I work for an email spammer, being required to use a corporate credit card, and more

It’s seven short answers to seven short questions. Here we go…

1. Asking for a raise when taking on much more responsibility

I currently run the kitchen for a wine bar in New York, and my boss has decided to open a wine store and have me manage it. I will be responsible for sales, wine tasting events, inventory, all daily operations, e-commerce, online marketing (Facebook, Twitter, etc), and anything else she decides I should do. She just told me that she isn’t going to give me a raise but will be implementing some kind of commission that she hasn’t competently worked out.

Do you think it’s unreasonable for me to ask for a salary increase since I am taking on much more responsibility? And what is the best way to communicate this? I have known her for over 20 years and sometimes find it hard to communicate with her because she has a very strong personality and I tend to let people walk over me (something I have been working on recently but I’m not quite there yet).

Yes, absolutely. You’re taking on more responsibility (and probably more stress) and it’s entirely reasonable to expect to be paid for it. Research what this type of position should pay, and then go to her and say, “I’d like to talk about the salary for the new position. I’ve researched comparable jobs and it seems like a fair salary for the new role would be $X.”

If she tells you she’s working on that commission structure instead, decide if you want that or not — and if you don’t, tell her that you’d prefer to work on a straight salary basis.

Whatever you do, don’t start doing the work without getting this resolved, because once you start the job, your negotiating power goes way down (since you’ll have shown that you’re willing to do the work for less at that point).

2. Can my company require me to use my corporate credit card?

I work for a Fortune 500 company with around 80,000 employees. Our travel policy requires us to pay for travel expenses with our corporate American Express card. This is a card for which we each had to apply and it gets billed to each employee personally and we each personally pay off the debt from our personal accounts. We, of course, get reimbursed for the expenses if we supply a properly filled out travel expense report with a copy of a travel approval form (approved by the correct people) and a copy of a filled out trip report.

I don’t have a problem with all the reports but I feel that if I am supplying the credit, I should get to choose the method of payment. Does the company have the right to make us use this “corporate” card, which really seems like a personal credit card to me?

The policy reads: ‘“The usage of the Corporate American Express Card allows for optimized cash management, data consolidation to be used as negotiation leverage, as well as providing additional insurance coverage to the travellers. Therefore, employees required to travel for company business will be issued with an individual Corporate American Express card (AMEX), debiting their personal accounts. It must be used exclusively for business travel related expenses. It is mandatory that travel expenses are paid with the traveller’s AMEX card or with the traveller’s personal card if the AMEX card is not accepted by a supplier (for example Taxi expenses).”

They do indeed have the right to require you to use the corporate card. That said, I despise policies like this that require employees to use their personal funds for ongoing expenses like regular travel and then get reimbursed; it’s essentially requiring employees to provide a steady stream of short-term, interest-free loans to their employers … and it can pose difficulty for people in tight financial situations.

3. I work for an email spammer

I work in marketing for a small technology firm. Since our firm is unwilling to collect leads the old-fashioned way, we do it in one of the most unethical ways possible—we pull names off of sites like LinkedIn or Jigsaw, use a software program to guess email addresses for them, and then spam them repeatedly. Even worse, I’m in charge of collecting names and addresses, and my name is on all of the emails.

I’ve told my manager I’m uncomfortable with this, and it could get us in trouble. I was told there’s nothing to worry about. I don’t believe that, but I haven’t pressed it.

I’ve been with the company for seven months, but I’m already looking for a new job, because I’m worried about my reputation. What we’re doing may or may not be illegal, but it’s incredibly unethical and I don’t want to be a part of it. I absolutely don’t want my name on it. Am I making too much of this? And if I get an interview, how can I explain my reason for leaving without coming across as a whiner, or trashing my company? I’ve already had one interview that I feel like I bombed, because I couldn’t adequately state my reason for leaving.

I think your manager is right that it’s not illegal, assuming that the company is giving people a way to opt-out of these emails and honoring those requests (and complying with the FTC’s other email regulations). Sending unsolicited emails isn’t illegal in and of itself.

That said, I can see why you feel like it’s scummy and why you don’t want to be involved with it, and I don’t blame you for job searching. And in interviews, it’s perfectly reasonable to say that you’d like to work somewhere with more modern and effective marketing practices, and/or ones that are more in line with your own philosophy about what good marketing looks like.

Meanwhile, any chance that you can pull together some data for your manager showing that other methods would be more effective? It would be great to be able to say in interviews that you’ve done that.

4. Can we make an employee pay for a missed flight?

My company is located in California. I have an employee who missed her flight for a business trip because she cut it too close because she didn’t want to wait very long at the airport. Are we obligated to pay for her second ticket to go to the same place a day later?

California does require employers to pay for or reimburse employees for all business expenses, so yes. However, you can certainly address the missed flight and additional expense with her from a disciplinary perspective.

5. Taking two days off from my new job, which I haven’t started yet

I recently accepted a new position, and will be starting mid-November. My hiring was a pretty quick decision, and I was made an offer within four days of my initial interview. With the winter holidays looming, how do I approach my new boss with how holiday time off is handled? I’m not taking an extensive vacation, I just need two days, either the day before or after Christmas off to travel — I live alone 200 miles from family. How do I handle this situation?

Ideally, you want to cover pre-planned vacation time as part of your negotiations of a job offer, so that you don’t start work and have the request rejected because they need you there to cover while others are away or something like that. But all is not lost. Just email your new boss now and say something like, “I generally take two days off right before or right after Christmas to travel to see my family. Would it be a problem for me to do that next month? If it doesn’t cause problems, I could take either Dec. 23-24 or Dec. 26-27, depending on what’s better on the department’s end.”

The key here is that because you didn’t negotiate it as part of the offer itself, you don’t want to just announce you’re taking those days, before you’ve even started and seen how their culture works around this stuff. Instead you want more of a “would this be okay to do?” approach.

