asking to work 20% fewer hours, company won’t pay interest on business credit card charges, and more

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. Asking to work 20% fewer hours

I have been at my new job for about 5 weeks now. I noticed that some of my coworkers work “80 percent” or 32 hours per week. I would love to pare my schedule down to 32 hours per week, but I have no idea how to ask my boss how to do that. Because I started work in wintry February, I already had to leave early once to pick my kids up from school when it closed early, and I had to use one sick day due to a stomach virus that went through our family. I’m afraid I’ve already rubbed her the wrong way and asking her about 80% will make things worse. For what it’s worth, my former boss loved me and didn’t even blink if I had to leave work early or work from home because I always met my deadlines and did great work.

Asking to work 20% less is a big deal — it’s not like asking to flex your hours one day a week or telecommute on occasion. It’s a significant cut to the work you’d be doing.

I’d wait at least six months before asking about this. Asking when you’re so new risk really alarming your manager, who hired you to do a full-time job and likely won’t be thrilled to hear you’d like to chop off 20% of that. Meanwhile, you could discreetly ask some of your 80% coworkers how they negotiated the arrangement, to get some sense of whether it would be a reasonable thing for you to ask for — and how long you’d need to wait.

2. Company won’t pay interest on credit card charges for business expenses

When interest is incurred on a personal credit card for company travel expenses, who is responsible for paying the interest?

I recently had to spend $2,000 on my personal credit card for company business, and the company took 3 weeks to reimburse me. During that time the interest accrued on the credit card stacked up to about $60– showing them my credit card statement, I asked the company to reimburse me for that and they wouldn’t. Then they sent out a company-wide email telling everyone no credit card interest would be reimbursed on company expenses. This seems unethical to me, what is your take on it?

Hell, yes, it’s unethical. And unreasonable and unfair and crappy and a good way to drive away good employees. They’re asking you not only to float them the money for business expenses, but to incur penalties for doing so. They absolutely should pay those interest charges. They suck.

3. Not having references from your current job

I’ve recently started up my job search after a few years at a great job – nothing is wrong, but it’s a small nonprofit (5 employees) and there’s really not any more upward mobility available, so it’s time to move on. I am directly under the executive director, and the other employees are below me in terms of hierarchy/seniority, although I don’t manage them. I have a great relationship with my boss, and in the future, there are several people I feel that I could use as references from this job (the ED and a few board members), but for obvious reasons I don’t want them to know that I’m job-hunting right now.

In the past, I’ve used colleagues and project managers who were a little above me seniority-wise as references when I didn’t want to alert my supervisor to my job search, but I’ve never been in the position before where there’s nobody else above me except for my boss. Is it a huge problem to not have references for your current job? I do work closely with several outside contractors (mainly special events planners and consultants) – is it okay to use them as references? If not, any thoughts on others I might be able to use?

It’s pretty normal, actually. Most people don’t use references from their current job, because they don’t want to jeopardize their employment, and other employers understand that. Just use managers from previous jobs.

4. My manager is prohibiting me from hanging out with his ex-wife

Can my boss prohibit me from hanging out with his ex-wife?

Legally? Yes. And you know, while the idea of a manager telling someone who they can and can’t hang out with in their private life is certainly disagreeable to most of us (including me), it also doesn’t take a ton of emotional intelligence or knowledge of human dynamics to realize that growing close to your boss’s ex could be something that impacts your working relationship, fairly or unfairly.

5. Juno email accounts will email ads along with your resume

I just got an application sent from a Juno email address (apparently they’re still around), and the way they cover costs for their free accounts is by including ads.  That your recipient will see.  And judging by the one I got, they’re on a par with the “Ellen has tricked the world!” ads.  *Seriously* offputting.

Mine is from a student, so I’m not going to hold it too much against her, but if we do hire her, I’m going to tell her to not to use that email in any professional correspondence in her life ever, ever again.

Agreed. Y’all, sending advertisements to your interviewer is a very bad idea. Free email accounts without ads abound; get and use one of those.

{ 480 comments… read them below }

  1. Sara M

    I think you mean “employees” in #2, which I mention because it changes the meaning.

    I was really hoping the first question would be: Asking to work 20% cooler hours. :)

    1. NutellaNutterson

      I’d like the same job, but 20% cooler.

      I wonder what Rainbow Dash would be like as a manager…

  2. Mike C.

    The manager in #4 is coming across as creepy and incredibly controlling regarding who his or her ex spends time with. Isn’t controlling who a current or former partner is allowed to spend time with is a huge red flag for an abusive relationship?

    And yeah, there are a ton of divorcees at work, and when they have to work together or work with people who are now with their ex, they suck it up and act like professionals.

    1. MK

      My reading was not that the boss wants to control who his ex sees, but who his employee has close contact with. While I do think the request is inappropriatein any case, considering this is an ex, it might be understandable under certain circumstances. If the boss is going through a messy divorce, it’s not crazy that he doesn’t want to deal one his ex’s pals every day on the job or he might be afraid his personal matters will become known at work. There is too little information in the letter.

      Frankly, it strikes either as a petty gesture of making the OP choose sides or a lack of trust in the OP’s professionalism.

      1. Purple Dragon

        “he might be afraid his personal matters will become known at work.”

        That’s what my first thought was, rather than anything nefarious. I can see how it would be really uncomfortable for the boss.

        However – a caveat – how long ago was the divorce/breakup ? If it’s really recent / currently ongoing then I can understand, but if it was a while ago then it becomes a bit strange.

        And how does the boss know that the OP is friendly with the ex ? Is the OP is turning up to work saying “I hung out with your ex on the weekend”. If s/he’s mentioning it in passing then maybe that’s something to reconsider keeping quiet about at work ?

        1. Purple Dragon

          Geez – I mangled the second sentence in the last paragraph – sorry – it should read “If the OP ….”

          1. Stranger than fiction

            This was my thought too but in more of a legal sense. Maybe his lawyer advised this since employee can inadvertently dispense some damaging info to the ex that has ramifications to their case.

        2. OhNo

          That was my first thought, too. Maybe he’s into some weird stuff and is afraid the ex will tell the OP, or maybe he’s just worried the ex will tell their new friend about that time he got so drunk he ran around with a lampshade on his head. Heck, maybe the EX is the one who was abusive, and the boss is trying to keep them out of their life as much as possible.

          There are a million reasons why someone might not want this situation to continue. If the OP continues to hang out with the ex (which I feel they have every right to do, if they choose), then just keep it quiet at work. Just don’t mention it, ever, not even in passing.

          1. Elizabeth West

            The OP should also avoid talking about work with the ex, IMO. Otherwise, she might find herself square in the middle of the situation, which is even more uncomfortable than this must be right now.

      2. Mike C.

        I’m not sure I see a difference between preventing someone from attending time with an ex, and preventing and ex from spending time with someone else.

        The fact that the someone else here is an employee seems coincidental to me. I’m no expert, but I do remember that isolating behaviour is a really bad sign. That’s the sort of thing abusers and cults are known for.

        1. Zillah

          I’m no expert, but I do remember that isolating behaviour is a really bad sign. That’s the sort of thing abusers and cults are known for.

          It is, but… I don’t think we have enough information to know that that’s what’s going on. Sure, this could be part of a larger pattern of behavior, but it could also be the boss not wanting a messy breakup to seep into workplace dynamics with his employee or give his ex potential ammunition to use against him in legal proceedings.

          Just because abusers and cults are known for something doesn’t mean that any sign of it ever, whatever the magnitude, is a huge red flag. I’ve certainly had close friends or family members ask me to keep some distance from their exes for awhile; they weren’t trying to isolate their ex, and I don’t see any indication that they did isolate their ex.

            1. LBK

              I think “red flag” is too strong when there are myriad other reasonable explanations that don’t point to abuse. Calling something a red flag still requires considering context first.

              1. MsM

                Besides, for all we know, it’s the ex who’s abusive and the boss who doesn’t want her using coworkers to try and get to him.

        2. Lee

          I think it’s exceedingly coincidental — for crying out loud, people have written in about the awkward and sometimes sensitive dynamics of choosing a pet sitter when a manager-subordinant relationship might have ripplws outside the professional realm. Among so many other not-good things that could come of this, I do not see how OP isn’t even wondering whether he’s just being used to irritate the manager and as a weapon to keep that other relationship and its drama front and center.

        3. Remy

          Why do you think it’s a coincidence that they’re dating? I’ve certainly spent hours listening to my partner talk about her thoughts on the people above and below her at work, and have met many of them. Many partners know exactly who would push their partners’ buttons to show interest in, etc. But that’s an aside.

      3. LBK

        Frankly, it strikes either as a petty gesture of making the OP choose sides or a lack of trust in the OP’s professionalism.

        I don’t see it as forcing someone to take sides – you are always on the side of your manager by default, by nature of working for them and having a vested interest in preserving that relationship. As for lack of trust in professionalism…eh, I’m less worried about the OP purposely digging up dirt and more unintentionally learning things about the manager she shouldn’t know. Once some cats are out of the bag it’s hard to ignore them, no matter how professional you are.

    2. A Dispatcher

      If it’s a very nasty divorce/split, I can see not necessarily wanting your employee to be friends with your ex, particularly if she may be venting ir badmouthing you. Hopefully OP would simply say, “hey Jane, Bob is still my boss so I shouldn’t really be discussing personal matters about him with you” or something like that, but from the very short letter we have no idea what the relationships between OP and the ex is like, how long they’ve been friends, or even how long OP has been an employee.

      I’m not saying it’s cool to try to contol who your employees (or your exes) talk to, but I can see the impluse.

    3. the magnalock was proving a good investment

      #4: I especially enjoyed Alison’s appeal to common sense in her answer. “Will Superman be angry if I pull on his cape?” “Will the Lone Ranger get mad if I snatch his mask off of his face?” “What will happen if I spit into the wind?” I’m in a very Jim Croce mood tonight.

        1. De Minimis

          I got a fortune once that said “Never Spit Against the Wind,” but gave no advice on dealing with Superman, the Lone Ranger, or Jim….

          1. Audiophile

            Well that’s just common sense, at this point isn’t it?

