Cash for Cookies

With one exception, I have a problem with turning our children into door-to-door vendors. There’s something about putting them on a par with Fuller Brush and Encyclopedia salesmen—not to mention the Jehovah Witnesses—that feels wrong.

Over the years my kids have been asked to sell everything from magazine subscriptions and wrapping paper to holiday poinsettia plants. I wouldn’t let them sell the subscriptions; however, with the poinsettias, we had a choice of donating a mandatory $200 to the soccer club instead of having them go door-to-door, so my principles took a backseat. We sent them only to trusted houses in the neighborhood and after four years in this club, built up a clientele.

The other exception I make when it comes to selling things door-to-door is for the Girl Scouts. I’ve ordered Girl Scout cookies from my front doorstep for as many years as I can remember. There’s something irresistible about not only the cookies themselves, but also about the polite little girl in uniform doing her job for her troop and her organization.

Well, now even that experience has been tainted.

Yesterday, the sweetest little girl you can imagine rang the bell. Accompanied by her daddy and her big brother, she asked us if we were interested in buying her cookies. My daughters flew to the front door to put in their bids for Lemon Chalet Cremes, Thin Mints and Tagalongs. (I could order a case of Tagalongs for this household and it would never be enough.) We soon learned that our little neighborhood Girl Scout only had one box of Tagalongs available, because as it turns out, the Girl Scouts are no longer taking orders. We could only buy the boxes she had on the wagon parked next to her. And there was more:

“We’re only accepting cash for cookies this year,” said the daddy. “It’s because last year the Girl Scouts took in over $200,000 in bad checks.”

Two-HUNDRED-thousand? That’s a horrifyingly large number. I remember reading last year that Girl Scout cookie sales were down by some 20%, and the economy was to blame. But to couple that with $200,000 in losses? I haven’t been able to verify this number, so I can’t say for certain it’s fact; however, obviously something big enough and bad enough caused the organization to drastically change its cookie sale technique.

I purchased four boxes and came up with the cash, including three dollars worth of quarters. If I could have placed an order and ultimately written a check, this little Girl Scout would have made far more money from our craving for Tagalongs.

I realize times are tough and as a business owner, I understand what it means to deal with the occasional bounced check. In fact, I’m dealing with a sizable one right now, and it’s taking far too much time and causing a lot of frustration. It galls me no end that someone has the nerve to pay for a product with fake money and then act surprised and appalled when the case gets filed first with the police and then with the district attorney. Pay attention: Writing a bad check is an illegal act.


I wonder if the Girl Scouts are going to take additional steps to teach their scouts the hard realities of modern day business. They’ve set the bar for successful door-to-door sales. Now they need to teach the girls about dealing with the criminals who make their cookies crumble. Perhaps it won’t be too long before they add a BOUNCED check badge to their lineup.

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