6. My manager’s boss is giving me work that takes me away from what my manager wants me to work on

The head director was previously my direct supervisor when I first started my job two years ago. After a few months, she was promoted. I love her to death and have a very soft spot for her, and when she asks me to do something extra, I will, even if this means coming in on a Saturday or Sunday. Well, most recently, the industry has been slowing down and our company business is down by 70% and layoffs have taken place. My direct manager is stressing our production in a very serious tone, to the point that if we don’t hit our numbers, we have to email her the reason why and what we can do to make sure it doesn’t happen in the future. (Scary right?).

But the director emails me on the side to do extra tasks for her that belong to another team or person (she can count on me to get it done), like typing up meeting agendas, scheduling meetings, making business calls, sitting in on meeting to take notes, and other secretarial work for her. However, lately, this is overflowing into my daily tasks and prevents me from hitting my daily numbers. I don’t want to throw blame and point fingers, because the director is my supervisor’s boss and I would think she would notify my supervisor of the extra things I do for her, but it doesn’t seem like it because I am constantly having to explain why I should keep my job. I don’t like telling my director no, because I know one of the reasons she gives me these tasks is to groom me on upper management skills. It doesn’t seem like the two communicate. I need help because it’s making my work very stressful, and now has caused me to work off the clock to get everything done.

You need to talk to them both, immediately. (And you need to stop working off the clock if you’re non-exempt, because that’s illegal.) Don’t assume they’re communicating about this already, because it sounds like they aren’t — and don’t see it as throwing blame, because it’s not; it’s just clarifying priorities.

Say this to your manager: “Can you give me advice on what to do when Jane asks me to do X, Y, and Z, if it seems like it will interfere with my regular work? I don’t want to say no to her, but it’s pulling me off of the work that you prefer me to focus on.”

And say this to your director: “Petunia has been very clear that she wants me to spend more time on A, B, and C, so I’m hesitant to push those things back. I love helping you, though, so I wonder if we can all talk and figure out the best way to divide my time?”

7. Here’s a good question to ask in job interviews

I’ve read your ebook on how to get a job and the guide on preparing for an interview. When I asked the Magic Question™, the interview panel was floored. “Ooo, good question.” During interview #3, I asked another question that might be worth including in the list: “What are the most critical issues facing your department, and how can the person in this position best help you handle those issues?”

That is indeed a great question. Consider it recommended.

{ 114 comments… read them below }

    1. periwinkle

      Thanks! (I’m OP #7) I rephrased the Magic Question by using field-specific terminology and context, but the essence was the same.

      The second question popped into my head when the hiring manager expanded on his answer to the MQ by defining the ideal performance for the department as a whole and hinting at some of the challenges.

      Verbal offer made and accepted. :-)

    2. Ramona

      I think I might be missing something because I don’t entirely understand that question. In particular, I don’t know what’s meant by “person in this position.” Which position and which person is the question referring to?

  1. Anonymous

    OP#3, it’s probably not illegal but it’s crappy marketing I agree.

    As for other things you can suggest to your company, what about comparing your current practices to, say, PPC ads? Figure out what your hit rate is with current practices (low I’d imagine) and the cost (high time-wise if you have to do all that research), and then compare that to PPC (figure out how much your ad bids would cost and what the average CTR is).

    I wouldn’t worry too much about it tarnishing your reputation. I get spam like this all the time, and I have no idea of the names of the people contacting me or even the companies. You have to really annoy me repeatedly (and probably by phone) in order for me to know your name. :)

    1. EngineerGirl

      I always penalize companies that pull this stunt. My LinkedIn profile is not for your spam, and if you use my profile to guess my email you get disbarred from any business from me.

      I don’t retaliate against the person ( I usually don’t remember who they are) But I do usually call them “idiots” under my breath as I delete the email. Tell your boss to stop it. It isn’t helping. Because I absolutely remember the name of the company filling up my in box.

        1. OP3

          We get one or two of those almost every time we send stuff out. In fact, we just this morning get a threatening e-mail from our email marketing provider threatening to cut us off. It’s disheartening.

      1. Bea W

        Same. I also never use the “opt out” for anything I get unsolicited. It only confirms the email address it good, and shady people like this obviously don’t give a crap thst you don’t want to be bothered. Otherwise, they’d be doing their marketing above board. Those emails go unread straight into trash, and the company won’t get my business. It’s double annoying if I get this crap at my work address. I don’t email non-collegues from my work email. So it is painfully obvious when I’m getting spammed.

    2. OP3

      Well I’m glad nobody will remember me! I thought maybe I was worrying a little too much about that.

      I tried getting us more involved in social media when I first came on, but I was told nobody uses Twitter. True story. Sigh.

      PPC is an option I’d like to use. Too bad it costs money! Guess we’ll see about that.

      1. ThursdaysGeek

        But, what you’re doing costs money too — your time and pay. If you can point out how much they really are paying vs. other options (that cost), they may see that it’s not so much more expensive as they think.

      2. Cath@VWXYNot?

        OP3, have you considered setting up an additional email address for these outgoing messages – one that you have access to, but that doesn’t have your name on it? Something like info@company or sales@company or whatever. At least it takes your name off the spam…

  2. Jessa

    #4 is it absolutely needful that only that employee can go on that trip? I’d be inclined (unless they were stranded on the away end of the trip,) to cancel it or send someone else and go straight to a pretty major “do not waste company money” PIP because missing a flight (barring major unexpected weather/traffic/serious illness) is right out.

    1. EngineerGirl

      I’m cringing at that one. I had only been working for 2 weeks at a new assignment when I was scheduled to go on a trip. For some reason, I was sleeping through my alarms. To make sure I didn’t miss my flight I a) asked my best friend to phone me at a certain time b) asked my boyfriend to phone me at a certain time c) got a wind up alarm clock and put it on the other side of the room d) set my regular alarm clock. Foolproof, right?
      I woke up at 8 am – having missed my 7:30 am flight.
      When I asked my boyfriend/Best friend why they didn’t phone me, each said “Oh, I knew you would get up, so I didn’t bother”.