            Side note: I always got a chuckle out of kids (mostly boys) who would spit into the wind on a fast moving bus, as a kid.

    4. INTP

      On the other hand, the ex could be the controlling one here, inserting themselves into the other ex’s life by dating or befriending coworkers when the boss just wants to move on. In any case I think the ex and subordinate were not being very discreet about it if the boss knows about it in the first place.

      1. OhNo

        I’m glad I’m not the only one who thought that the ex might be the odd one in this situation. Does anyone else find it odd that the ex would be friends with one of their former partner’s employees? Maybe it’s totally normal, but that just struck me as something weird that I would never (deliberately) do.

        (I’m assuming, of course, that the ex knows the OP is an employee of their former partner and knows that the relationship might need to have some strict boundaries because of that. If not, then OP should tell them! Right away!)

        1. Kyrielle

          It also depends – did they know each other before? Did OP find out about the job opening because boss’s ex mentioned it to them, and they applied? Have they been friends for years, maybe even decades, and now are supposed to stop interacting because of the divorce?

          Or did boss’s ex reach out to OP post-divorce (or not long before the divorce), when OP was already working for boss?

          In the first case, boss is being unreasonable. In the second case, OP should drop that connection like a hot (possibly radioactive) potato.

          1. Dynamic Beige

            Plus some people are resentful and hold grudges, which of course prevents them from fully moving on but that’s beside the point. I can see how it would be hurtful that your ex has moved on to someone you’re managing/in your employ — beyond the potential for said person to learn all kinds of things they do not want to know about their boss (or use for blackmail, YMMV). It may be a bit tone-deaf on the part of the employee if they knew this person was their boss’ ex going in, but it’s also kind of passive-aggressive on the part of the ex “I’m going to spend time and be happy with this person and you’re going to have to watch it.” While the gender of the LW is not described (is the LW a woman and this is a friendship?) I do not think it would be fun to be managing your children’s new stepparent or signing off for vacation for the person who is about to marry your ex-wife. It’s also possible that it was simply a “we met at a bar/book club and honestly didn’t know we were connected in this way until we were better acquainted.”

            I think that if this situation is so upsetting to the LW that they needed to write in and ask, it’s time to sit down and figure out what is more important to them, their job or this new connection. If it’s their job, then yes they are going to have to drop the connection. If it’s the connection, it’s time to dust off the résumé and start looking for a new job. I don’t think the boss is overreaching here, it’s not a general “I don’t want you hanging out with any of those [insert racial/ethnic/sexual orientation slur here]”, it’s a specific request about a specific person. If the LW and the boss weren’t boss/employee but just friends out in the world on an even footing with each other, this would fall under the category of “Bro Code” or something along those lines, or the friendship would dissolve as people chose which half of the couple they wanted to continue to remain friends with.

          2. INTP

            Yeah, I was imagining that the ex and subordinate had started to date. That might be grey area, but I think it’s reasonable to expect employees to conduct their romantic lives in a way that doesn’t cause drama at work, and in the very least to be discreet about dating coworkers’ exes. If it was a situation where everyone was friends and now the boss wants all subordinates to dump the ex as a friend, that would be unreasonable.

      2. C Average

        This is what I thought, too. If I were the boss, I’d be thinking, “For crying out loud, Ex! There are billions of people in this world and you MUST become besties with my colleague? Really?” And I’d have similar thoughts toward the colleague: “Really? You really cannot meet your friendship needs with some of the many, many people to whom I did NOT used to be married?”

        1. KarenT

          I assumed the friendship started before the divorce, but I guess we don’t know for sure either way.

        1. INTP

          But initiating the relationship doesn’t always take two. It’s certainly possible for someone who doesn’t want to allow someone else out of their life to seek out people in proximity to them to date or befriend to force the issue – because then the victim looks controlling if they try to stop it. And the third parties may have no idea what’s going on.

    5. LBK

      Wow, I profoundly and completely disagree. I honestly don’t think it’s that unreasonable – the ex-wife is likely privy to all kinds of things that an employee shouldn’t know about a manager and depending on how contentious the divorce was, she may have incentive to spill those things. I’d be slightly uncomfortable with an employee being friends with my current spouse, never mind an ex.

      I’m baffled that you don’t see how the fact that it’s an employee makes a huge difference vs. controlling which of his friends can speak to his ex-wife. A manager/employee relationship is less flexible and has higher stakes than a friendship, plus there’s a required boundary around access to each other’s personal life.

      From an employee perspective, I also don’t think it’s smart. If the friendship with the ex-wife ends up coloring how she sees the manager…she still has to go in and work for him every day. For the same reason that you shouldn’t be friends with your boss, I don’t think you should be friends with someone that close to your boss.

      1. majigail

        Agree with you LBK. The ex-wife can really poison the work pot. I’d be incredibly uncomfortable if one of my employees were hanging out with an ex-boyfriend let alone an ex-spouse.
        Also, it’s all in the way it’s asked. Prohibit is a strong word, but we don’t know if from the boss, it’s was a request, demand or just a cold shoulder after finding out.
        Finally, politically, this is a bad move for the employee. Unless you and the ex are best of friends, you have far more to lose in this than either your boss or the ex does.

        1. LBK

          Agreed that the way the request was made makes a big difference. If it was a “I’d prefer if you didn’t see her given that we work together,” that’s not the same as “I will fire you if I find out you speak to Jane again.”

        2. Laurel Gray

          Totally agree. I’m not hanging out with a boss’ ex.

          Day to day we have way more personal life options than career ones.

      2. Mike C.

        Do you folks go around and interfere in the lives of your exes? Like, do you actually prevent them from dating certain people you don’t approve of for various reasons?

        That’s what this manager is doing, and it’s terrible behavior.

        1. Kat M

          No, the manager is trying to keep the personal and professional separate. It’s reasonable to not want your subordinate involved with your ex-that’s COI territory.

        2. MK

          But the boss is interfering in the life of their employee, not their ex. You seem to be fixated on the ex, which I find odd, since it was the employee who wrote, dealing with it as a workplace matter.

        3. Chriama

          I don’t think there’s enough evidence to conclude that that’s what this manager is doing, though. I think we all agree that a boss shouldn’t try to control their employees like that because of the power differential in employer-employee relationships, but an employee should also be aware of the impact their actions could have. What if it turns out that the ex is the unreasonable one here, or you just inadvertently hear about things that make it hard for you to work with your boss? I don’t see why this needs to be interpreted as the manager trying to isolate their ex rather than a manager trying to keep their personal and professional lives separate. There just isn’t enough evidence to conclude either way.

    6. Xanthippe Lannister Voorhees

      If we’re speculating down this road, perhaps it was the ex who was the abusive one. I certainly requested that my friends stop associating with my abusive ex, and even went as far as to ask my (then) manager to not allow him in the small store I worked.

      I think it is more likely that the employee brought up seeing the ex to the manager, and having to hear about it made the manager feel uncomfortable and thus the request was made. Though I think “I don’t want to hear about it/have this conversation” is a more reasonable request than “don’t spend time with her” if a close friendship/romantic relationship developed that could be very problematic.

      1. Mike C.

        The ex isn’t the one who is deciding for other people who they are and aren’t allowed to date simply based on the fact that they dated them first.

  3. Ann Furthermore

    #1: I think the only way this would be a good idea so early on is if the company is struggling financially, so they could pay you less. Otherwise, I would leave this alone. You’ve only been there a month, and you’re still establishing yourself.

    If, in the first month of employment, I had a new employee who (like you) had to leave early once because of bad weather, and take a sick day, I wouldn’t be too worked up about it. If your kids’ school closes early, there’s not a whole lot you can do about it, and it’s not like you can tell them to just wait until you get there. And people get sick, and I’d rather have someone with a stomach virus stay home than come into the office and spread it around.

    But if, in the first month, a new employee said they wanted to cut their hours by 20%, I would be pretty dismayed. After putting in all the time to interview candidates, check references, put together an offer, and all the rest of it, I would immediately wonder how badly that person really wanted the job, and also wonder if I should have gone with another candidate.

    If you’re friendly with any of the people who have this arrangement, it’s worth asking them about it, how they got approval to do it, how long they’d been with the company before making that proposal, and so on. At that point you can come up with a plan/approach that you can pitch to your manager when the time feels right. Alison said at least 6 months, but I’d probably even wait a year. That will give you enough time to become familiar with your job and responsibilities, and also to form a strong relationship with your manager.

    1. Adam

      Agreed. Asking to work 80% of FTE is probably something you would negotiate at the start of the job if you had the industry experience and reputation to justify it. Otherwise I’d wait a good long while before broaching the subject with my manager if at all. At 5 weeks there’s no telling how the job picks up from month to month, and asking about this big a schedule change this early is likely only going to make your manager twitch.

      1. MK

        I think this is the most concerning part: the OP hasn’t been on the job long enough to know that she can do the required work in 32 hours. She believes that she can, but this claim isn’t going to be very convincing from someone who has only been there for 5 weeks.

        1. AntherHRPro

          I agree. It is a really is a big deal for the OP to ask their manager to work 20% less. Especially as a new employee. The OP is still learning a new job and is likely not to be performing at full capacity for at least 6 months, if not longer. As a manager, would hear a request like this as my newly hired and recruited employee isn’t fully dedicated to the job and while they aren’t at full capacity yet, they will now be getting even less done. This means that the manager will need to figure out where that other 20% of the OP’s job needs to go. The OP would essentially giving their new manager a problem to deal with.

    2. Elizabeth the Ginger

      From the letter, it’s not quite clear to me that the OP is proposing 80% time for 80% pay – it almost sounds like they’re suggesting just paring down the hours. If so, that seems pretty naive.

      1. Oryx

        I actually wondered about that, too — pay doesn’t get mentioned. I would hope the OP doesn’t want to work 80% hours for the same pay.

      2. Aunt Vixen

        Yeah – joining the Obvious Chorus, in my experience people who work .8 FTE get paid .8 of a full-time salary as well. I’ve known people for whom the day off every week was worth a 20% pay cut, but I’ve never yet been one of them.

