APA Cancels Pacific Division Meeting


The Board of Officers of the American Philosophical Association (APA) have decided, in light of health concerns regarding the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), to cancel the association’s upcoming Pacific Division Meeting, scheduled to take place in San Francisco from April 8th through April 11th. 

There may, however, be some attempts postpone or otherwise salvage some of the meeting’s sessions, and the APA has created an online forum by which those who were to attend the meeting can discuss work that was to be presented. Registration fees will be (mostly) refunded.

In a statement released this afternoon, Amy Ferrer, Executive Director of the APA writes:

As indicated in a notice circulated on March 9, the APA leadership has been closely monitoring developments related to the global outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19) and engaged in ongoing, detailed discussions with our conference venue, attorneys, and others about whether and how to move forward with the upcoming APA Pacific Division meeting, planned to take place April 8–11 at the Westin St. Francis in San Francisco, CA.

Our participants’ health and safety are paramount, and directives from public health authorities in the City of San Francisco and State of California are increasingly recommending that, to curtail the spread of the virus, large public events be cancelled or postponed. We are heeding that advice. The 2020 APA Pacific Division meeting has been cancelled.

The cancelation of a meeting is a last resort. The APA deeply values the time and effort that the program committee and meeting participants put in to make the meetings professionally, intellectually, and socially stimulating, and it is a great loss to have to cancel a meeting that so many have worked so hard on. We are especially grateful to the members of the Pacific Division program committee and its chair, Elizabeth Brake, for their tireless work putting together a truly excellent and exciting program.

Though the meeting is cancelled, Ms. Ferrer said that the APA will be looking into possibly holding some of the sessions another time, and possibly via “other means,” (possibly online). Some group sessions may end up proceeding:

The APA leadership and staff will work over the coming days and weeks to determine to what extent sessions planned for the 2020 Pacific Division meeting can be postponed, rescheduled, or held via other means. The program chair, program committee, and executive committee of the Pacific Division will make every effort to create opportunities for participants in the 2020 divisional program to present at future APA meetings. There is a possibility of postponing the 2020 Pacific Division meeting to later this year, and the organizers of all three 2021 APA divisional meetings have indicated an openness to including some sessions planned for the 2020 Pacific Division meeting on their programs. We will provide more details when they are available.

We invite affiliated groups to work directly with their participants to consider whether their sessions should be postponed, cancelled, or converted to another medium. The Pacific Division will continue to provide affiliated groups with available meeting space but will not be able to provide more space than originally planned for the 2021 meeting.

The APA was not able to move the whole conference online, Ms. Ferrer said, but they have created an online forum for those who would have been attending to discuss their work:

The APA does not have the software or hardware infrastructure for virtual conference hosting nor, especially in the context of canceling a meeting, the ability to invest in virtual conference infrastructure. However, we encourage participants and affiliated groups to make use of their own online resources to engage with colleagues on the work and topics they planned to present at the 2020 Pacific Division meeting. To facilitate this, we have created a community on APA Connect, the APA’s online member community, where participants can share and discuss their papers and presentations that were to be presented in San Francisco.

Those who registered for the conference will be getting most of their money back, she says:

We will be offering meeting registration refunds, less a 15% processing fee. To request a registration refund, complete this form. Please be aware that each refund is processed individually by APA staff, who are also handling other issues related to the cancelation of the meeting, so it may take some time to receive your refund. We appreciate your patience. Sponsors and exhibitors will have a few options; APA staff will be in touch with further details.

The cancellation for the conference is costly to the APA, she notes:

The financial fallout from this meeting will be significant—in the hundreds of thousands of dollars for the APA itself, as well as losses to individual participants for non-refundable travel. The APA deeply regrets these financial impacts and encourages those who were planning to attend to reach out to their travel vendors about any policies or procedures they have put in place to assist those with reservations impacted by COVID-19. We also strongly recommend that colleges and universities reimburse non-refundable travel expenses their employees and students have incurred related to their planned attendance at the APA Pacific Division meeting.