      Thankfully, I had a great boss. But yikes! Sometimes we really do miss flights.

      Are you sure that is the reason the employee missed the flight? Or is this just speculation? If it is the way you say, you don’t have to send her now. Cancel the trip before it starts.

      1. Elle D

        This happened to me once as well – I had just been promoted, was incredibly stressed out and working long hours, and missed my flight for my second ever business trip because I overslept. I immediately called my boss and explained the situation, apologized profusely, and asked her how she would like to handle it. My boss understood, told me to book the next outgoing flight, and since I was calling just as I was missing the flight (I woke up at 7:00 for a 7:30 flight and lived 25 minutes from the airport – there was just no way I was going to make it) as traveler mentions below the airline was able to rebook me for a $50 fee. I was mortified, and would have been devastated if I was penalized in the long term for this. I understand it was bad, but it was such an out of character gaffe for me. I got to the airport for every subsequent trip a full 2 hours early.

        1. Contessa

          I missed the plane for my first-ever business trip because I forgot my wallet at home >_> I was in my office, ready to leave for the airport, and then–oh, crap, I don’t have my ID. I had to take the train home, get my wallet, then take the train back down to the airport. Fortunately, I booked my flight through our travel service, which allows flights to be moved for free. I felt like an idiot, though. One of my friends who had done a lot of travel for work made snarky comments and offered me “business travel advice” for a year afterward.

          1. Ag

            Similar situation – when I was taking my first business trip I realized once I got to the airport that I forgot my phone. Normally wouldn’t be a huge deal since it was only 2 days and I had my laptop… but I was supposed to be live tweeting a road race/charity event. I would need my phone to do that. I freaked out and asked someone if I could borrow their phone, called the only number I know by heart (my sister) and had her call my friend who dropped me off. My friend had to go back to my place, get my phone and bring it back (the airport is 45 mins away). Luckily there was a later flight and I was only to be charged the $50 rebooking fee – but the airline employee felt bad for me (said I reminded her of her daughter) and waived the fee. Every time I think about it, I get SO embarrassed! But, my boss understood and since I made it there on time and didn’t even get charged a fee, there wasn’t an issue.

            1. Bea W

              Fedex Priority is an option when you can wait until morning. I found enroute to the airport I had fogotten my medications. I was on a ferry so going back was not an option. I called my mother who had a key to my place and asked her to stop by there, grab my stuff and priority overnight it to my hotel. *phew* picked it up at the desk in the morning on my way to my meeting.

      2. Kit M.

        I am so angry at your boyfriend and friend after reading this story!

        I did the alarm-across-the-room thing for morning classes in college, and still managed to turn off the alarm without waking up.

    2. traveler

      Depending on how much you miss the flight by, it’s often not hard to get the airline to change your ticket.

      When I’ve missed a flight by a slim margin, I just ask the airline desk to rebook me, and they’ve always done so.

      If you know in advance that you may miss the flight, you can do standby or rebook easily for $50 to $200.

      1. Cat

        Yeah, I thought it was weird that they’d have to buy an entirely new ticket. I’m wondering if it was some super-cheap web-only fare. I tend not to buy those for business travel because, about 50% of the time, whatever I’m doing runs long and I have to change my flight regardless.

      2. Bea W

        I missed a flight by a full day once. I thought I booked it for Tuesday, but I had really booked it for Monday. Luckily the airline was totally awesome and rebooked my ticket for the flight I meant to book and only charged me the $100 change fee. They did tell me when I did not show for the first flight, my return flight was automatically cancelled. I’d booked the trip last minute to fly across the country with my mother. The family had decided to take my grandfather off life support. It rally could have been a nightmare! The people at America West were super awesome about fixing my stupid mistake.

    3. Meg

      That’s really harsh, IMO. Things happen. I don’t travel for business, but I recently missed a personal flight even though I showed up two hours early because the security line was moving so slowly and the TSA agents were supremely unhelpful (Dulles, I’m calling you out on this one). If this is something that happens on a regular basis, that’s absolutely worrisome, but unfortunately, people are human and make mistakes. Hopefully she learned.

    4. BCW

      I think its horrible that you want to make them pay for a missed flight. Sometimes things happen. If this employee made it a habit, then sure, I can see there being a conversation or something. But whether she overslept, traffic was bad, or she just thought she had enough time and she didn’t, you should penalize her.

      1. Cath@VWXYNot?

        Agreed. We didn’t even make an employee pay the rebooking fee when he thought it was somehow OK to show up at the airport for an international flight without his passport… although we did gently ridicule him for a while :)

      2. Sunshine DC

        Agreed, especially when, as another posted commented, same-day rebooking on stand-by is super-cheap (in the U.S., at least.) The traveler has literally until the moment a flight takes off to call and ask to be rebooked or go standby on a later flight and the fees are typically $25-$50 on any domestic ticked in the USA.

        The only exceptions would be like a blind-purchase Priceline or Hotwire, which should never ever be used for business because you can’t know in advance what time or how many (or how long) any stops may be.

  3. Jake

    The response to #6 has piqued my curiosity. When a non-exempt employee works additional hours on their own (without permission or even when being told not to) and does not report them, who is liable according to the law?

    We’ve had this problem where I work, but it is kind of an accepted industry standard thing. For example, our ironworker foreman always shows up an hour early and reviews the drawings for what he will be working on that day. He gets paid a half hour of OT for this because that is what the company is willing to pay for, but he still comes in a full hour early even after being told not to. He never gets paid for the full hour. I’ve brought it up several times before and I get reactions that range from, “who cares” to “get used to it because your going to get that on every project you go to.”

