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Online payment portal fails to charge credit cards, MCPS asks parents to make transactions a second time

By Jessica Buxbaum

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MCPS financial officers are asking those who made purchases on the Online School Payment portal Sept. 13 to Sept. 30 to re-enter their credit card information due to an error by the vendor, Online School Management Systems.

The problem arose after an OSMS employee accidentally switched the software into testing mode for an upgrade, causing the credit cards to not be charged even though the order requests went through. To compensate for the lost revenue, the vendor has since privately reimbursed the affected schools.

Though OSMS informed parents of the situations, many expressed skepticism of being asked to re-enter their credit card information.

“I got a bunch of calls from parents who were concerned about the possibility that it was a scam, asking if this was a legitimate email and something that they should be doing,” MCPS Administrator of Financial Operations Robert Reilly said.

Others may want to avoid having their credit card be charged.

“My mom put her card information back in just because it seemed legit and like the right thing to do,” junior Ethan Gilman said. “But it’s easy to imagine that people would just ignore it, because why would they voluntarily put their credit card information back in if you could potentially just not pay and still get all of the stuff you bought?”

As of Oct. 19, OSMS collected about 40 percent of the revenue lost and expects that number to rise to about 75 percent, Reilly said.

OSMS now requires that more than one employee approve switching the software to testing mode to prevent this from happening in the future.

“It wasn’t a huge burden on us, but it wasn’t at no cost because time is money and it was definitely a big burden on the parents,” Reilly said. “The vendor feels certain that it won’t happen again.”

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