      3. Ama

        Yeah, I’d be in favor of talking to the employees already on this schedule — they have to be giving something up in return — if not pay, then perhaps vacation days or other benefits. Or maybe the OP is mistaken and they have negotiated one work from home day.

        1. Oryx

          +1

          Just because the OP doesn’t see them working at the office doesn’t mean they aren’t working elsewhere.

    3. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

      Everything you said with an emphasis on this:

      After putting in all the time to interview candidates, check references, put together an offer, and all the rest of it, I would immediately wonder how badly that person really wanted the job, and also wonder if I should have gone with another candidate.

      It’s happened to us more than once and it’s a Bad Sign. A new person asking for significant schedule adjustment/reduction says “I can’t do the job you hired me to do”. If they could do the job as hired, they wouldn’t be asking for big changes.

      We’re able to offer long term employees creative schedules because we know them and they know the business. I probably have more than a dozen employees working frankenstein schedules, some from creative locations. (Key employee the other month said, “um, my family decided we’re moving to the west coast”. We blinked and then took 10 seconds to say “okay, so, we’ll restructure your job, what would you like to do, and let’s get all that telecommute equipment ordered up for you now”. We’re a bit like the stalker boyfriend that way.)

      All of these people started with normal schedule jobs they worked for years. They learned the business, they proved themselves rock solid key and dependable.

      Anyway, to the OP, you may be over stressing about the days that you missed or had to change for the kids. The opposite of everything I said above is that whether it is somebody’s first week or 10th year, it’s normal for snow to interrupt availability. Needing flexibility on an exceptional day is way different from asking for an entire schedule reduction.

      1. I am now a llama

        From the many posts I’ve seen from you, you seem like a great manager to work for! I’ve seen many managers of sales team really abuse their employees so it’s great to see such a flexible employer. Kudos to you!!

        1. The Office Admin

          +1,000,000
          Someday I’m going to find out who Wakeen’s Teapots Ltd. is and go work for them.
          At the very least, you give me hope for finding a really great manager to work for!

        2. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

          Eh, honestly, I’m not Gandhi or Mother Teresa. I’m just sane and I value people who do a good job and work hard/efficiently for us. It’s in our self interest. Good employees who mesh with our culture do not grow on trees and I can’t do all the damn work myself. :)

          1. Me

            Well that attitude is pretty rare IME. Many employers around here think good employees do grow on trees, and that those trees can be cut down and others will sprout up in their place. >:(

            1. Ann Furthermore

              Yep, I’ve seen that too. My experience is with Accounts Payable people. The perception is that because it’s “just” data entry, they’re a dime a dozen. Not true. You need someone who can not only do accurate data entry and not get bored, but is also able to look at things with a critical eye and make a call about whether or not the invoice is being booked to the right account, or if something about it seems off and doesn’t pass the sniff test. That’s a hard combination of skills to find.

              1. Beancounter in Texas

                As a bookkeeper who also has to deal with people who think payables is “just paying the bills,” I appreciate your distinction. To your skills listed above, I’d also include streamlining the process for efficiency (but I value that in every job).

              2. RidingNerdy

                I’d add that they also have to be able to professionally navigate sometimes nasty vendor calls! Good AP folks are hard to come by.

          2. LBK

            I’m just sane and I value people who do a good job and work hard/efficiently for us. It’s in our self interest.

            I think you underestimate how infrequently people link those two concepts together – that treating people well is a business decision, not something you do out of the kindness of your heart. There’s more to making good decisions for the company than controlling numbers you can log in a spreadsheet.

            1. AdAgencyChick

              a) true and b) you also seem to be a good manager surrounded by other sane people. Sometimes a manager wants to find creative ways to keep a great employee happy but upper management won’t budge on putting things into a predetermined box, and it sounds like Wakeen’s Teapots is a place where that doesn’t happen. I want to work there too!

            2. Adam

              +a million. Some managers are apathetic. Some are intent on making your life miserable. I’ve worked for both, and neither one is fun.

    4. LBK

      Yeah, I think step #1 is definitely asking those people about their arrangement. OP seems to be making the assumption that they’re getting paid the same and that they weren’t specifically hired to work that amount of hours vs. the OP being hired to work FT. Make sure you fully understand the situation before you do anything.

    5. Not Today Satan

      When I was at my last job for a year, I asked to switch to 4 days/32 hours. I thought they would let me (because the company was in bad financial shape and laying some people off) but they didn’t. =\

    6. INTP

      Plus the OP would bring more scrutiny on herself for any extra PTO or leaving early (or not working late). Right now a manager’s reaction to a sick day or kid’s snow day might be to acknowledge that life happens and think no more of it. But after a request to work 80%, every instance might be filed away as evidence that OP can’t handle a full time job.

    7. OP

      Thanks very much for the responses and your perspectives. At my previous job, I was paid hourly, so it was easy to leave “early” if a child was sick–I just didn’t get paid for it, which is fair. This new job is salaried, and it’s a big deal to leave early. All of our schedules are publicly posted, and the folks who work 80% have “80%” next to their names, so you are right I could just ask them how they got those schedules. (There is a company policy that 80% is an option, but I wasn’t sure how it would be perceived to ask so early, so thanks for your thoughts.) It’s just a different corporate culture; my last job was really fast-paced and deadline-oriented–people loved you if you got the job done on time, but this new place is slow and plodding with lots of meetings, excessive down time, and no deadlines. It’s driving me a little crazy, as I get my work done then have to go around looking for more things to do, which there often isn’t. But I suppose it wouldn’t be appropriate to tell my boss our entire department should be getting our work done a lot quicker!

      1. Zahra

        No, but you could ask for more work, new projects, etc.

        Also, have they transferred all the tasks they want to you do? If there’s anything still to be transferred, ask for more training, try to get more informed about the company, the field if it’s new, etc.

  4. Angela

    After just 5 weeks, I’d be really careful about being certain that others are only working 32 hours a week. I work from home every Monday/Tuesday, and then work 6-10 hour days onsite Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. What people don’t see (unless they are part of the team I am emailing) is that I work 20+ hours over the course of Monday/Tuesday to meet tight weekly deadlines for our team. It would be easy for someone who isn’t in the loop on my schedule to assume I’m part-time since they only see me part-time, when in reality I work 50-60 hours every week.

    1. jamlady

      +1

      I had a coworker who worked Tuesday-Saturday because he had personal things on Mondays. Though I never cared, I didn’t find out until about 2.5 months in because it was mentioned in passing.

    2. JAL

      +1. One of the perks of my job is being able to enjoy a flexible schedule and being able to work from home, which has been useful due to some recent health issues. I work 40+ hours a week (depending on the overtime availability) but most weeks, they aren’t all in the office. I could see how I could give the impression that I am a part time worker but I’m not.

    3. QAT Contractor

      Agreed. It’s a perception deal. Is OP1 assuming a 32 hour week because they only see everyone 4 of the 5 days a week? Or are the other employees actually saying they only work 32 hours? It’s a big difference.

      This whole situation sounds to me like a case of entitlement that seems to be the ‘hip new thing’ that’s strangling our nation. Not everyone, but a significant portion of the people I meet feel like the world owes them everything for doing nothing. It’s not like it used to be even 20 years ago where working hard to get additional perks was the norm.

      I’m not saying the OP specifically has a sense of entitlement, but if they were to ask me to work 80% after only 5 week (hell even after a year or two) I’d be seeing flags start to popup. Granted, after 2 years those flags might be fewer or less alarming but as Wakeen said, the person was hired for full time, not part time.

      1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

        Eh, I think your generalization is a stretch. Especially when pay has been stagnant and hours worked (for people who are employed) have gone up.

        I think what IS true, and might be mistaken for entitlement, is that we’re experiencing a cultural shift toward flexibility in work, for better or worse. Better: Flex schedules, telecommuting, improving maternity leave policies. Worse: Fewer long-term commitments (of companies to employees, and as a result from employees to companies), difficulty detaching from work, responding to emails at 10 pm on your smart phone.

      2. nona

        “This whole situation sounds to me like a case of entitlement that seems to be the ‘hip new thing’ that’s strangling our nation. Not everyone, but a significant portion of the people I meet feel like the world owes them everything for doing nothing. It’s not like it used to be even 20 years ago where working hard to get additional perks was the norm.”

        Could you explain? I was a kid 20 years ago, so I haven’t seen this change. I have mostly seen what the recession did to my generation’s belief that a stable job (never mind additional perks) could be expected. Assuming you are from the US?

        1. Green

          It’s also a “hip new thing” to have to answer e-mail after hours and essentially be expected to be on-call at all hours. As work life intrudes more on home life (and as gender roles change), employees (of all ages) want more flexibility on face-time and meeting the needs they have outside of work. This employee should have asked for that up front or should wait, but it’s not some “entitlement” thing.

          1. Bend & Snap

            YEP. If I’m on the phone with Singapore at 10pm, I don’t expect to be nickel and dimed for an 8:30 start the next day, for example.

            I work during my personal time, and am lucky to have a boss who understands that flexibility is needed, and doesn’t care where or when I do my work as long as it gets done.

            1. Cassie

              This – one coworker is jealous that some of us have flexible hours (shifted start-times, work from home, etc), but what she doesn’t realize is that sometimes we have to work weekends or late evenings to meet deadlines. (9am Monday morning deadline? Ugh!) My boss lets me have flexibility in my hours because he knows there will be deadlines or last-minute stuff that needs to be taken care. And telecons with people in other time zones.

          2. QAT Contractor

            The 24 hour availability thing is ridiculous. I know it’s happening more and more in the US (has been for a long time in Japan from my understanding).

            Face-time is a big thing in most industries still. I do a lot of remote work due to having clients all over the US and not being able to travel to them all the time. I’ve even worked with ‘off shore’ companies where our hours only overlap for about 1 hour a day and usually at a time that isn’t my normal schedule. It does allow for some flexibility, but it’s something that get’s worked out with my managers that not all other employees are privy to.

            I do feel this is entitlement because the OP has been there 5 weeks and never though about working 32 hours a week instead of 40 until AFTER seeing everyone else doing it and then deciding they should be able to do the same.

            1. nona

              I agree that this sounds like some entitlement from LW. Working 32 hours instead of 40 translates to a day off every week to me.

