FAQs Purchasing FAQs
Purchasing FAQs
1. How to add a supplier into the Supplier database?
2. How to add a new Ship to Location in BEN?
3. How do I resend a Purchase Order to a supplier?
4. How do I cancel a Purchase Order?
5. What is the procedure to revise a Purchase Order?
6. Can Purchase Orders in my queue be rerouted to someone else when I go on vacation?
7. What steps should be completed to return goods to the supplier?
8. Where can I find the BEN purchasing system-related answers?
9. How to acquire a tax exempt certificate?
10. How does a supplier join the Penn Marketplace?
11. How does a supplier join the Supplier Showcase?
12. How do I add special instructions to the supplier or an EDI purchase order?
13. What is the exception process for after the fact transactions?
14. How do I procure the services of an Independent Service Provider

1. How to add a supplier into the Supplier database?

Only Penn faculty and staff are responsible for initiating requests to add a new supplier to the BEN Buys Purchasing System Supplier Database. To add a domestic supplier, you can complete the Request to “Add a New BEN Buys Supplier (US)” form. For foreign suppliers please use “Add a New BEN Buys Supplier (Foreign)” form.

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2. How to add a new Ship to Location in BEN?

To request a new ship to location to be entered into BEN, complete the “Request for a New BEN Buys Ship-to-Location” form.

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3. How do I resend a Purchase Order to a supplier?

To resend a duplicate copy of the Purchase Order to a supplier, complete the Resend Purchase Order Request Form. You will receive an email confirmation from Purchasing Services advising you that the duplicate copy of your purchase order has been transmitted successfully.

Purchasing Services will process the request upon receipt within one business day.

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4. How do I cancel a Purchase Order?

The authorized procedures for canceling a purchase order and terminating the legal obligation to the supplier are listed below.

Prior to canceling the purchase order or any portion thereof, the supplier must be contacted by the ordering department to determine if the product(s) has been shipped by the supplier to the University.

  • If the product(s) has not been shipped, the purchaser must inform the supplier that the product(s) is not required, that they are not to ship the product(s), and that a formal purchase order cancellation will be issued and transmitted to the supplier. It is recommended that details related to the call to the supplier be documented in the "Notes" section of the purchase order (reason for cancellation, date of call, supplier contact name, etc.) for future reference. To cancel a purchase order in BEN visit http://www.finance.upenn.edu/benknows/browse_topics/purchase_order_definitions/cancel_line.shtml.
  • If the product(s) has been shipped, cancellation is not allowed. In this case, resolution must be addressed via a Return Goods Authorization (RGA) and supplier credit memo. The invoice for the shipment must be paid and the supplier credit will offset the invoice that was issued upon shipment of the product(s) by the supplier.
  • If the supplier receives purchase orders via EDI (Electronic Data Interchange), cancellation is not allowed. In all cases, resolution must be addressed via a Return Goods Authorization (RGA) and supplier credit memo. The invoice for the shipment must be paid and the supplier credit will offset the invoice that was issued upon shipment of the product(s) by the supplier. Because the order entry and processing is immediate on the supplier side when using EDI, there is no viable way to prevent a shipment from being queued. Additionally, many of our EDI Suppliers ship overnight and the speed with which the order filled and packaged for shipment makes them virtually impossible to intercept for cancellation. In rare instances it may be appropriate to cancel an EDI purchase order, but this should only be done with the permission of the supplier for such reasons as discontinuation of product.

All returns are subject to the supplier's formal return policy and may be subject to a nominal restocking charge. The supplier may refuse to issue a RGA and credit if the product(s) ordered is a special order or non-stock product(s).

It is the responsibility of the purchaser to request the RGA, arrange for the pickup or shipment of product(s) back to the supplier, and track the credit to ensure receipt of the credit in Accounts Payable to offset the supplier invoice.

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5. What is the procedure to revise a Purchase Order?

After an approved purchase order is transmitted to the supplier, there may be a legitimate business reason to cancel part of or the entire order with the supplier. The authorized procedures to process a Purchase Order / Cancel Order and terminate the legal obligation to the supplier are listed below. A canceled PO may be issued for one or more lines of an approved purchase order or the entire order.

If the product(s) has not been shipped, the requisitioner must inform the supplier that the product(s) is not required, that they are not to ship the product(s), and that a formal purchase order change order (POCO) will be issued and transmitted to the supplier. It is recommended that the call to the supplier be documented (date of call and supplier contact name & title) for future reference.

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6. Can Purchase Orders in my queue be rerouted to someone else when I go on vacation?

You can request to set a vacation rule in BEN BUYS to have your purchase orders routed to a delegate during your absence.  Complete the “Add a Temporary Vacation Rule to Delegate Purchase Orders and/or Requisition Notifications” form.

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7. What steps should be completed to return goods to a supplier?