To help offset the APA’s financial losses related to the meeting’s cancelation, we ask those who are in a position to do so to consider donating their prepaid registration fees to the APA. We are happy to provide a donation receipt for tax purposes to those who wish to do so. You may indicate that you wish to receive a donation receipt rather than a refund when completing this form.

Though the whole meeting is cancelled, Ms. Ferrer says that “all participants are responsible for canceling their own hotel reservations. Your reservation confirmation email contains information about how to cancel, and you can call the Westin St. Francis at (415) 397-7000 for assistance.”

You can read the whole statement here.

Prospective attendees had expressed concerns about the meeting and the uncertainty regarding whether it would be cancelled (see, for example, the comments on this post).

The next divisional meeting of the APA is the Eastern, scheduled to take place in New York City in January, 2021.

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Puzzled
Puzzled
11 months ago

Am I the only one who is puzzled by the 15% processing fee? I understand that the cancellation is costly for the APA, but I still don’t see why those who registered shouldn’t get all of their money back, down to the last penny. Airlines also need to cancel a lot of flights now, and it costs them a lot, but if *they* cancel they certainly don’t get to keep even a little bit of my money.Report

Canceled grad
Canceled grad
Reply to  Puzzled
11 months ago

My airline kept *all* of my money. Sure, I get a “voucher” to spend on a future flight, but I highly doubt that I’ll be getting 100% value on that voucher, given my past experience with airlines.

And, probably more importantly, every airline makes billions of dollars of revenue every year while the APA is a non-profit organization with limited ability to make up present-day shortfalls with future earnings. Given the costs that they’ve already accrued and probably can’t fully cancel themselves (and the fact that much of the work of setting up and then canceling the meetings was done by volunteers rather than employees getting paid to make sure that they cancel in the most cost-effective manner possible), a 15% processing fee seems pretty reasonable. Report

Puzzled
Puzzled
Reply to  Canceled grad
11 months ago

Did the airline cancel your flight or you had to cancel it? If it’s the airline that cancelled then it’s surprising and non-standard for them to keep your money.

I disagree completely about the relevance of APA being non-profit. As David Wallace mentions below, the registration fee was for a service, not charity. If the service isn’t provided, no basis remains for the fee, even 15% of the fee.

I’m also not a for-profit company. If I get some funding before the APA, I should also pay that back, even though I too had costs associated with the cancellation. It’s not the APA’s fault that the meeting had to be cancelled. But sometimes what’s not your fault is still your problem, and it’s not acceptable to shift some of it to others.Report

Craig
Craig
Reply to  Puzzled
11 months ago

But you did get a lot of the service you paid for. You don’t pay just for attending. You pay for the arranging. You pay for the refereeing. You pay for someone to be in charge of making decisions like this.

Moreover, you paid under a standard, American contract-law regime. I’m not an expert about these things, but it is not clear to me that the APA owes any refunds under the circumstances, legally. If that’s right, then the APA is being charitable and kind by giving out any refunds, partial or not.Report

Justin Kalef
Justin Kalef
Reply to  Craig
11 months ago

Hi, Craig. I don’t know the details here, but I’m curious:

– Do the paid employees of the APA do all the refereeing?
– Do the paid employees of the APA figure out which hotels to book and otherwise make all the necessary arrangements?

My impression had been that most of this was done by philosophers who volunteer their time and service.

Maybe I’m wrong and all the people I think are volunteers are paid for their work out of conference fees. But if A pays B to attend a conference, and the conference is then cancelled, I don’t think the fact that C and D volunteered to referee papers for the conference. has any bearing on whether A should get a refund.Report

Puzzled
Puzzled
Reply to  Craig
11 months ago

“But you did get a lot of the service you paid for. You don’t pay just for attending. You pay for the arranging. You pay for the refereeing. You pay for someone to be in charge of making decisions like this.”