              1. Green

                But also for 80% of pay. It’s the same thing as asking for a raise right after starting a job. You negotiate up front or you prove your value first and hold it for a bit.

                1. QAT Contractor

                  If it were to be 80% for 80% that’s different, though still hard to do this early in the career. I agree that should have been done up front if it is the case.

                  However, I don’t see anywhere that it states this was the case, just that the employee wanted to work 80%. My assumption, based on my experience and job, would be this means working 80% and being paid 100%.

                  Either way, it’s way too early to ask imo.

                2. Tinker

                  Personally, given how prevalent reduced-hours arrangements are that involve a proportional reduction in salary, I likely would have made a similar statement to what the OP did because I would have thought that “and 80% pay” was so obvious that it didn’t need to be stated.

                  Granted that the OP might come back and clarify that yes, they did specifically mean that they wanted to be paid more for doing less work, I don’t think it’s appropriate to invent a position for them in an area upon which they are silent and then attribute poor character to them for having that position. For that matter, I don’t actually think it would be a bad question to ask if it were definitely being asked — in general being paid more for a given duration and effort of work and having more desirable work arrangements is a legitimate desire, and it is reasonable to ask how to achieve it even if getting there will take some time and effort.

                  Also: How is it that the OP is meant to know when and how it is appropriate to pursue an alternative work arrangement if asking a person who has made it their job to give advice on workplace issues — this being the thing that the OP has done — purportedly reflects poorly on their character?

      3. anon23

        you sound like you’re generalizing young adults/ millenials (me).

        it’s not the “new hip thing” that’s “strangling our nation”. I see it as a benefit of the job. salary = x, healthcare benefit = y, and oh yeah you can have a flexible schedule. depending on who you are that could make the deal. (i.e. some people would take a pay cut to have a more flexible schedule. i definitely would).

        i don’t think this is limited to the newer generation because we “feel like the world owes them everything for doing nothing”. for example: my mom took a lower paying job when we were younger to have more flexibilty to be with us. is it because of her “case of entitlement”?

        FWIW, i have YET to meet a person my age who has a sense of entitlement about jobs. most of them are grateful just to HAVE a job. have seen the entitlement in the older generation, though.

        just something to think about.

        1. QAT Contractor

          I didn’t make it totally clear, but my reference to entitlement wasn’t just about employment, it was meant to encompass many situations and not just be directed at millenials.

          The people that I have come across that give off this sense range from teenagers to mid-fourtys mostly.

          Your mom taking a lower paying job for more flexibility is not entitlement. That’s sacrificing income to be with family (which likely saved money on baby sitters/other things). In the work place, entitlement is when a person wants to only work 32 hours in a week, but gets paid 40 (just an example).

          Do I want good insurance, good pay, flexible hours, other benefits? Hell yes! Who doesn’t? :-)
          But the more a person wants, the more they have to work for it either through experience or school/training. The flexible hours are usually only earned after proving you are capable and reliable. Some places give flexibility freely and the employees find out the hard way when they abuse it, others excel and move up quickly.

          1. Anonsie

            But that’s the thing– the LW is wondering if this is a regular arrangement that is, in fact, offered freely, and wants to know how to find out if it is or what she’d need to do to get there if it’s not. It’s more than reasonable to want to know what the arrangements are in a new office and which are available to you.

          2. Green

            Every 80% hours arrangement I’ve seen comes with 80% pay. What’s entitled about that? And, please, stop the silly age stereotyping, even if you broaden your range to the 40s.

            1. QAT Contractor

              Age stereotyping? I’m refering to the way things have become. The age of people will come into factor by default when comparing things from the 1920s to the 2000s.

              And I’ve never said that it was all people between the age ranges, not did I indicate there weren’t outliers. My point was just about the range of ages that I tend to see the results from the most.

              Every 80% for 80% arrangement that you have seen is your experience. I have never worked with or known someone who setup this type of arrangement. What I have experienced are people that want more than they are willing to work for (or work less for the same amount) and demanding they get what someone else has because “it’s not fair” otherwise.

              1. Green

                If you’ve never heard of an 80% for 80% arrangement (or other part-time arrangements), then why are you commenting authoritatively about the “entitlement” of OP?

                If a significant portion of the people you meet seem like they want money for doing nothing, then you might be projecting onto people or assuming too much.

      4. Artemesia

        The idea that entitlement is strangling our nation seems to ignore the policies that intentionally leave people unemployed and underemployed and make sure all of the profits on the 400% increase in productivity over the past decades go entirely (literally so) to the very top leaving everyone else behind where they were 25-30 years ago. The greatest success of the plutocrats is convincing the average American that it is her fault she isn’t doing better economically.

        1. QAT Contractor

          I’m going to disagree with your assessment.

          Yes, there are policies that are totally out of whack and do cater to the 1%. Yes, there are many reasons that unemployment and underemployment exist and are NOT the fault of the person that is suffering those categories.

          What I don’t agree with is how much entitlement plays into this. Everyone is entitled to be employed and should be treated fairly based on their skills, knowledge and drive for improvement. What I see happening is more people wanting to be paid but not actually wanting to work.

          1. Green

            LOL. “Everyone is entitled to be employed” — that is not an actual entitlement we have.

            1. QAT Contractor

              Entitlement: the condition of having a right to have, do, or get something

              Everyone has the right to have a job, do a job, or get a job. It is an entitlement we have.

              1. Green

                Where do you get that right from? Everyone can seek a job (not sure it’s a “right”), but they do not have the right to any particular job or any job at all.

              2. Ask a Manager Post author

                Not legally, there isn’t. Do you mean from a moral perspective? The problem with that statement is that if everyone is entitled to a job, is a particular employer obligated to give it to them? How would that work?

    4. Ann Furthermore

      That’s a very good point, I didn’t think of that. It could be that those people work from home once a week, or work different hours to get to their 40 hours a week.

    5. nona

      I’ve mentioned this here before, but I’m the only person who has to be in the office from X time to Y time. My coworkers work 40+ hours and I see maybe half or two thirds of that.

  5. Student

    #4 – If your boss’s ex-wife is a fellow employee, and you work in the private sector int he US, then the NLRA makes it illegal for your employer to bar you from hanging out with his ex-wife under fairly broad circumstances. It’s meant to protect unionization efforts. If you and boss’s ex-wife discuss workplace conditions – like, by complaining about the boss – that’s a protected meeting.

    You’re still committing career suicide by doing this, but you might be able to deeply annoy the boss before you get fired, or win a small settlement after you get fired.

    1. jamlady

      I wish there was more info on OP4 – I initially read this one like he was growing close in a dating sense to his boss’ ex and I was thinking “whyyy are you doing that?!”

      Illegal or not, I wish we had more information to comment on whether or not we think it is a good idea haha

      1. Mike C.

        If we’re going this hypothetical route, why would the ex-wife need to be an employee? Say, she’s a union rep instead. Or someone who’s just interested in hearing me vent about how work is going. Wouldn’t those count?

        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          Venting to a non-coworker isn’t covered by the NLRA, so no, it would be legal to prohibit that / Student’s statement wouldn’t apply there.

    2. Dan

      See, from a legal standpoint, I’d just invoke the at will employment clause and say, “gee, sorry things aren’t working out.”

      1. LBK

        The at-will clause doesn’t allow you to fire people for illegal reasons/create illegal policies and then fire people for violating them.

        1. Omne

          True but it does allow them to fire people for any other whim they come up with. “I don’t like the color of your car so you’re fired”. As the courts have said a person can be fired for a good reason, a bad reason or for no reason at all as long as it’s not discrimination or otherwise illegal.

          Do you really think the boss couldn’t come up with something? Just because he already told the OP this doesn’t prevent him from coming up with a new reason.

          1. LBK

            If a discrimination claim occurs, you still have to prove that the underlying cause wasn’t discriminatory and in that case, the given reason will fall under scrutiny. If you want to make a rule that anyone with a blue car gets fired you’re certainly free to do that, but you have to be able to show that you didn’t make that rule to get rid of someone that you couldn’t fire for an illegal reason. It’s not as simple as saying “That wasn’t why you got fired” and having the court side with you automatically – if there were that huge a loophole then there wouldn’t even be a point in having anti-discrimination laws.

            In short, courts aren’t stupid.

            1. Omne

              Courts aren’t stupid but juries often are, but that’s another issue.

              Nothing you said really contradicts my comment. I said that in situations that are discriminatory or illegal it isn’t that simple. When I mentioned the boss coming up with something I was referring more to the hanging with the ex problem. Filing under the NLRA isn’t nearly as simple or clear cut as a discrimination claim, especially when you have, at best, a mixed motive case like this one.

  6. GrandBargain

    #2. Three weeks is not all that bad. And, I’m not so sure that it’s all that unreasonable for your company to not reimburse you for interest charges. Within a three week time frame, interest charges would only accrue if you carry a balance on your card. If you paid the card off each month, there would be no interest charges. That is, after all, your own financial decision.

    There have been a number of threads here regarding expense reimbursement and use of personal cards. Some options are: use a card that is only for business purposes and doesn’t carry a balance, ask for an advance to cover all or most of the travel cost, ask for a company card, or ask for the company to buy your plane ticket and direct bill your hotel.

    I used to travel a lot and would sometimes run up credit card balances of almost $10,000. The company was sensitive to this and did work diligently to speed up reimbursements – eventually getting the processing time to just over one week from expense report to check. Maybe that’s something you can encourage your employer to address.

    1. Just Visiting

      Nope, three weeks is not reasonable. And this comes from someone who also pays off their card every month and has never carried a balance. Don’t blame the victim.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger

        Another +1. At this point in my life I would pay it out of pocket in order to avoid finance charges, but I remember a time early in my career when even the extra $60 might have caused me to worry about groceries or rent, so there was no way I would have been able to front $2K for my employer back then.

        And the OP is not obligated to pay off their personal credit card balance off in full (even though it’s the smart thing to do) in order to save their employer money.

        1. TeapotCounsel

          “And the OP is not obligated to pay off their personal credit card balance off in full (even though it’s the smart thing to do) in order to save their employer money.”