If the supplier ships non-conforming goods (e.g., too many goods, the wrong goods, or faulty goods), the requisitioner should immediately notify the supplier. If the goods delivered fail to conform to the purchase order, the requisitioner has three options:

  • Reject the whole order,
  • Accept the whole order, and
  • Accept any ordered unit(s) and reject the rest.

To properly document the return, the requisitioner must complete the following steps:

  1. Identify and document the non-conforming goods.
  2. Notify the supplier of the problem and your decision to accept or reject in whole or in part the non-conforming goods.
  3. Work with the supplier to establish a remedy, a credit and a re-invoice if necessary and/or the shipment of replacement conforming goods at no charge. Be sure to request the following information to return the non-conforming goods:
    • Request a formal Return Authorization Number and required documentation (many suppliers require a Return Authorization Number on returned goods so that they can inventory and track the problem).
    • Correct return-to address and attention-to name
    • Return the goods to the supplier via eShip@Penn shipping solution or as indicated by supplier UPS or common carrier
    • Verify how the supplier will handle the credit and re-invoicing if it is part of the remedy.

NOTE:

If the requisitioner decides to voluntarily return the goods, the requisitioner should immediately notify the supplier. This decision may be based on one of the following circumstance:

  • the Penn department or requisitioner made a purchase order error,
  • the goods are no longer needed, or
  • the goods were over-ordered.

To make arrangements to return the goods to the supplier, the requisitioner must:

  1. Inform the supplier and ask if they will take the merchandise back.
  2. Ask the supplier whether there will be a restocking fee for the return.
  3. Be sure to request the following information:
    • Return Authorization Number and required documentation (many suppliers require a Return Authorization Number on returned goods so that they can inventory and track the problem).
    • Correct return-to address and attention-to name.
    • Return the goods to the supplier via UPS or common carrier.

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8. Where can I find the BEN purchasing system-related answers?

You should access BEN Knows at http://www.finance.upenn.edu/benknows/ for any BEN system-related questions and issues.

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9. How to acquire a tax exempt certificate?

The University of Pennsylvania is exempt from Pennsylvania sales tax for most purchases directly related to the education and research mission of the University. The University's Pennsylvania sales tax number is 75-532-357.

Purchases not directly related to this mission are subject to Pennsylvania sales tax. It is the obligation of the supplier to collect sales tax. Please make requests for a Pennsylvania Tax Exemption Certificate using our online form. The Pennsylvania Tax Exemption Certificate will be sent directly to the supplier.

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10. How does a supplier join the Penn Marketplace?

If you are a current BEN BUYS approved supplier or a supplier interested in establishing a new business relationship with Penn, participation in the Penn Marketplace provides suppliers, both large and small, with an equal opportunity to reach all the buying organizations on Penn’s campus.

Suppliers interested in an opportunity to discuss this option for participation in the Penn Marketplace can contact This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

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11. How does a supplier join the Supplier Showcase?

The Supplier Showcase, is an internal online marketing tool to promote corporate news, new products, and Penn specific promotions to faculty and staff. The Supplier Showcase, just one click away from the BEN Buys Requisition Homepage and Purchasing Services website, is a significant competitive advantage for those suppliers and manufacturers that choose to participate in this offering. Visitors to each supplier site are tracked and are available to each supplier to help ensure the effectiveness of each supplier's internal marketing initiatives.

Suppliers and manufacturers interested in participating in the Supplier Showcase should complete the showcase order form.

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12. How do I add special instructions to a supplier or on an EDI purchase order?

When creating a BEN Buys purchase requisition for one of the EDI suppliers listed above, you may have a need to include special instructions to the supplier. To do so, create a separate purchase order line by entering a non-catalog request detailing the special instructions to the supplier. This special “comments” line is identified to the system by leaving the Supplier Item Number empty and starting the Item Description with “ZZZ”; the rest of the Item Description field is then available for any order instructions you wish to send. Please do not use this process to request a "rush order" as the extra line for notes to the supplier will cause a slight delay in the supplier processing the order.

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13. What is the exception process for After-the-Fact Transactions?

An "After-the-Fact" purchase transaction is a purchase made without prior issuance of an approved purchase order or use of a Purchasing Credit Card. School or Center senior financial officers will be advised of employees in their area who place orders for products and/or services without prior approval of a University purchase order or Purchasing Credit Card, and in turn, create financial liability and risk for the institution and bypass the University’s encumbrance requirement.

While after-the-fact purchases should be a rare exception, when such instances occur, the transaction should be captured using a PO, with limited exceptions as noted below. Please note the following tips for managing after-the-fact purchases:

  • In establishing POs for after-the-fact orders, provide a clear description within the PO line that indicates that the goods or services have already been delivered or provided to prevent duplicate shipments.
  • Communicate with suppliers to ensure that they are not invoicing prematurely. Notify Purchasing Services of suppliers that do not comply.

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14. How do I procure the services of an Independent Service Provider?

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