done?
• Don’t make transfers from screen copies
Always use print outs – even when it seems unnecessary.
• Always have two persons approve transfers above $1,000
Two sets of eyes are better than one and will pick up on the extra zeros!
• Limit the amount of BPAY transfers at the bank
This may become irritating when you do need to make those large transfers – but trust us from experience, this minor inconvenience is worth it for the avoidance of a much bigger problem!
• Don’t attempt trust accounting on Easter Saturday
Just take your days off – your mind (and sanity) deserve them!
No matter how long you’ve been doing your job or how efficient you think you may be at your everyday tasks – the simplest tasks can turn into the biggest errors the moment you lapse in concentration and focus on the tasks at hand. So next Easter, don’t attempt to pay any creditors – just kick back and eat your body weight in chocolate bunnies.