          +1

      2. JW

        I have about 5 weeks before any interest would accrue on my cards. I’m surprised that 3 weeks was not enough time.

        But yeah, you should DEFINITELY get reimbursed. I’m just surprised that the interest happened to begin with.

        1. Dynamic Beige

          “But yeah, you should DEFINITELY get reimbursed. I’m just surprised that the interest happened to begin with.”

          I’m not. Not everyone has $2K lying around to pay off a bill like that. Credit card companies don’t care who made the purchase or what it was for or that you’re waiting for reimbursement, they only know you didn’t pay your balance off.

          The one time I disputed a charge on my card, it took two months for the credit card company to investigate it. I had always paid off my balance every month, but with this, I paid everything except the fraudulent charge — which was for an online casino and was almost $1000 — so they charged me interest on that. When they did finally go “oh yeah, you didn’t make this charge, our bad” they reversed the casino charge but not the interest so I called them on it and they claimed that the interest had been accrued due to a balance in the account, how were they to know what payments were specifically made or not made to cover what charges? So there’s that.

          1. Joline

            I assumed they were saying that due to their credit card cycles they’re surprised that three weeks wasn’t fast enough to have the cash in hand to pay it off. Mine, for example, has just over three weeks from the statement end date to when the payment is due. So even if it was the last thing on my statement I’d just squeak through with three weeks (earlier in my statement I’d be golden).

            But perhaps the OP has a shorter time period between statement end and payment.

          2. Collarbone High

            I had a similar situation where a satellite provider mistakenly billed my credit card $500 for a stranger’s installation and equipment. I also happened to be a customer, so they credited my satellite account $500. That was NOT the same thing — I had used that card to pay a hospital bill, so it had a huge balance and and it would have been about 3 years before I started paying off the mistaken satellite charge, meaning that $500 would be racking up interest for three years. I wanted the $500 credited back to the credit card, so I wouldn’t be accruing interest on a charge I didn’t make. The credit card company refused to press the issue — they said I’d been made whole by the credit to my Dish account — and the satellite company’s billing rep told me the situation was my fault for carrying a balance on my card.

    2. Elizabeth the Ginger

      “That is, after all, your own financial decision.”

      Leaving aside the issue that sometimes people might find themselves in a tight financial spot even having made good decisions but had bad luck… it wasn’t the OP’s decision to add $2000 to the balance for three weeks.

      I’m honestly not too impressed with your company being speedy about reimbursements if you were spending $10,000 of your own money within a month. IMO, if you were spending that much on work expenses, the company should have issued you a corporate credit card. I don’t mind that I buy occasional supplies on my personal card and get reimbursed $50 or so, but having the financial liquidity to even temporarily afford $10,000 shouldn’t be a prerequisite for a job.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger

        Actually, I prefer to charge business expenses to my personal card, because if I put $10K on there, I get $125 in credit card rewards, and my current employer is always prompt with reimbursements so I’ve never had to worry about finance charges anyway. But that’s my choice. I’m very cognizant of advising new employees who are on business travel for the first time that they can get a corporate card, or if they don’t, to fill out the reimbursement form the day they get back and expect the money in about a week to a week and a half. If they’ve never been reimbursed for business expenses and they don’t read blogs like this one, they may not even realize that there’s any delay for getting reimbursed.

        1. Spiky Plant

          This. I’m all about that free money from credit cards. If someone else is giving me cash, I’ll put whatevs on my card. I understand that that’s not the right solution for everyone, but dang, free money is awesome if you can get it.

        2. the gold digger

          I’m very cognizant of advising new employees who are on business travel for the first time that they can get a corporate card, or if they don’t, to fill out the reimbursement form the day they get back

          I have to use my corporate card for corporate expenses AND file an expense report for reimbursement AND send photos of the receipts, even though our expense system ties into the CC system so the charges are all visible when you log in.

          Basically, I have the worst of all worlds.

        3. frequentflyer

          Agreed. I am but a low-salaried employee but thanks to the travel expenses I rack up on business travel charged to my own credit card (hotel bookings, cashback on the bookings) I earn a couple of thousand extra every year. That is, of course, if you have cash to pay off your credit card in full before the company reimburses.

          For people who don’t have liquidity, my company will loan cash (with proper approval) for business travel purposes, to be returned after the travel period.

      2. BananaPants

        This. I don’t mind shelling out $100 for new safety shoes or running over to Home Depot to buy $50 in materials and then getting reimbursed – I am not going to put thousands of dollars of my own credit on the line to take a $15K business trip. First of all, I don’t have a single credit line that large by choice. Second, what happens if the company goes bankrupt or decides not to reimburse me? Then I’m on the hook for a very large balance, with interest. Nope, not going to happen.

        I have a corporate card and as long as the employee submits the expense report within a specific timeframe, any interest charges that accrue due to the company’s delay in paying are the responsibility of the company. So it the travel card office takes a month and a half to process the expense report, that’s not my problem. On the flip side, if the employee waits 3 months to submit the expense report then the interest charges are the employee’s responsibility (since they would not have accrued in the first place if the employee had followed policy).

    3. Merry and Bright

      Three weeks is a long time to be subsidizing your employer’s business costs – especially when you need your employer’s reimbursement to pay off the card balance in the first place.

    4. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

      Corporate Capitalist, here. (Okay, small Corporate Capitalist, but work with me on the moniker just a sec.)

      I’m fundamentally opposed to businesses floating money on their employees. As a vendor, I see all of the money float tricks and, shrug, it’s my choice to participate or not. I turned down Large Ketchup Company Begins with H the other week, because they insisted on 90+ day terms for a relatively small order, $1000 range. Really? You really have to use my vastly smaller company to float $1000 for 3 months? (And I’m sure the check would have been cut on the dot of 90.) It’s not that we don’t have the money or the process it’s the “oh, bite me” factor.

      An employee doesn’t have that power.

      I don’t think companies should rely on their employees personal cards anyway, but if they do, it’s their responsibility to carry the entire cost of the employee floating them money to begin with.

      1. BritCred

        On the dot of 90? Make that 95 at least.

        And while you are there allow for the claim that the invoice never made it to the system and there is just no way they can do anything but to resubmit it as 90 days from today instead…

        1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

          Ha, you have played their Reindeer Games I see!

          Yup, the resubmit and then 90 from that is the best, isn’t it?

          We pay an entire body to track this stuff. When we have terms out (and hospitals are the WORST), it’s her job to make sure that everything is lined up in their systems well before check cut date so we don’t get sucked into the resubmit vortex.

          She does this: All. Day. Long. God bless her.

          1. BritCred

            That used to be my job. Getting confirmation way before that date and training the companies in question in a way they knew I wouldn’t take no for an answer so they’d clear things up with me before the payment was due.

            The time I got fobbed off, with a £4ook payment turning into a £90k one when the remittance came through? I spend the next three days – two that I should have not been at work at all -sorting it out before it impacted in other areas of the business. They didn’t do it again…

            Its a fine art and I’m glad to see that you value that employee for what she does!

            1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

              Bless you too!

              Once upon a time, I was a straight commission salesperson, responsible for my own collections and responsible for the bill if the company didn’t pay so……..yep, I know what it’s about.

          2. Anon peon

            Yes, I can’t believe the Reindeer games some companies pull.

            One of my former companies was the WORST about this. They would order from Supplier A, and then pay the bill like they were supposed to. Then they would make a second (usually HUGE) order and just not pay the bill, while making even more orders. Eventually, Supplier A would cut them off because of unpaid bills, but instead of just doing the right thing and paying Supplier A, they would instead turn around and play the same game over with Supplier B. Then only when Supplier B cut them off would they turn around and pay Supplier A the money they owed from 6 months ago or more.

            The worst part? They did this with lots of suppliers, but the main one was supplying cans. And we were a paint company. Luckily, our sales were mostly not in cans, but larger containers. But all the R&D employees would have to find something else to keep ourselves busy for a week or more, because you can’t make any paint to do the “R” part of R&D without cans to make and store it in.

            It was ridiculous – I’m so glad to have moved on from that place. Oh, and they also played the credit card games like the OP mentioned, taking weeks to process employees reimbursements because they required multiple signatures that all got held up sitting on bigwigs desks for days to weeks at a time.

            OP, if you start to notice a lack in basic supplies that take weeks to restock – run, because taking 3 weeks to process a reimbursement check can be a sign that its only the tip of the iceberg.

            1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

              We defacto turned down a $90,000 order about 6 months ago because we suspected we were Supplier B, C or D in that scenario. Did not smell right. A $90,000 order does not come out of the blue and there was no reason for us to be the vendor of choice on this product. Even though the corporate credit rating was fine, something was up, and we suspected their normal sources had cut them off for non or slow payment.

              We politely requested a 50% deposit to begin the order, with the rest on terms, and after a few exchanges, they dropped off the planet.

            2. BritCred

              “OP, if you start to notice a lack in basic supplies that take weeks to restock – run, because taking 3 weeks to process a reimbursement check can be a sign that its only the tip of the iceberg.”

              Yep – run if you see this. Or you get reasons that you don’t have stock etc that dont ring true – they are probably being held to ransom over payments of prior invoices.

          3. Ama

            Honestly, I think half of my stress level from my last job (I was an admin at a large university) was staying on top of our Accounts Payable department, which was overworked, understaffed, and had designed all of its base systems and policies 40 years earlier when the entire school was on one campus and international payments were rare (neither of which were true of my department). I felt so bad every time one of their byzantine policies hung up a payment, particularly when I was doing a lot of work with freelancers that were dependent on us paying on time.

            Their favorite trick was instituting new policies effective on X date, and enforcing it with no exceptions, but not bothering to send around a memo announcing said policy until 3 months later. It was like working in a Kafka story.

          4. Chinook

            “We pay an entire body to track this stuff. When we have terms out (and hospitals are the WORST), it’s her job to make sure that everything is lined up in their systems well before check cut date so we don’t get sucked into the resubmit vortex. ”

            As somebody who is a middleman in this scheme in a large company, how do you make sure you don’t get stuck in the vortex? I need more tricks and/or a longer poking stick.