    I see where the attitude is coming from because really, studying the plans in not what most people would say he “gets paid to do” but it is still work…

    1. Confused

      Maybe he needs the full hour to complete his work. At OldJob I was not given enough time for certain tasks. I was given extra time when I asked for it but told I needed to work on time management during yearly review. Had I worked off the clock and not reported it, it would not have been an issue.

    2. Elizabeth

      IANAL, but I think that technically the company could still be liable and he could, for example, sue for back wages and win. It’s my understanding that while an employer can discipline an employee for working unauthorized overtime – even fire them for doing so – they can’t fail to pay for the overtime.

      Your case is perhaps a little murkier if no one ever told the foreman to study the plans. It runs into an interesting question of what counts as “work.” When I was an hourly, non-exempt teaching assistant, I sometimes thought about lesson ideas in the shower or jotted notes to myself about a student at home after dinner, and I certainly didn’t get paid overtime for it (nor, in my opinion, should I have) because my employere didn’t tell me I should do those things.

    3. Not Your Lawyer

      It depends on if it is a private or government employer. Assuming it is a private employer, the employer had to pay for all work “suffered or permitted.” If an employer allows the work to be done (does not actively try to stop the employee from working) and the employer accepts the benefits of the work, the employee should be getting paid.

      Your specific situation sounds open to interpretation – they’ve told him not to come in. It would depend on how aggressive they’ve been about it, whether they’ve disciplined him, whether they’ve told him directly or just sent out a company-wide memo or something, there are lots of moving pieces. But generally, the answer to your question is that the employer is responsible for paying the employee for all hours worked that they had reason to know about, even if they’re outside the employee’s regular schedule.

      1. Anonymous

        I can tell you that Wal-Mart forbids people to work off the click to the point that they will fire you if you answer a customer’s question while walking through the store on your way to or from clocking out.

        1. Not So NewReader

          I bet that baffles the heck out of the customers. “Hey, that clerk is ignoring me!”
          Then the clerk gets fired for ignoring the customer. Whatta system.

          1. TL

            I imagine they take their namecards and probably scrub top off before they leave, so they’re not easily identifiable as clerks.
            I have a friend who does this at the bookstore he works at – answers questions off the clock – and over the holiday season, it’ll add up to more than a hour or two a week. Drives me crazy.

            1. Elizabeth West

              No, they don’t always; at the Walmart close to me, I see them outside on their smoke breaks with smocks and name tags clearly visible. However, I don’t know if they’re supposed to take them off and just aren’t doing it.

        2. Not Your Lawyer

          That’s the gist, but I think that policy is an over-reaction based only on the law. The law doesn’t require paying employees for very short (de minimis) amounts of time, like the amount of time it would take to say “Let me find someone else who can help you with that” even if you’re off the clock. In Wal-Mart’s case I would bet that they have trouble with people who try to pick up extra hours by saying “The customer needed help!” and then dragging out their shift forever.

          1. Natalie

            “In Wal-Mart’s case I would bet that they have trouble with people who try to pick up extra hours by saying “The customer needed help!” and then dragging out their shift forever.”

            The company has faced class action lawsuits in at least 5 states for allegedly forcing employees to work off the clock. While they’ve settled without admitting wrong doing, I suspect these sorts of policies are more about trying to seem very aggressive about following the law.

            1. Not Your Lawyer

              That’s one possibility, for sure, if this policy is newer than those lawsuits. I was thinking that since WalMart is famous for scheduling people for hours just shy of full time so that the company can avoid paying full-time benefits, that they may be trying to minimize hours for that reason, too. The poster said “to or from clocking out,” which I guess could go both ways. It could be different in different stores, too, depending on the culture. All around, they’re not really known for awesome employment policies, so I wouldn’t suggest anyone use them as a ‘how to pay employees’ model.

          2. FiveNine

            I would sincerely disagree, and suggest the bigger problem is Walmart’s understaffing and the very real likelihood that employees just trying to get out of the building already wind up being stopped by customer(s) (plural) and invariably find themselves assisting for not insignificant amounts of time.

            1. E

              I agree people get stopped and that Walmart probably under-staffs. But I don’t think that Walmart would create a policy of not talking to customers because they feel bad for employees who are just trying to get out of the building. I don’t think they’re that benevolent. It’s more likely that they don’t want to pay overtime or that they’ve been sued, like Natalie said. Either way, the policy isn’t the way it is because that is what the law requires.

      2. Joey

        Except, the employer is not liable when it doesn’t know or have reason to know that the work was being performed.

      3. Jake

        Thank you NYL.

        I would have to say we are liable because while he has been explicitly directed several times, it is always verbal with no written record of the behavior.

        That being said, we are a construction contractor. Employment documentation doesn’t really fall in with our industry norms (not a justification, just a fact) because all craftsmen are hire from the union hall and can be terminated at any time for any reason at almost no notice according to their collective bargaining agreement, minus the obvious EEO stuff. We don’t do a whole lot of documentation because, well, it has never really been necessary.

  4. Confused

    #1
    In addition to AAM’s advice about resolving the pay before you start, be sure and get it in writing!

    1. Katieinthemountains

      Okay, but what if the boss keeps stonewalling and it’s time for the store to open? Should the OP refuse to work in the store? Isn’t the boss more likely to just fire OP for not coming in to work instead of giving a raise or implementing a viable commission system?

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        If that happens she should say, “I’m really excited to get started, but we need to get the salary nailed down.” And if the boss still stonewalls, then she says, “I don’t want us to find ourselves in a position where we can’t come to terms on salary after I’ve already started doing the job.”

        If the boss is pushing her to work without that, even once the OP has clearly said she doesn’t want to, that’s a red flag. She’d then need to decide whether she’s willing to risk finding herself in the job with no salary increase at all.