But the provision of these services lacks any use without the conference actually happening. This is like ordering a custom-made suit, which is being made but then gets destroyed by the seller’s angry employee. Sure, money and labor were spent on designing and creating the suit, but for me who paid for the service, none of this is relevant at all. In the end, I didn’t get my suit, and I didn’t even get any partial value: I paid for nothing, and I’m justified in demanding my money (all of it) back.

I’m not familiar with the details of US contract law, but I have a hard time imagining any normal legal regime in which my payment for a service isn’t conditional on the provision of said service.

I’m sorry about hammering so much on what is in the end only a very little amount of money (per person), but as a matter of principle I find the practice completely outrageous. Unjustified and clearly excessive “processing fees” are to be expected from shady offshore travel agencies, but we should demand better from the country’s largest academic organization in our profession.Report

The Original Puzzled
The Original Puzzled
Reply to  Puzzled
11 months ago

Also, if 15% of the money had been spent on refereeing and booking costs, then why wouldn’t the APA have said that? Those aren’t processing expenses. The answer seems simple: they didn’t spend the money on those things at all, and they’re just trying to hold on to what they took from people on the pretext that it cost $15-$30 per person to process the fees. Sounds like nonsense to me.Report

David Wallace
David Wallace
Reply to  Puzzled
11 months ago

You’re not the only one. The registration fee was paid for something which is not now being supplied. Maybe there’s a moral case that the APA can charge a processing fee, but I’d be amazed if there’s a legal case.

(This is abstract curiosity on my part: I wasn’t going anyway.)Report

Jon Light
Jon Light
Reply to  David Wallace
11 months ago

How would the APA otherwise discharge/recoup sunk costs already absorbed by the cancelation? I figure the processing charge is necessary for it to make budget, and doubt that it has the cash reserves to do so otherwise. (Sure it’d be great if it all came back, but just not sure that’s really so simple.)Report

The Original Puzzled
The Original Puzzled
Reply to  Jon Light
11 months ago

Well, what’s the cause of massive increase in membership and conference fees over the last few years? It correlates with an extensive rise in partisan social justice projects that don’t reflect many members who are nonetheless trapped funding them.

Before the APA takes a penny from fees paid for a conference nobody got to attend, let’s have a very good look at its budget and see whether we can’t scale back on some of the projects and salaries for social justice activists that shouldn’t have been covered by us to begin with. It’s high time for that anyway, and it would help the APA look less like scam artists. No matter how much money we give these people, they continue to ask for more and more, but they spend on their wokester movements like there’s no tomorrow. And now they want to keep 15% from everyone for this vague ‘processing fee’? What exactly are these ‘processing’ costs? What’s being processed, and why can’t it be done more cheaply? Moreover, they’re now trying to guilt trip people into making a donation of the conference fee to them.

It’s high time we started holding these people accountable. If they want their ‘processing fees’, let them show us why they can’t trim the fat anywhere else and explain how these transactions cost so much to process.

There isn’t much to lose here. The APA does less and less of value now that we have alternative job posting sites. It just charges more and more for things we don’t need.Report

Kenny Easwaran
Reply to  The Original Puzzled
11 months ago

I haven’t tracked APA membership and registration fees – do you have some simple place I can look to see documentation of the increases you have mentioned? My recollection is that membership fees are charged on a self-reported sliding scale, though I haven’t seen how that scale might have changed over recent years.Report

The Original Puzzled
The Original Puzzled
Reply to  Kenny Easwaran
11 months ago

I wish such a thing were available, Kenny, but the APA doesn’t seem to make that bit of history easy to find. When I started attending about 15 years ago, conference fees were well under $100, and membership was also relatively cheap. It all spiked after it switched from an organization run by philosophers to an organization directed by a non-philosopher whose background was in social justice activism. But I don’t think I have any old receipts with the exact numbers.Report

Craig
Craig
Reply to  The Original Puzzled
11 months ago

It looks like the APA Pacific cost $200 in 2006. With inflation that would be $256 today.

https://web.archive.org/web/20060826153837/http://www.apa.udel.edu/apa/index.html

https://www.usinflationcalculator.com

I get that you’re annoyed that you might not get all of your refund back, and I get that you’re annoyed that the APA engages in projects you don’t like. (I don’t like the Central, for what it is worth.)