            Our company won’t pay until the cheque run 30 days after the date on the invoice (atleast it is not based on the date received by A/P) and even then it could be held up by people in a different country who don’t like how an invoice looks (i.e. name on the invoice has changed position – true story). I try to kick invoices loose that get stuck in the bureacratic machinery but even the cheque for my services has been known to be 2 weeks late because of “issues.”

            1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

              Ergh, well, she’s not always successful but the idea is making sure the paperwork has all of the approvals and is sitting in system in queue for check cut time.

              We don’t even bother in the first 30 days. She starts after 30 days, making sure somebody has the invoice, understanding who needs to approve what, making sure the signoffs are received, making sure we are entered in for the check run on (whatever date), following up to make sure we made it in that run, etc.

              Our goal is get paid in 60 to 90, no matter the terms (30, 60 or 90).

              Not much help, sorry. :(

            1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

              Ha.

              Some of them are great. End users with purchasing cards up to $10,000 a day, covering our bread and butter orders. We’re very happy to pay cc fees to avoid collection hell. Happy end users because orders move quickly, happy us ’cause we get our cash.

              Some of them are annoying but okay. Slow pay on terms, a little bit of paperwork hassle, we get the money eventually. Less happy end users because of purchasing delays, less happy us because more work to get cash.

              Some of them are the pits of hell. We’ve been told “sorry, we time our payments out to the average collection time it takes us to collect from our patients. right now that time is running XX days. ” Like that’s my problem. It’s a lousy $527 invoice. You charge that for an aspirin.

              The delay tactics + attitude in a pit of hell hospital are astounding. You can lose my invoice how many times? You are doing me a favor by giving me business which I can’t get paid for exactly how?

              We gave up on $1000 range invoice recently after about 9 months because the hospital was insisting it was paid and closed out in their system and there was nothing that could be done. Except, not only wasn’t it paid, they couldn’t offer any proof of payment and seemed to believe there was no reason they should offer proof. One of those “it says right here on my computer we paid it, so it’s paid, nothing I can do”.

              I don’t know where those end users are able to buy. We of course cut off the non pays or the this last one was too painful, cc only from now on ones. The end users in those places never have p cards they can buy on. (I hope they don’t put stuff on their own cc for reimbursement because you know that’s not coming back to them.)

              I guess eventually they run out of places they can buy from and somebody else buys the hospital system and they start all over again.

      2. jhhj

        One job we got a new client who sold beer, and their terms for any size order were 180 days. But my company decided that the chance of significant business was worth it.

        They also had all sorts of rules about alcohol at work for anyone who had access to the production floor (= everyone, you could just walk in), which were honoured more in the Friday afternoon drinks for office staff than in the observance.

        It occurs to me I have worked for a lot of places that served a lot of alcohol at work.

      3. Catherine in Canada

        Sigh. Yes.
        I’m small business owner, working as a full time contractor for a multinational. It’s a tight market in this city and I’m happy to have the work. But.
        They state “Net 45” on their purchase orders to me, but treat it as a guideline rather than a promise. At quarter end, it can be 60 days, at year-end it can be as much as 100 days. The people I work for directly apologize profusely, but there’s nothing they can do; AP is in another country.
        Since I also sub-contract other people to the same company, and make a firm “Net 30” promise to them (because, hey, I know what it’s like to be waiting for the check!), we have (and pay for) a $70K overdraft on our business account.
        Big companies may walk softly, but it’s an awful big stick they carry.

        1. BritCred

          Oh the “year end” ploy… So many times I heard “we don’t pay anything in X month due to year end taking up so much of our time…” but they’d tell you on the last day of the prior month. I made notes and made sure to chase both X-1 and X so that it came in before that date… :D

        2. Chinook

          Catherine in Canada – if you by chance work in the West, the odds are good I work for that vendor of yours (or atleast in the same industry) and all I can say is that they treat their internal contractors just as poorly and we wish we could could shake some common sense into our overlords.

          The only trick I have ever learned working here is to insist on a Net 0 (which is possible when you are a one person operation) because then you have have a shot at being paid within 30 days.

      4. Ann Furthermore

        Years ago I worked in a department run by a CFO who mandated that all suppliers with terms of Net 30 be set up in our system as Net 60. He saw that extra 30 days as a grace period, and said that invoices were not truly past due until 60 days. Illegal? No, but definitely scummy and unethical. And when the economy was booming, it was not that big a deal. When the recession hit, companies tightened things up quite a bit and would start calling on day 34 or 35, or even in some cases 2 or 3 days before the due date. It created a lot of extra work for my AP staff. I’m convinced that CFO’s annual bonus was somehow tied to the company’s cash flow.

        That same guy now has a job where he is in charge of the corporate audit function. In addition to his shady maneuvers around supplier payments, I never in my life saw someone so willfully disregard GAAP. So for him to be leading an audit organization seems is like putting Ron Swanson in charge of vegetarian meal planning, or Bernie Madoff being in charge of your treasury functions.

        1. Blue Anne

          Oh my god. As someone who used to do accounts payable and is now in corporate audit… He’s now doing WHAT?! Oh man. Oh no.

        2. Anonsie

          a CFO who mandated that all suppliers with terms of Net 30 be set up in our system as Net 60. He saw that extra 30 days as a grace period, and said that invoices were not truly past due until 60 days.

          *screams*

      5. Anon for this...

        I work at “Begins with H” and let me tell you, you were wise to turn down the order. I have vendors knocking at my door who haven’t been paid in 8+ months and we just keep finding ways to put them off and put them off and put them off… I’m surprised anyone works with us anymore.

        1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

          Get out!

          Thanks for that!

          Big companies don’t do that for a $1000 order, they hand over a purchasing credit card. Thank you!

      6. Hillary

        I wish more of my suppliers had your attitude. We require them to use a 3rd party billing system (for a lot of reasons), and the main benefit to them is extremely fast payment, usually about one business day from invoice creation to ACH. Some of them only submit invoices once a month.

      7. RMRIC0

        I used to do more commercial/editorial work and they’d always have these ridiculous Net 30 terms. I suppose it’s how you get to stay a giant business, by nickel and diming everyone else.

    5. Apollo Warbucks

      3 weeks seems too long to wait for reimbursement to me and $2,000 is a lot of money to have to front to an employer.

      I’m all for picking up incidental expenses where necessary but they should be small in nature and reimbursed quickly. Bigger expenses should be invoiced to the company or paid on a corporate card.

    6. Chriama

      Hmm. I’m not sure how to interpret OP#2. 3 weeks is within the grace period, so no interest should have been accrued on the card at all. I never carry a balance on my card, so I’m not sure how that holds true if you are carrying a balance, but I think it makes the whole situation more nuanced. If you hadn’t spent the 2k, how much interested would you have accrued? I think the company should pay you just the interest caused by the 2k and not the interest caused by whatever balance was already on your card, but I don’t know how easy that is to calculate. However, it definitely wouldn’t be all the interest you were charged.

      Overall though, they should just issue corporate credit cards. It saves so much hassle!

      1. Lamb

        I read it as taking 3 weeks from when OP submitted the expenses for them to get reimbursed.
        And I’m not sure grace period length is standard across all cards.

        1. Helena

          This. I used to have a credit card that started charging interest from the date the charge was made, with no grace period at all (thanks, Royal Bank!), so no matter how promptly I paid, there was interest on the statement every month. Needless to say, I did not use the card unless it was a dire emergency, and only kept it as a way to increase my credit score.

          1. BRR

            Wow. Honestly my first question was also how was there interest but I had no idea there were cards like this.

          2. Chriama

            Yeah, I wouldn’t use a credit card like that. It’s so incredibly punitive, you’d be better off getting overdraft from your bank and using that. However, I think that must have been a little while ago. Even the most basic cards these days would have better terms than that.

      2. Natalie

        IIRC, if you’re carrying a balance interest begins accruing immediately. It would be a little tricky, although not impossible, to figure out what the portion of the interest is attributable to the business expenses.

          1. sunny-dee

            Common? I haven’t heard of it except for the credit cards they give to people with bad credit. My card doesn’t accrue interest until the next month’s bill — so, if I charge something, I can pay my bill in full and never be charged interest. I’ve had it for four years and never paid a dime in interest payments.

            1. fposte

              And in that case you’re not carrying a balance, so it’s a different thing. “Carrying a balance” is when you *haven’t* paid the bill in full; at that point, interest is generated, with most cards, on every purchase you make going forward. So basically it’s a 20% or what have you upcharge on every purchase.

      3. baseballfan

        This is what I am thinking. Three weeks is too long to reimburse expenses, yes. But three weeks shouldn’t impact anyone’s credit card interest If it does, the person is either waiting too long to submit expenses, or waiting too long to pay the bill after getting reimbursement.

        So in this case I fail to see how the company has caused the employee to incur interest.

        And yes, I agree with corporate credit cards although that does not solve the issue of timely reimbursement/payment. You still have to pay the card balance with your reimbursement, but I agree it helps keep business and personal expenses separated.

        1. Kyrielle

          It depends! Our corporate credit cards are in our names and we pay them – so yes, you still have to pay the card balance with your reimbursement.

          A friend of mine works for a company where the corporate credit card bills to the _company_ and the company pays it. The expense report in that case justifies why you charged it on the corporate credit card, and if you charged something you shouldn’t, you have to pay the company back (and get in trouble, if it was obviously non-covered).

      4. Graciosa

        I had the same expectation that no interest would accrue within three weeks. My first thought was that the OP did not submit the expense immediately – I had no idea that there were cards that charged interest from the moment of the transaction.

        However, the OP is the one who would have known this, not the employer, and the OP could have brought this up earlier in the process (like before the charge was incurred) and either ensured this would be reimbursable or negotiated for some of the alternatives others have mentioned.

        I understand companies having policies against reimbursing interest charges or late fees because the majority of these (at least everywhere I’ve worked) have been the result of the employee procrastinating in submitting the expense report.

        The policy also applied to every corporate card I’ve had as well; we were still responsible for late fees and interest charges because we wouldn’t have incurred them if we submitted the expense immediately (which was also required by policy). That said, I do think corporate cards are a good idea.