  5. Ann Furthermore

    #2: This seems like such a backwards way to do things nowadays. My company makes us use a corporate credit card, which you are required to use for all travel expenses. Then your charges are loaded into the expense reporting system, and you go in and complete your expense report. There’s a link there to apply them, provide the detail for what it was for (hotel, meals, etc) and you submit it to your boss. Then after it’s approved the travel system provider does a direct debit to the company’s bank account, so you never have to pay anything from your own personal bank account. The only thing you’re ever waiting on is reimbursement for cash items — tolls, taxes, etc.

    Most corporate AMEX cards give you 60 days to pay so you have time to get reimbursed for your expenses before the bill is due. When I did consulting, expenses were reimbursed the old fashioned way, to your bank account. One month I got all screwed up and used a bunch of expense reimbursement money to pay down some of my personal credit cards. Then I got my AMEX bill in the mail…gulp! Since I had 60 days to pay, thankfully I was able to fix my mistake before my account was past due. That’s a mistake you only make once. After that I would get my expense reimbursements and immediately transfer them to my savings account until I got my AMEX statement. That seemed to work pretty well for me.

    There are still people who can’t get it together to do their expense reports in a timely fashion, which just baffles me because it is SO much easier than it used to be.

    #4: I also don’t get people who wait until the last minute to go to the airport. I’m the complete opposite — I want to have plenty of time to get through security, to leave a buffer for the people who still don’t know to take their laptops out of their bags to have them scanned separately, or for the woman who has to remove her over-the-knee lace-up boots, or the people who don’t take their approved 1-gallon Ziploc bags out to be scanned, or gate changes, or any of the zillion other things that can happen when you travel.

    If I missed a flight because I cut it too close my boss would be SO pissed off at me! But if this person is not accustomed to travelling, and doesn’t know that things can and usually do happen that cause delays, she should probably get a hall pass this one time. Then if she does it again, I would just tell her she’s not allowed to travel, since she clearly hasn’t learned her lesson.

    1. Elkay

      My company isn’t as advanced as yours but whoever has the company card gets the statement sent to them then they have to return it to finance with the receipts attached. If you don’t have a company card they give you a pre-loaded cash card so you can withdraw cash and submit all your receipts. Paying out of your own pocket (other than for things like personal mileage) seems bizarre.

      1. Katie

        At my last job, I had a company card, and the system worked fine. The transactions from the corporate amex were loaded into our expenses reporting system, I did my monthly expense report, and the company paid the bill. Easy. I never had to wait for reimbursement. I actually didn’t love the system because I would have preferred to collect points on my own credit card… but that’s just personal preference.

        1. Elkay

          I agree about collecting points, but I guess from a business point of view it’s easier to assume that staff can’t afford to pay their business expenses on top of their personal expenses and therefore feed everything through a central system.

          1. Ann Furthermore

            I’ve heard of some companies that don’t let you keep your frequent flier miles, and instead collect them to use to save money on airfares. I don’t even know how that would work, but it would absolutely, definitely suck.

            Travelling for work is hard. The frequent flier miles are a reasonable perk for that.

            1. FreeThinkerTX

              I worked for a software company back in the 90’s where the president of the company took everyone’s frequent flier miles and applied them to his personal vacation and travel plans. His reasoning was that if it wasn’t for him, no one would be taking business trips anyway, so he was the one who had “earned” them.

              No surprise that he got ousted when the company was bought out. He had been slated to continue on as the new company’s division president, but the employees rebelled (all 200 of them) and said they’d all quit immediately if the president was allowed to stay on board. (The guy was scumbag whose egregious behavior scanned the spectrum well beyond hijacking frequent flier miles). The president, who was at the NYC headquarters of the new company, was sent packing back to Texas post-haste.

        2. Contessa

          That’s exactly why I use my own cards and book my own travel. I get points on my credit card, hotels.com free nights, and frequent flier miles (which always expire, because I don’t fly often enough). I have the option to get an American Express through work, but I don’t want it.

          1. Lucy

            But at least it is offered and you choose not to use it.

            Businesses that assume all their employees have unlimited available credit confound me.

          2. Windchime

            This is how it works at my job, too. If I’m attending training or a conference, I provide the information to the purchasing department and they register me and pay with a purchase order. But for travel (hotel, air, etc), we make our own arrangements and use our personal credit cards. My job is really quick about reimbursement, though…usually within a week or two of submission, before the credit card bill even arrives.

            And we get to keep our frequent flier miles.

    2. Short Geologist

      Regarding the 60-day grace period: that cushion doesn’t look so great if you’re booking flights or need other reservations a couple weeks in advance, but are required to submit a “complete” report for everything at once. Then you’re waiting for the hotel or shuttle charges to appear on the corporate system (up to a week after you first charged it) then you can wait up to 2 weeks for the reimbursement to go through.

      I actually had it worse – we had a credit card with a regular (short) grace period that was paid by the company, but apparently would still ding your credit if you/they didn’t pay in time as above. I just put all my advance reservations on my personal card and accepted that I was going to have a discussion with AP.

      AAM is correct. It’s ridiculous that big corporations are essentially getting short- term loans on the back of their employees.

      1. CAA

        Yes, it’s interesting. The amount of money I’ve had to front for business expenses is proportional to the size of the company I was working for. Tiny companies seem to be the most likely to buy plane tickets on the company’s card and pre-pay your hotel room. The Fortune 5 company was the one that made us get corporate Amex cards and pay the bills ourselves while waiting for reimbursements from them. (These types of cards are not relying on your own credit though. The company is guaranteeing payment, so if you don’t pay your bill, or if you die, or otherwise disappear, Amex will ding the company.)

        The company I work at now, which is about 500 employees, makes us book and pay for all our own travel on our personal cards.

    3. Colette

      Yes, my company’s expense process is similar.

      I’d also add that although I had to apply for a corporate card, I was applying with my company, not with AMEX. I don’t believe my corporate AMEX shows up on my personal credit report.