But I suspect that registration fees are reasonably low compared both to prior years and to other, similar fields and I suspect that a substantial refund is a not-unreasonable resolution given the sui generis circumstances.Report

AD
AD
Reply to  The Original Puzzled
11 months ago

@Craig: The American Economic Association is over a hundred dollars cheaper.Report

David Wallace
David Wallace
Reply to  Jon Light
11 months ago

“ How would the APA otherwise discharge/recoup sunk costs already absorbed by the cancelation? ”

It probably couldn’t. It sucks to be taking payment for a service, use part of that payment, and then be unable to provide the service through no fault of your own. But “it’s not our fault” is not normally legitimate grounds not to refund the purchasers of that service. (Bankruptcy is usually the only legitimate grounds, at least as I understand it.)

Fault is not the same thing as responsibility.Report

Prof L
Prof L
Reply to  Jon Light
11 months ago

The APA has millions (4-6, somewhere in there). I’m not sure how much of that is “cash” vs earmarked/invested but I don’t doubt that they’ll weather this.

Most people are dealing with financial insecurity as the economy slows/stops and incomes are suspended or lost. It’s pretty ballsy for the APA to ask for donations at this time, and to pocket a portion of people’s registration fees—the APA as an organization is flush with cash. To pass off hardship onto its members in a time of general hardship is bizarrely tone-deaf. Report

Craig
Craig
11 months ago

Strike that, I misread my own darn link. That’s embarrassing. I’ll see if I can find better data.Report

Craig
Craig
Reply to  Craig
11 months ago
Justin Kalef
Justin Kalef
11 months ago

Very interesting. The APA 2019 Pacific Division advance registration rates are still up (https://www.apaonline.org/page/2019P_RegInfo), so we can do a direct comparison with Craig’s 2006 data and see how much things changed at some point over those 13 years. I remember the change coming very abruptly on or slightly after 2012, but others may have clear data on the matter.

In 2006, the conference rate for Student APA members was $10. That’s $12.68 in 2019 dollars. But the Student APA member rate in 2019 was $40. That’s over three times what students were charged 13 years before.

In 2006, the conference rate for a non-student APA member was $50, or $63.41 in 2019 dollars. But in 2019, it was $125. That’s more than double what it was.

Even more extreme, in 2006 the rate for a non-APA member was $60. ($76.09 in 2019 dollars). In 2019, it was $240. That’s an increase of over $150, even if we adjust the old amount for inflation. Put another way, non-members today are paying 317% of what the amount was 13 years earlier.

To avoid getting soaked for an extra $150+, attendees now need to purchase a membership that, just like the attendance fee, skyrocketed over the past decade. And yet that membership no longer confers the advantages it once did, like exclusive access to crucial job market information in the Jobs for Philosophers publications.

Perhaps all these enormous fee hikes have a good explanation. Maybe some new services the APA provides are vastly greater than anything conference attendees and members got back in 2006. At the very least, though, these are the sorts of numbers that should raise eyebrows, and it would be good to hear just what these amazing extra services are. If nobody can identify anything new worth that much more money, then I don’t think it’s unreasonable to wonder whether these ‘processing fees’ for the cancelled Pacific APA should be at least partly dealt with by reigning in some of the spending on whatever the APA is doing now. Again, maybe the spending is worth it — I don’t know — but it seems reasonable that people are at least asking for more information on this.