        1. Dynamic Beige

          Even if it’s not a “from the moment of the charge” interest card… the card I use for my business does the invoice on the 23rd of the month. If I make a $2K charge on the 20th, it may take a couple of days to clear and it will be on that statement (on the flip side, if the charge happened on the 24th — more time!). They want payment to arrive on the 17th of next month, which is just over 3 weeks away. Sounds like I can make it… so long as I submit the expense on the day it occurs, or the day afterwards — which is not always possible, depending on how these things are set up, why the purchase was made and where you may be in the world. If all goes well and I submit the expense within 48 hours and the company doesn’t put up a stink, I may have a cheque to deposit within the deadline — but then that still has to clear and if you do online banking it’s not instantaneous either, so it is possible that because payment didn’t arrive on the dot, the credit card company will go back to the date of purchase and charge interest. It’s kind of like flying with a lot of connections, only one thing has to go wrong before you get dinged.

          I agree that it’s not fair to expect your employees will pay for expensive things on their personal cards and reimburse so you can pay at your leisure. If your employees are willing to do this, then you should consider it a very great personal favour and pay them back in a shorter time period or decide that they are worth the trust of a corporate card.

    7. Cheesecake

      Putting business expenses on personal card already irritates me; i am amazed how many people have to do it (based on AAM comments). I always receive a corporate credit card, even if i had to travel 2x a year (and i am not a director). Reimbursing in 3 weeks? Sending “to all” email about not paying interest as a result of their screw up? 10k business expense on a personal credit card? Word’s can’t describe the extent to which i rolled me eyes!

      1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

        The other thing that bothers me is the “have” and “have not” aspect of all of this. People have wildly different financial circumstances which are none of the business’s damn business.

        We give people the corporate CC to run an errand for $20. If I didn’t have the CC available, I’d give them my own $20 (and forget to file the paperwork for it :/)

        I don’t understand assuming that anybody has the ability to float a business money. It’s…. tacky, in my opinion.

        1. Bunny

          Yeah, that’s a thing. I absolutely could not, ever, float business expenses above say, the cost of a lunch out. I don’t even own a credit card, and even if I might have the spare cash in my bank account I would NOT be willing to rely on work paying me back for it in a timely manner if it was in any way money I might need in the future. £2000?! Not a chance. £10,000 makes me feel faint just thinking about it.

        2. Cheesecake

          Every time i read threads about putting business flights&hotels on private cc, all i think of is wtf. In my current and past corporations if a person did not have a cc, it was because she just started and cc was not ordered yet. No exceptions. The only things i ever put on my card was couple of taxis. Let’s start buying equipment and pay office rent ourselves. Business expenses must be handled by the business.

          1. just another techie

            I prefer to put expenses in my personal CC because then I get points and frequent flyer miles, but I have an available line of credit and no outstanding debt. I certainly wouldn’t expect that any randomly selected employee has the same.

            1. Ann Furthermore

              I would actually prefer to do this too, for the same reason, but my company dictates that all business related expenses must be on a corporate card. I get it though. It’s a big company, and the corporate cards are all set up to auto-pay expenses as soon as you file your expense report, and any out-of-pocket expenses are deposited into your bank account. It’s pretty slick, and much more efficient than having someone process a ton of expense reports and then cut checks for them.

            2. Koko

              Same here. I have a great rewards program on my primary credit card, a high limit, and I don’t carry a balance. I also generally have enough extra money in my account that I can cover up to about $1,000 on my own if the bill comes due before the reimbursement is processed, so the cash reward from my credit card is pure profit for me (it’s certainly more than the 0.5 cents interest it would have earned in my bank account over the same time period).

              That said, I can always use my boss’s corporate card any time I need to book a major expense like a flight or hotel room or similar. I have the right combination of circumstances that I choose to take advantage of a way that floating my company’s money through my own credit card benefits me financially. No one should ever be forced to do that, because with a different set of circumstances those benefits disappear.

          2. FC

            I work for a major R1 research university, and although we have corporate procurement cards for staff who travel, hotels are blocked from being charged, and you are only allowed to charge food if you are hosting a donor or candidate (and never, ever alcohol). So basically people use them for the flight purchase, and have to submit reimbursement requests for hotels and per diem food.

        3. BananaPants

          It’s a very privileged attitude to have, to expect that any employee should be able to float money like this for their employer – especially on a very large expense like a business trip. Maybe they hit a rough patch in their personal finances and are unable to get a credit card with a high enough limit or can’t get one at all (or maybe their cards are maxed-out). Maybe they took a Dave Ramsey class and refuse to have credit at all, or their religion says that lending or borrowing money with interest is a sin.
          None of that is their employer’s business and the burden should not be placed on the employee to basically personally-finance the company’s operations.

          1. C Average

            This. I don’t have any credit cards. They don’t fit in with the way I choose to manage my money. If my company said, “Oh, just use your credit card for that $2000,” my response would be, “No, actually I’d rather use YOUR credit card for that $2000.” Fortunately it’s never come up. The first time they sent me on an international trip, they issued me a corporate card.

            1. Omne

              I have a hard time wrapping my head around that. Not having a card would drive me absolutely nuts. I don’t carry cash usually and use a credit card for almost everything and then pay the statements in full when they come due. I’m not knocking your system, I’m literally trying to imagine it.

              Where I work travelers normally use their own card but they get the expenses in advance of the trip, or even buying the tickets etc. They estimate the costs and then Fiscal settles everything up afterwards. We do have cards available but the bureaucracy that’s grown up around them is a pain.

              1. Chriama

                I can imagine it. I’ve been tempted to use it myself at times. The envelope method is a good way of managing your spending.

              2. C Average

                I use a debit card for pretty much everything. I love the convenience of plastic, don’t get me wrong! I just like having safeguards in place to ensure that my outgo can’t exceed my income.

                1. BananaPants

                  Having gotten into a lovely little pile of debt due to using credit cards in a true emergency and then experiencing a job loss on top of it, THIS is the way to go. Once we’re out of consumer debt, we’re not going to be going back into it!
                  We use debit cards for most purchases and YNAB for budgeting and it works really well.

            1. Merry and Bright

              £2,000 or $2,000 – if any employer asked me to fund that for work they would have to whistle. Loudly.

        4. Laurel Gray

          “People have wildly different financial circumstances which are none of the business’s damn business.”

          THIS! THIS! THIS!

          And I believe that even if people have the personal credit lines, with no balances, they should still have the choice to use a company card or their own for the rewards etc.

        5. Chriama

          I totally agree. There is a class distinction here that makes me super uncomfortable. We like to think that anybody can become rich if they just work hard enough, but even in today’s society the majority of rich people were born into it (or were at least born into the upper middle class with parents who could afford to give them decent advantages). If we put this barrier up for anyone who wants to work, how do we move away from that? It’s the same thing as including a credit check in the background check of potential employees. Unless it’s relevent to the job, don’t do it!

        6. Anonymous Coward

          I had a tense conversation with my boss’s boss about this once. We were setting up Skype subscriptions for work, and by the time mine came along, a number of the work-from-home employees had already paid for theirs with personal funds and had submitted expense reports, as was customary for several aspects of their work. I worked from the office and had never had to submit an expense report, and I balked at registering my personal card on an account I only used for work.

          My objections:
          1) info security – when I opened the screen to see what information was needed, I saw the name, home address, and last 4 card digits of the HR person who had set up the account years prior but had left the company. The card had since expired, or it could have been used, so I was wary of putting my own card in as a payment method and having no control over it in the future – say, when my employment ended.
          2) cost – although it was a small dollar amount, I was not in a position to float money to my employer for a business expense and wait for reimbursement. Yes, I was employed full-time, and the boss’s boss had some idea what I was paid, but they didn’t know (and shouldn’t need to know) my financial circumstances. I was paying off student loans, saving for a wedding and other important goals, and living very lean as a result. Not wanting to discuss those specifics, I focused on #1 and the general principle of having these expenses paid on a company card.

          It got down to me saying, in a very serious and concerned tone of voice, that I would [use my own card] if it was absolutely necessary — I was trying not to kick up a charge of insubordination — but that I had deep reservations about it. This was after a discussion of why I was concerned and several suggestions for how else to handle it. The boss’s boss told me that I had to do it, and I reluctantly agreed. Less than an hour later (having checked in with HR, perhaps?), they contacted me and said that the IT department manager would use their company purchasing card to register the subscription. Even today — 4 years down the line — every quarter I forward the email receipt from Skype, which comes addressed to the cardholder, to the IT department, and they put it on their expense report.

      2. jag

        Companies should provide credit cards if it is at all common the employee will need it and the employee wants it.

        That said, I actually preferred using a personal card because my card provided me with other perks, and it was one less thing to carry around. And I had enough in the bank that I never paid interest. But people absolutely should not have to use their own credit cards for work.

        1. Cheesecake

          I have recently forgotten pin for my corporate card and thought “damn, i wish i had one card!” But in most companies usage of private cards is forbidden because of limited expense visibility. Business receives statements and it is easy to trace expenses vs you and your personal card. So it is quite simple to see that Lucy’s sephora bill is most probably not a valid travel expense.

          1. Apollo Warbucks

            My firm did away with nearly all the corporate cards and petty cash as the admin burden was getting so big.

            They moved the payment runs to once a week and provided an on-line book service for train tickets, flights, hotels and car hire so people weren’t out of pocket but it still comes with the job that you have to pay certain incidental expenses and claim them back but never anything to large.

          2. jag

            That makes sense, but I’m curious how you know it’s “most companies.”

            I also think international travel is risky with just one card.

            1. Cheesecake

              Let me correct myself by saying corporations. From audit perspective reimbursing travel expenses and treating employees as “interst-free loans” is not completely compliant and bares a risk. Plus we had cases where some subsidiaries had to restrict or completely shut down petty cash (that was held for travel advances just in case) and solely rely on corp.credit cards – requirement from external audit.

              1. Apollo Warbucks

                I think you are mixing up two issues here petty cash and the use of personal cards are not the same thing. Removing petty cash doesn’t mean that the use of personal cards would be prohibited.

                The auditors probably has concerns about the safety and security of the petty cash and wanted to removed the actual physical cash from the business, to reduce the risk of fraud of theft.