      1. KAS

        As far as I am concerned you all have it really good. At the delightful organization where I am employed we need to use our own credit for booking and paying for everything. Expenses take upwards of 90 days to be reimbursed–and that’s if you are ALL over the folks who process the reports. No wonder our owner can afford to have 6 houses. She uses employees as a float.

        1. Colette

          That’s ridiculous. I’d be explaining that I couldn’t afford to do that and I’d definitely be expensing any interest I had to pay.

        2. Ann Furthermore

          Oh, that is awful! Shame on your company for doing that. KAS is right. You should be submitting expense reports for the interest that you incur.

    4. AgilePhalanges

      I realize I am WAY late to the game, and haven’t yet scrolled through all the responses yet, but wanted to respond to the expense payment/reporting issue.

      Our company used to have what people think of as a traditional card, and what is described above. The employee doesn’t pay the bill directly–the company pays it. However, people weren’t in any big hurry to submit their receipts or explanations for the charges incurred on the company card, and their out-of-pocket expenses were relatively small, so they didn’t have much incentive even with the cash reimbursements held hostage pending receipts for the card charges.

      So we switched to a system where the bills go to the employee who has to pay them out of their own funds, which of course come from reimbursement of those same charges. However, the COMPANY is the one whose credit is on the line. The card is in the employee’s name, yes, but their credit is never checked in order to be issued the card, and if they never paid their bill, it’s the company’s credit that would take the hit (meanwhile, the employee would be disciplined and/or fired, but their credit would be intact).

      We also don’t want employees to have to actually pay out of their own funds and we want to encourage employees to book airfare when it is economical, so we allow pre-paid expenses to be reimbursed anytime after payment–they don’t have to be held until the trip is actually taken. Yes, this means you’ll potentially have hotel and meals for the trip you took last week on the same report as airfare for the trip you’re taking in six weeks, but AP doesn’t care if the employee doesn’t (some choose to submit airfare for future trips separately, and that’s fine, too).

      Our AP turns expenses around FAST–reports approved by 3:00 p.m. Wednesday (Pacific, so later in other timezones) have funds placed in the employee’s bank account first thing Friday morning (in their own timezone). So worst case, if the approver doesn’t approve it until 3:01 Wednesday, the employee has to wait 9 days. But in most cases it’s under a week, so as long as the employee is staying on top of it, that’s well before the end of the billing cycle plus grace period until due date.

      The OP should determine whether their employee has any of the same “rules” in place that my employer does that makes this system more employee-friendly than it seems at first glance.

      Oh, and our company only issues the corporate cards to people who travel frequently enough to warrant them, but does give cash advances to employees who need them in order to book travel or even as spending money during the trip, and then it gets settled up at the end. Employees can also keep their own frequent flier miles or other reward points, and in fact, the company doesn’t actually require use of the company card, it’s more of a courtesy, so employees are free to use their own cards but then it DOES affect their credit if they can’t pay in time one month. Really the only benefit to the company of employees using the cards is the visibility–the company can see whether someone is paying late and talk to them about it (though we don’t reimburse late fees even if they’re incurred), and I think can run reports to see things like how much a certain department spent on airfare, though of course they can do that in the expense reporting tool, too.

  6. FRchick

    OP#3, I don’t know how far your company is trying to reach out to potential clients through email spams, but FYI spamming IS illegal in all European Union countries.

          1. Ask a Manager Post author

            I think the difference is the definition of spam, right? In the US, it’s legal if you let people unsubscribe/opt-out and meet some other conditions (which are at that link) but it’s legal to send unsolicited mass email as long as you do that. In the EU, is it illegal to send them at all?

            1. OP3

              From what I understand (and I’m not exactly a lawyer), sending unsolicited email is legal if you have an opt-out mechanism. What’s not legal is using an email harvester to get your addresses.

              Thanks for running my question!

            2. kristinyc

              Yes – EU and US define spam differently. (I don’t know Europe’s laws since I don’t send there). One of the problems with email/spam in general is that a lot of consumers don’t know the definition of “Spam” either.

              If you’ve EVER subscribed to an email list, and received emails, and haven’t clicked “Unsubscribe,” and the sender is CAN-SPAM compliant (unsub links, doesn’t have misleading subject lines, etc), then you’re NOT receiving spam.

              A lot of consumers just assume that all email marketing IS spam. Some is, but a lot of it is not. If they click “Report spam” in their inbox on an email that is NOT technically spam, it hurts the sender’s ability to send emails. (PSA to everyone – if you’re getting emails you don’t want, click “unsubscribe.” The sender has 10 days to remove you from their list. If that doesn’t work, or they don’t have an unsubscribe button, THEN you can report as spam.)

              1. fposte

                I would say that being compliant with the CAN-SPAM act isn’t enough to make something not de facto spam, and that stuff that ends up in my email box without my permission gets whatever I please done to it.

                Additionally, there’s a big grey area that hasn’t been ruled on, which is the initial preferences toggle in a vendor form. Requests for nonsubscription there are widely ignored without breaching the CAN SPAM act, but they are, IMHO, just as ethically binding, and I have no compunction about what happens to any mailer that breaches them.

                1. kristinyc

                  Think of it like employment law – there are a lot of things that are technically legal, but terrible practices. CAN-SPAM just defines the bare minimum that you have to comply with, but good email marketers who want their customers to actually engage in their emails are more thoughtful about how they’re sending emails.

  7. kristinyc

    #3 – I’m a (legit) email marketer and have been for 5 years. Are you using your individual work email address to send these, or are you using an Email Service Provider (like Mailchimp or Silverpop)? If it’s the latter, you might have an out. A lot of ESPs state in their contracts that subscriber lists must be opt IN rather than opt OUT. CAN-SPAM says that email lists need to be opt-out at a minimum, but a lot of ESPs think that’s not good enough and require that subscribers opt in. (The reason is because a lot of ESPs use IP ranges, so you’d be sending the emails from IP addresses that you’re sharing with other customers of the ESP. That means that if you’re sending spammy emails and people click “Report Spam,” it could affect other people’s deliverability rates. Most ESPs won’t allow that, and will shut down your account if you’re the cause of deliverability issues for their other customers).