By the way, I haven’t gone to an APA conference in years now and wasn’t planning on going to this one, so I have no vested interest either way on this issue.
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Prof L
Prof L
Reply to  Justin Kalef
11 months ago

Perhaps we can collectively say “not worth it” and host conferences in our university spaces, and generally let this central organization fade into obscurity. I’m not sure what services the APA provides. I also find the membership and conference fees outrageous. I will never again attend an APA meeting or be a member—why would I? I find conferences and events hosted at universities to be better run, cheaper, more productive, and friendlier. I think the APA has outlived its usefulness and overplayed its hand here. Report

Tim
Tim
11 months ago

Does anyone know the legal issues around this well enough to say whether the APA has a legal right to charge a 15% processing fee when giving refunds for a service that they did not provide?Report

JS
JS
11 months ago

The assumption underlying many comments is that w/r/t conferences, the APA is a seller and its members are buyers. I’m not sure that’s right (morally speaking – I defer to others on the law). Another take would be that members use the APA for logistical functions that require centralization, e.g. organizing profession-wide conferences. In this sense, the APA is like someone who collects payment in advance for a group outing. If the outing is cancelled due to illness, that person is not on the hook for money already spent (e.g. for renting a campsite). Rather, all the participants take an equal or proportional hit. Alternatively, if a university hired an independent company to organize the conference that didn’t go forward, that company – as an arm’s length seller, not a professional organization – would be on the hook for any fees paid.
I guess the question is whether the APA closer to the group collector in the first case, or the company in the second.

Note: One side effect of the corona virus may be an uptick in recreational philosophizing, now that most classes have been cancelled. I’ve commented twice on philosophy blogs in the last two days, not at all in the 2 years prior.

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Justin Kalef
Justin Kalef
Reply to  JS
11 months ago

Interesting, J.S. But I don’t yet see how this squares with what we’ve been told by the APA.

Quoting from Amy Ferrer’s announcement: “We will be offering meeting registration refunds, less a 15% processing fee. To request a registration refund, complete this form. Please be aware that each refund is processed individually by APA staff, who are also handling other issues related to the cancelation of the meeting, so it may take some time to receive your refund.”

The fact that she refers to the 15% deduction as a processing fee, and then goes on to discuss the processing work, makes clear that the deduction is not for the costs already incurred by the conference planners. It is simply a fee paid to refund the money.

As has been mentioned elsewhere in this thread already (at least, it squares with what I seem to remember reading elsewhere), the APA has a surplus of millions of dollars. Presumably, it is part of that that surplus that was used to cover whatever the original costs have been. There was no mention in the announcement of the 15% being used to cover those costs.

I think the questions to ask, then, are:

1. Is it right for the APA to charge those who paid in advance for the conference for the cost of processing the refunds? Or should that just be considered part of the daily work of the APA staff? I think it’s reasonable that the job of sending out the refunds might cause delays in other work the APA staff are involved with, and it would also seem reasonable for the APA to use surplus funds to hire on some temporary staff members to speed up the process, or to reduce other annual budget items if there were no surplus. But it’s another thing to say that those who registered in advance will have to have their refund reduced by a processing fee.

2. If it is right for the APA to charge advance registrants for fees associated with the cost of a refund, is the *amount* that’s being charged a reasonable one? Given that the registration fees were $40, $125, and $240, those 15% processing fees come to
$6 for students;
$18.75 for non-student APA members; and
$36 for non-APA members.

Does this sound reasonable? Are we meant to believe that refunding the fee of someone who didn’t wish to pay the hefty membership fee but signed up for the conference in advance will cost the APA $36 (how many minutes would it take an APA staffer to process that refund, and at what hourly wage?), and also that it will require only $18.75 worth of staff labor to process a refund for an APA member? How many minutes, really, does it take a professional, trained, experienced APA staff member to process a refund? And if they for some reason can’t do it very quickly, or are being paid a very high hourly wage, should that full cost really be borne by those who registered for the conference, or should the APA instead be forced to find more efficient ways of processing refunds?
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Prof L
Prof L
Reply to  JS
11 months ago

Okay, let’s go with this analogy. The APA is like an envelope, entrusted to some person or people (let’s call this group A), to collect money for events. They say, let’s collect money for event. Some members of the organization contribute (group B). Some intend on going to E but they have not yet contributed (group C). Others don’t intend on going (group D). E is cancelled, and some of that money in the envelope has been spent.

You might say, why make group A foot the bill, in refunding the money to group B? Why not make group B (and maybe C and D) foot the bill?

