Glitch delays pay for GWorld vendors

Correction appended

All GWorld vendors have gone unpaid since late August because of a software error, a university official said Saturday.

BBOne, an independent management firm paid to administer the University’s contracts with GWorld vendors, planned a software update to its system before students returned to campus. But unexpected issues postponed the completion of the update, said Ken Pimentel, the University’s managing director of the GWorld program. Vendors are usually paid every other day.

With more than 200 GWorld vendors, the University could owe vendors more than $100,000. Because an official from BBOne did not return a request for comment, the total amount owed is unknown, but Tonic Restaurant owner Jeremy Pollok reported being owed $15,000 and an owner at another restaurant said the University owed about $8,000.

Pimentel did not know exactly what the software issues were. In a memo sent to the University, BBOne said the delayed payment was a one-time issue and the payments are expected to resume this week.

“Because of a one-time, high volume of ACH errors from merchants and handful of schools, we’re currently experiencing a delay in payments to merchants and are working closely with our payment processor to resume daily merchant settlements,” the memo said. BBOne provides its services to other schools besides GW.

Pimentel said the company needed more time to roll out the new software.

“I didn’t think the upgrade went well, but that happens,” he said.

Pollok said the delay hasn’t been a huge problem for Tonic, but that it could become a bigger deal if unresolved.

“It hasn’t been a big issue for us but if it goes on much longer we will have to stop accepting GWorld,” Pollok said. “I’m guessing that other vendors have already stopped accepting GWorld.”

Mino Sarano, owner of Café Tu-o-Tu in Georgetown, said the cafe is owed roughly $1,000 and that it has been a “task” getting information from BBOne. Sarano said his last payment was August 20.

None of the 15 vendors interviewed said BBOne made the first contact informing them that payments would be delayed. The rest said neither the University nor BBOne made any attempts to contact them and explain why payments would be delayed until late last week.

“No one ever told me that I wouldn’t be getting paid,” said Robert Golfman, owner of the Bambu Sushi Bar.

Pimentel said it was BBOne’s responsibility to connect with the owners of the restaurants but acknowledged the difficulty in contacting every restaurant.

“During the Inauguration last winter, we had to contact all of our vendors… but getting ahold of the owners takes a lot of time,” Pimentel said. “It is almost impossible to get a hold of everyone.”

Sept. 15, 2009
The article originally stated the BBOne contacted Froggy Bottom Pub to say that payments would be delayed.

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