    If you’re sending the emails through a dedicated IP address (not on a range) , spammy emails are probably not even getting delivered. Can you look at your open rates by domain? If the emails are spammy enough, it’s possible (and likely) that a lot of people have reported them as spam, and you could already be getting blocked at certain email domains).

    There’s a lot of information about email marketing out there, and there are legitimate ways to do lead generation through email. Purchased/found lists are not.

    But to echo Allison’s advice – yes, look for another job. Companies that send spammy emails are ruining my field. I’ve turned down “email marketing” jobs that I found out were unethical after I interviewed.

    1. Joey

      I’m curious. What exactly makes a legit email marketer? Because to me when that little opt in box is already checked it feels a little sneaky. It feels more legit when that little box is unchecked and you have to consiously check it.

      1. kristinyc

        We don’t even have that box – we use an opt-in method. People have to specifically sign up to receive our emails. Companies that do that are using an opt-out method rather opt-in. It’s legal, but not going to get the best open/click rates.

        Legit email marketing – sending promotional emails to people who ask to receive them, and honoring unsubscribe requests/complying with the CAN-SPAM act.

        1. Elizabeth West

          That’s the way WordPress is–if you want to follow my blog via email, you have to sign up. Then you get ONE email when I put up a post. Same if I want to follow someone else. I like it, because I only get the emails I want to get.

          I almost feel bad for followers during the Blogging from A-Z Challenge in April; they get an email every day!

    2. Ask a Manager Post author

      Kristin, am I right in thinking that if people are reporting these emails as spam (which is as easy as just clicking a button in most email programs), and if they’re blocked at certain email domains as a result, it could be preventing other, legitimate emails from the company’s IP address from getting through to other people? That could be a useful thing to point out to the boss.

      1. Jaimie

        This is correct. The practice is a good way to get blocked. It’s also likely in violation of the terms of use for LinkedIn and Jigsaw.

      2. kristinyc

        Yes! If the OP is sending from her regular work account (like out of Outlook), that could hurt her entire company’s ability to send ANY email to anyone externally if enough people report these emails as spam. That’s why a lot have brands have 3 separate IP addresses – Marketing emails, Transactional emails (receipts, order confirmations, etc), and then general company emails that employees use.

      3. annie

        Yes, this happened at our company because of an old coworker who subscribed his whole address book without getting their permission (and without company knowledge). We got shut down and still, years later, we often get flagged as a spammer from other domains. It takes years to undo this kind of damage, not to mention money, and of course having my legit emails not going through to the people I do business with… well, I can’t even calculate what that has cost our company over time.

  8. Bryan

    #2 I feel like it’s a stretch to call it a corporate card. Travel policies like this are awful and can cause a ton of stress on employees.

    1. Arbynka

      And I am guessing employees are responsible for paying the yearly membership fee ? I do travel to Europe often because of school so I do have the American Express Delta card and Visa British Airways card. So there is another question. If the card collects miles, can employees use them for their personal travel as well or are they used for company travel only ? And if company does not reimburses within the grace period, is the employee responsible for paying the interest ?

      1. Colette

        The corporate cards I’ve had don’t collect points/miles and there is no membership fee. (The company probably pays one overall, but there’s nothing charged to the card.)

    2. Colette

      I believe it’s a corporate card because it’s the corporation’s credit that is used to qualify, not personal credit. That’s also why you are only allowed (by policy) to charge business expenses to the card, I assume.

      As long as you’re promptly submitting your expenses (and they’re being paid promptly), it’s actually no hardship at all.

      1. Arbynka

        That makes sense. I see it’s being discussed couple posts above as well. I don’t know how I missed that. Need more coffee…

      2. Judy

        There are always times when you charge an airline ticket right before the statement date, and I’ve never worked anywhere where submitting a partial expense report for a trip of less than 1 month was ok. Tickets to Europe are a bit costly. Even if you submit your report promptly the next working day after a trip, you could still be on the hook for paying for part of the trip before the expense is sent in. We now have to wait for the CC charges to clear before submitting the expense report, which means we can’t submit the report for at least a week after the trip is over. If we were still having to pay ourselves, it would be a problem.

        1. Colette

          If you are required to expense the entire trip at once, I can see that that would be a problem.

          Our system is set up so that our charges automatically flow into the expense system, so I’d see the plane ticket charge within a few days and be able to expense it immediately.

          Do you have to wait for the charge to appear on a paper statement, or can you submit a screenshot of the account online?

          1. Judy

            Our expense system shows the electronic charges, and then we attach them to an expense report. When the trip’s report is complete, we submit it.

        2. Arbynka

          Quick trip down the nostalgy lane. My first Europe-US airplane ticket was 400 dollars. (16 years ago). Now the cheapest ones I find are 1000.

  9. Brett

    #1 What if the pay for the new responsibilities are much less that the pay for your current responsibilities?
    For example, I took over social media management for our agency. But a social media manager is a lower pay grade than my current pay grade, so in theory taking on those duties could lower my pay rather than increase it? (Both job classifications are salaried exempt, so hours do not matter.)

  10. WorkingMom

    #5 – I wouldn’t worry about it, I agree with AAM’s advice. For what it’s worth – I just hired two new employees and personally, I don’t expect that they won’t ask for some time off around the holidays. I think most reasonable managers would expect someone (even if brand new) to ask for a couple of days for holidays. You may not have any PTO accrued by that time – so it could end up being unpaid, or borrow from future PTO if your company allows that. Good luck in your new role!