But of course, group A is not footing the bill, since the money comes from the excess in the envelope, which is the result of buildup of A overcharging for events in the past (again, the APA has millions of dollars, and will be fine). So A is not forced to provide money (from their personal funds)—rather, by offering full refunds, A is simply not penalizing B for their early contribution to the envelope.

Otherwise, if A says to B, “look, we are cancelling the event, and yeah, we’ve got tons of money in this envelope, but this event has cost us, we don’t like the envelope getting thinner, so we’re passing this deficit onto YOU”—well, I think we might rightly say that A is being an asshole and should refund B out of the excess in the envelope, even if it means that the envelope is a little thinner at the end of the day.
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Justin Kalef
Justin Kalef
Reply to  Prof L
11 months ago

But since the APA’s statement says that 15% of each registration fee will be retained to cover *processing* fees, and *not* to cover expenses incurred by the APA, it’s actually more akin to the envelope-holder saying, “The thing you paid for isn’t happening, and I’ll give you your money back, but I’m keeping 15% for the service of taking your money back out of the envelope and handing it to you.”Report

Rex 2
Rex 2
11 months ago

There should be a sliding scale for processing fees, if they’re charged at all for the lower salary ranges and grad students.Report

Jamie Dreier
Jamie Dreier
11 months ago

I don’t know anything about the Processing Fee, which must have been decided by the Pacific Division. The APA is really a kind of federation of the three Divisions (although there is a lot more coordination and pooling now than there has been in the past) so the national board isn’t ordinarily involved in that sort of thing. The registration fees for meetings have until now been set by each Division, but we are now starting to coordinate them (which I think is a good idea).

The APA does have an endowment of several million dollars, which is invested, with TIAA. It tends to have about $350,000 in cash, although that varies over the course of the year. There is most definitely not a surplus of millions of dollars; that’s completely wrong.

Members who are really interested in the budget don’t have to speculate or make up numbers–they can go look for themselves! The APA budget is included in Executive Board Minutes, which are available on the APA web site.
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Justin Kalef
Justin Kalef
Reply to  Jamie Dreier
11 months ago

Thanks, Jamie.

However, I just went to the APA web site and typed in “Executive Board Minutes”, and no results came up. The budget doesn’t appear anywhere obvious. Do you by any chance have a web address for us?

I did find this audited financial statement at least, on the website: https://cdn.ymaws.com/www.apaonline.org/resource/collection/D631A61E-EE13-466F-A57C-144F11F96602/American_Philosophical_FINAL.pdf

According to that statement from June 2018, the APA’s total assets were then $5,677,071, so the figure some of us remembered of 4-6 million dollars doesn’t seem to be just a made up number. About three and a half million dollars of that total were in the form of equity securities. Still, though only a minority of the APA’s assets are easily accessible, I think the point stands that the APA doesn’t seem to be on the verge of bankruptcy as a result of the cancelled Pacific meeting; and anyway, that seems to be a moot point because Amy Ferrer’s announcement explained the withholding of 15% from each refund as a processing fee rather than a fee to help the APA with expenses it incurred preparing for the now-cancelled meeting.
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Tim
Tim
Reply to  Jamie Dreier
11 months ago

Dear Jamie,

You seem to be in a better position than most of us to clarify the sort of issues that concern many of us – would you be able to find out and clarify the reasoning behind the 15% processing fee – how it was determined, whether it is legal, etc? Or at least ask the APA clarify this issue with its affected members?Report

Jamie Dreier
Jamie Dreier
Reply to  Tim
11 months ago

Tim, I don’t think I’m in a particularly good position to find out if it is legal! You should ask a lawyer. But sure, I’ll ask someone why there’s a 15% processing fee.

Justin, the $4-6 million would be fine as a statement about the investment. Any claim in the millions of dollars for an APA surplus is wildly off. (The APA sometimes does run a small surplus, and sometimes a small deficit – I’m sure that’s pretty standard for non-profits.)

