CSSS faces 'almost a year' delay in getting AMS credit card, forcing members to bear expenses personally

An AMS constituency said delays in receiving a credit card from the society have resulted in costs and financial hardship for its executives.

The Computer Science Student Society (CSSS) first applied for a credit card in fall 2017 to support its expanding event costs and to keep a stock of purchasable snacks available for its hundreds of student members. But the society never got back to them, meaning CSSS executives had to foot the bill — and associated interest — themselves.

“We have whoever is going to stock us with supplies footing the entire bill on their credit card until they got reimbursed,” said CSSS VP Financial Ray Zhang. “... it was enough so that they had to take other measures to avoid paying interest.”

AMS clubs and constituencies that don’t have an approved credit card from the society have to get items reimbursed with an on-paper application.

AMS VP Finance Kuol Akuechbeny said the process usually takes around three to five business days, but Zhang said getting money back can take as much as three weeks for the CSSS.

“It was enough so that [the VP Internal] had to take other measures to avoid paying interest,” said Zhang.

Akeuchbeny said he was “very surprised” that the CSSS had not received a card.

Zhang said the constituency faced repeated frustrations while applying, noting that two AMS financial coordinators resigned without much notice to clubs during their application process — meaning it effectively had to be restarted twice.

He added the new AMS website’s links to credit card application forms were originally broken.

“It’s really frustrating,” said Zhang. “It’s not sustainable and not something we want to put on people who really want to help us as an executive.”

Akuechbeny said delays in reimbursement are usually due to incomplete applications — something his office can’t control.

“If something is missing, we put it back in the folder and nd that takes more time so that they can fix it,” stressed Akuechbeny.

Lines of credit

The AMS’ credit card program for clubs was introduced by then-VP Finance Louis Retief as a measure that would improve club financial efficiency “by tenfold.”

The cards were meant to provide financial flexibility to clubs with budgets of over $10,000 and high membership, particularly student constituencies. A year and a half later, just over 20 clubs and constituencies are actually using the credit cards.

During his campaign in March 2018, Akuechbeny made a complete shift from paper to plastic reimbursement a highlight of his campaign. But the overall number of credit cards issued to clubs, constituencies and AMS staff this year is “just over 40.”

“We have only 49 applications over the summer and out of them, we approved 40 of them,” said Akuechbeny.

Akuechbeny attributed the relatively low number of cards issued to a lack of interest and a slate of novice club treasurers. Because the credit cards are linked to the personal information of each treasurer, they can’t simply be passed down when those treasurers retire.

“We have almost hundred per cent turnover of treasurers,” stressed Akuechbeny. “So every time we have new treasurers, we don’t have a reason to review the applications of last year.”

Akuechbeny said he plans to look into the CSSS’ delay “right away.”

“A constituency of that size … I would expect them to absolutely have a credit card,” he said