    1. HR lady

      #5 – Yes, I came here to say that it likely would be unpaid leave (and likely would have been unpaid even if you did negotiate it earlier). But the key is that you’re asking to be allowed to take the time off (understanding that it will probably be unpaid).

  11. ExceptionToTheRule

    #1 – I was you about 2 years ago. AAM is dead on correct. Negotiate this up front. If she forces the issue, calling it “other duties as assigned” or something, you also need to be prepared to start job hunting.

    #5 – When I hire this close to the holidays, I make sure that my expectations of “will have to work the holidays” or “we’ve still got some wiggle room” are made clear in the interview process. I would encourage you to ask. It’s a good opportunity to clarify any other questions you might have about their time off procedures.

  12. Anonymous

    Re #2, odds are that the company requires this because it gets a portion of the merchant fees AmEx receives for the covered spend (I used to handle these contracts). The company is going to be very firm about this not only for the tracking and data collection, but because using a different card costs them money.

    Just to be clear, I’m not suggesting that there is anything wrong with that. If the card is only used for business expenses that the company covers, the company should be able to take legal efforts to reduce them, such as getting a certain percentage back. I just thought I would share why employees are not likely to get much traction challenging the requirement.

    Re #4, it seems clear that the flight was not missed by accident, but because the employee made an intentional choice to jeopardize her employer’s business for her own convenience. Personally, if I was this individual’s manager, I would be seriously thinking about an explicit adjustment to her next raise as a natural consequence of wasting the company’s funds.

    I do understand that the company has to pay for business expenses and I’m not disputing that. But if I am not obligated (for example by a union contract) to give her a raise, this would be within my discretion. Saying “Your raise would have been X, but you cost the company Y when you failed to make sure you reached the airport on time, so this year you will be receiving Z” where Z is roughly (not to the penny) X-Y may help drive this home.

    I should say that it would never occur to me to do this with any of my current employees, or in the situations I have read about so far in the comments. Mistakes do happen, and people oversleep and I understand that. The raise adjustment to compensate for costs would be – in my opinion – way out of line under any of those circumstances. I only mentioned it because the letter makes it seem pretty clear that this was not simple human error or a mistake, but rather a deliberate choice – and I think those can fairly have consequences. The question for the manager should be whether this is needed to address a problem behavior.

    1. PoohBear McGriddles

      I am convinced there is a private island somewhere, in the Caribbean perhaps, where AMEX entertains CFOs and pitches their corporate card.

  13. Cat

    I’m curious how brazen the employee was about missing the flight. Did she say “I may miss this, but I haaaaaate airports so I’m going to cut it short”? Or did she say “oh, traffic is usually fine that time of day and security line are usually short, and I hate waiting around, so leaving 2 hours before the flight should be fine”? I feel like my reaction would be drastically different between those two things.

    1. OP3

      Oh, I’ve read that thing front to back. I think we’re mostly keeping with it, except for the part about using an email harvester.

  14. scrapdog

    I have both of the E-Book’s but I am having a hard time remembering the magic question. I even did a CTRL-F to find the word magic in my e-books! LOL

    Anyone remember the question? In the process of setting up interviews.

  15. Barbara in Swampeast

    #6 – I disagree with AAM here. I think you first need to tell the director that you do not have time to help because it is interfering with your primary job. And besides, secretarial work is not “grooming on upper management skills.” In fact she is showing very poor upper management skills by USING you instead of managing her own people.

    Now if the director needs you so badly, tell her that your current job is precarious and you have to concentrate on it. If she wants you to work for her then she should give you job under her so you don’t have to do this balancing act.

    1. JMegan

      Agreed. “Typing up meeting agendas, scheduling meetings, making business calls, sitting in on meeting to take notes,” are not upper management skills. You said it yourself, these are secretarial tasks.

      I doubt very much that she is “grooming you for upper management” by having you do her admin work on the weekends, and without telling anyone else about it. Sounds to me like she’s taking advantage of your good will and your willingness to help out.

      I agree with AAM about talking to them both. Put the problem on the table, and see if you can work together to find a way to solve it. Good luck!

    2. #6herenow

      Well in repsonse, she actually is, I have been promoted 3 times by her personally. I was previously on a supervisory level but due to reductions, my teams were cut and I was moved to a needed position which saved me a job and allowed for me to keep my perks. I am not referring to occassional quick meetings, I get to sit in on very high profile meetinga that are not normally allowed for my level. I have been on mulitple business conferences with her and she shows me how to network and always give me tips and notes. I am very grateful for her. Writing agenda’s for CEO’s and VP’s might seem minumal to some, but it shows me how to lead a meeting and do other things. Maybe I should have included those things also with the question. But part of me dont want to tell her no, because I do enjoy the work I do for her. I get intel on privilege information and get to do a lot of networking with high profile business leaders. I am not naive to think that she isnt taking advantgage of me in some ways but I do allow it. I am just not sure how to make it stop now without damaging the relationship and seeming ungrateful. I like being her go to person but I need my job and since I don’t know who is specifically in charge of picking people for layoffs, I want to be cautious when bringing this to light

      1. Barbara in Swampeast

        Can you point out to her that your job is in jeopardy and you need to give your full attention to that? You aren’t being ungrateful by trying to keep your job. After all, you can’t be her go-to person if you aren’t there. I wouldn’t bring this up with your supervisor unless you know that she knows this is going on. If you talk to your supervisor and she doesn’t know this is happening, depending on the kind of person she is, it could get ugly fast.

  16. danr

    #5… ask if your new company offers extra days off around holidays. My old company always added an extra day to Christmas, either the day before or after and it was announced around Thanksgiving.

  17. mel

    Is spam really not illegal in some small way? I write newsletters and I’m required to get actual permission to add a person to a list. Why the permission requirement if all you have to do is add an unsubscribe button?

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      That could be the policy of your employer or the policy of your email marketing service (like if you use Mailchimp or something like that to send your emails).

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