Here’s the page with the Board minutes:

https://tinyurl.com/apaminutes

It’s linked from the Board of Officers page.
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Prof L
Prof L
Reply to  Jamie Dreier
11 months ago

I don’t think anyone claimed that the APA has an annual budget surplus of millions, just that the APA has $4-6 million. I didn’t make that number up, just looked at the financial statements and made a conservative estimate, since the statements are over a year old. I’m sure that running a deficit this year won’t be devastating for the organization. But this is only relevant if the justification for the “processing fee” is in fact to offset the budget shortfall caused by the meeting cancellation—which, as JK is pointing out, it’s not.

Thank you for the minutes!Report

Jamie Dreier
Jamie Dreier
Reply to  Prof L
11 months ago

Prof L,
Oh, well, Justin Kalef said the APA had a surplus of millions [March 14, 2020 at 11:38 am].
But I think it’s a good thing that members take an interest in the budget, and actually go look at it! I didn’t intend to be criticizing you at all.Report

Justin Kalef
Justin Kalef
Reply to  Jamie Dreier
11 months ago

I did say that someone else had given that number, Jamie, and that it squared with what I seemed to remember seeing elsewhere. I agree with you now that that number represents the APA’s assets, and not a surplus.

However, that has always been a side point, and (again) the real question, as you might agree, Jamie, is whether it’s reasonable for the APA to charge 15% — which for non-member registrations means $36 per person — as a processing fee.

As you clarify, the APA claims that that amount is meant to represent the labor and time involved in making the refunds and also the fees apparently charged by the credit card processor.

The big question is whether this processing fee is reasonable. I for one have a hard time imagining that the credit card processor could be charging anything close to that amount of money, or that the time it would take for a professional staffer to process the refunds would make that a reasonable fee. But perhaps others have useful information explaining why that amount is fair. However, nobody has provided such information or considerations yet.Report

Justin Kalef
Justin Kalef
Reply to  Jamie Dreier
11 months ago

Thanks, Jamie. Now I understand why I can’t find them, and why I can’t read this copy: I’m no longer a member, and only members can view the minutes.

But again, probably a moot point, since the justification for retaining 15% of all registration fees is the expense of processing the refunds, which seems awfully high.

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Jamie Dreier
Jamie Dreier
Reply to  Tim
11 months ago

Tim,
Here’s the answer (hm, I can’t remember whether blockquote works in these comments…):

“Note: The 15% processing fee covers the staff time required to manually process each registration refund, plus the fees charged to the APA by its credit card processor.”

That note has now been added to the Refund page.

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Mark van Roojen
Mark van Roojen
Reply to  Jamie Dreier
11 months ago

And, FWIW, a good bit of that endowment is designated for specific purposes so it could not be spent to make up for losses due to meeting cancellations, though some of it probably could and in fact may well be so-spent since this cancellation still costs the APA and especially its Pacific Division a good bit of money. I’m not defending the fee itself – I don’t know enough about the decision to charge it to do that. – But the total APA budget is probably not very relevant to that decision for many reasons except perhaps in a negative way – it is small relative to what the organization needs over the longer term. (Other reasons that make the total endowment less relevent include that the APA is not just a sponsor of conferences, the APA has different divisions which don’t all have the same resources or claim on the total endowment, that memberships and conference proceedings don’t generally cover total yearly operating and overall program costs without interest on the endowment (iirc), and no doubt some things I don’t know.)
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Justin Kalef
Justin Kalef
Reply to  Mark van Roojen
11 months ago

According to p.19 the document I *do* have access to as a non-member, which was mentioned upthread,

“The Association has agreements with various hotels for preferred room rates for conferences through April 2021. If the Association cancels any of these agreements within the next year, the maximum liquidating damages the Association would be obliged to pay is $1,478,925.”

However,

“The Association has obtained insurance policies to cover a portion of these potential damages, leaving the Association with a net maximum liability of $187,463 related to these contracts.”

Again, not clearly relevant to the processing fee question, but it might be interesting for those considering how the most extensive conference cancellations could affect the overall assets of the APA.Report