                I would be shocked if the auditors cared how this was done, it’s more likely that your company decided that corporate cards were the best option.

                Also auditors can’t require a business to do anything, they provide an opinion about whether the financial statements give a ‘true and fair’ view of the business and more recently there has been a move for auditors to be more proactive in identifying possible weakness in the account processes and areas where fraud could occur (like a big bundle of cash kept in a remote office with weak control and reconciliation processes)

                1. Cheesecake

                  What i mean is not using straightforward way of paying business expenses (directly from business bank account to a supplier, eliminating 3rd party transactions) creates a risk.

                2. Cheesecake

                  @jag
                  Since i was talking about fin.compliance (not necessarily common sense :D ) i am continuing in this direction. It is all is about risks and mitigating them. Having a 3rd party in money transaction is a risk, but tolerable above certain amount(key here is threshold, in corps we are talking about millions in travel expenses). It is of course not prohibited to use personal card and have expenses reimbursed from time to time. But having employees constantly submitting reimbursement claims and giving advances opens a door to investigations and audit comments.

                  Also, when i think about reimbursing employees, it can be subject to payroll taxes.

                  So i can list a lot of reasons why this way of dealing with expenses sucks.

                3. jag

                  Cheesecake: I’m not asking your reasoning. I’m asking a very specific question about a statement you made: that most corporations have a certain practice. How do you know that is true?

          3. Graciosa

            It’s not just expense visibility – the business gets the perks of card usage (like cash back) for everyone’s expenses. The large employers I’ve worked for have always required use of the corporate card for business expenses for that reason as much as anything else.

      3. Vera

        I use my personal credit card for corporate expense of up to around $4000 a month. I love it. One less card to carry, and I get the perks (miles, points, whatever) of all that spending. Also, it eliminates the hassle of trying to figure out more complex bills, like if I want to go over the $35 limit for dinner. I can pay the $50 on my credit card and charge my company for only $35.

        I’ve had corporate cards in the past, but I much prefer using my own.

        1. Snowglobe

          I do as well, but the key is prompt reimbursement by the company. My employer has an online reimbursement system. I submit my expenses, my boss gets an email to approve (if he is out on vacation, I can send it to another manager) and once approved, the reimbursement is deposited into my bank account in 3-4 days. 99% of the time I have the money before I even receive the credit card bill.

          1. jag

            Nowadays with interest on my bank account so low, I don’t even care about the speed of reimbursement (though my company is fast) – I’m usually the slow spot in the process myself. I have enough to pay off the each bill without penalties or interest, and whether I have the money back or not for a month just doesn’t add up to much.

            That was not the case when I didn’t have much money in savings.

          2. Cassie

            We have an online system now too, where either the traveler or an admin submits the expenses (usually the admins do it, not the traveler) – the typical turnaround time is supposed to be 5 days, compared to weeks with the old offline system.

            The biggest problem I run into is that the expense reports are not complete (a receipt missing here, an unexplained expense there) and the back-and-forth delays everything. If the traveler is not responsive to the emails asking for additional info, then that drags things out even more. And I could see where a traveler complains about *how long* it takes but really it’s because they didn’t follow directions, and they didn’t follow up, and the admins didn’t follow up and so everything just fell through the cracks.

        2. Observer

          That’s nice if you have it. But, not everyone has that kind of flexibility. AND reimbursement has to be fast. I refuse to put anything on my card anymore, as our reimbursement rules slow the process down too much. I don’t even blame my org, though, because the process is a direct result of the documentation requirements many of our funders (we’re a non-profit) have. We’re changing certain aspects of our system to try to make the process faster from the time a purchase is made to reimbursement while still keeping the auditors happy.

          And NO ONE is EVER expected to make large purchases on their personal cards. (It probably would not even be allowed.)

          1. the_scientist

            My former employer just switched to a policy where certain travel expenses (planes, trains and automobiles, mainly) MUST go on a corporate card. Like, if you book on your personal card they automatically won’t reimburse it. It was a pain for our external collaborators to have to go through us to book flights, and I’m sure it pissed off a lot of people who wanted to collect airmiles or other reward points, but it did eliminate the issue of employees having to wait for reimbursement for significant expenses.

        3. Artemesia

          I worked for a company that authorized $25 for dinner without receipt. When it saw everyone reporting $25, they decided we were all hosing the company and charging the max for more modest meals and so required receipts. When they saw the receipts for $50+ (in say New Orleans) they would deny the expense although the employee was only asking for the $25 for that meal. It took us forever to get them to understand that their $25 limit for reimbursement didn’t limit us to $25 for dinner. Maroons.

    8. Brett

      Three weeks is bad. Many cards carry a 20 day grace period now. Even if you submitted your statement for reimbursement the same day you received it, you would still end up either using your own money to pay the bill of incurring late charges.

      1. AnonAnalyst

        Yes, this. If the charge was incurred right before the close of the billing cycle, I can easily see a scenario where OP would be on the hook for interest because the company took so long to reimburse her.

        I also take issue with the assertion that, if the OP were carrying a balance, that it’s then her fault and thus her responsibility to pay for the interest incurred on business expenses. Business expenses are the company’s problem. Period. If they’re irritated about having to pay interest on their expenses in this situation, find a way to have the company pay for everything upfront, rather than relying on employees to float the company money. Problem solved!

      2. Kyrielle

        Also, if you’re filing reimbursement for a trip, you may file at the end of it (and in fact, my company expects that). Hotel and other charges start accruing as soon as you’re there – let’s say it’s a 10-day trip. 10 days later (assuming you do your paperwork on the flight back), you file your expense report for hotel, food, taxi/car, etc.

        But the first costs have already been on your credit card for 10 days. There’s half your grace period on that card you just referenced….

        1. RMRIC0

          Plus, the hotel probably dings your CC for the room deposit and other bits as soon as you book – not just the moment you check in.

    9. John

      It depends on the timing of the close of the billing period. If expenses are incurred just before close, you will likely have to pay them before your reimbursement arrives.

      I dealt with this at a large company. I would incur large expenses for client entertainment, and the approver would sit on expense reports. And sit on them. And sit on them. She had to be in the mood, and rarely would prodding help.

      The company’s policy was not to reimburse for late fees/interest unless a high-level executive signed off on them, which discouraged people from fighting for it. But, hell, I wasn’t discouraged. It wasn’t my fault!

    10. Observer

      $10K a month? As the others have said, the idea that any company is asking you to put that much on a personal card is insane. No one should regularly have to front that much money for even a week+

      In fact, some people CANNOT do that (even $2k is a stretch for a number of people.) And, unless someone is earning a very high salary, expecting people to have extensive liquid credit balances also can negatively affect their credit rating. That is ridiculous.

      1. My 2 Cents

        I regularly did this but because I WANTED to, not because I had to. I charged $10-15K a month on my personal credit card for work because of the miles, and got two free international airline tickets out of it for it so it was a great perk that cost me nothing. I was also in charge of the reimbursements so I knew I’d be paid, that helped ease any concern I had over reimbursement.

    11. My 2 Cents

      You’re getting a lot of flack for this but you’re right. If I spent $2,000 today and my statement closed today, I would have more than 3 weeks grace period to pay the bill, by which time the company would have paid me the reimbursement and I could pay the bill, so all would be fine and I wouldn’t have incurred any interest. This isn’t the case if it took longer than 3 weeks but in this case she did say she got the money within 3 weeks so I really don’t see what the problem is. Plus, if the statement didn’t close right then and closed well after the charges then she had even longer to pay her bill before interest was charged.

        1. My 2 Cents

          I just checked my credit cards and they had 4 weeks between statement closing and payment due date so this person absolutely should not have been charged interest if reimbursed within 3 weeks.

          1. neverjaunty

            Is the OP on your card account? If not, why are you assuming that the grace period for your cards is universal?

            1. My 2 Cents

              Grace periods on credit cards are pretty standard, in fact I think they are required by law. BTW, I have 15 credit cards and I checked them all and they all had 4 weeks of grace period, I’m not just pulling stuff out of my ass here.

          2. Rene UK

            It depends on the card. If you’ve had a bankruptcy, for instance, you might not have the option of good terms on a credit card. And bankruptcy doesn’t always mean someone has been careless with money(and so what if they were? everyone makes mistakes) –a friend of mine had a child with serious health issues and ended up bankrupt despite health insurance(think over $1000 per month prescription cost, *after* insurance coverage).

  7. Marzipan

    #2, if they won’t pay the interest, they won’t – it sucks, but there is is. But I think it would be perfectly reasonable for you to politely decline to temporarily absorb business expenses (especially ones of this size) on your own credit card on future.

    1. Monodon monoceros

      Yep. My last job was really stingy with giving out corporate cards. However, I had to travel a lot and pay for things like food for a 2 week field camp, and last minute flight changes, etc. I finally put my foot down when I had multiple trips back to back and wasn’t home to deposit my reimbursement checks (I had paid for over 2000 USD worth of stuff and for some unknown reason they “couldn’t” direct deposit it even though regular pay was direct deposit). I said I wouldn’t be able to travel anymore unless I got a corporate card. My boss had to fight tooth and nail to get me one, but she finally succeeded. I never understood why it was such a fight, but most dealings with the finance department there was…

      1. The Cosmic Avenger

        My company is weird about the direct deposit for expenses, too! And they’re great about so many things, including prompt reimbursement! That’s so odd.

        Can anyone in payroll offer some insight? My guess is that some smaller payroll systems are set up so that all direct deposit funds are categorized as income in the system, so in order to reimburse you without deducting taxes, they have to cut you a check.

        1. jhhj

          We just don’t want to confuse the two — I want to be able to see reimbursements separately from payroll and for complex reasons that wouldn’t work if we reimbursed on payroll — and we haven’t gotten around to setting up direct deposit from our bank account. (It’s planned, but our bank tech manager retired and I liked her and am not looking forward to someone new.)

          1. NJ Anon

            We reimburse through payroll. It’s not hard to separate the reimbursement from the employee’s pay. It is a different code in the payroll program and it shows up as reimbursement on their pay stub.

            1. jhhj

              Yeah, it’s a weird payroll system, but mostly it’s for internal purposes. We have to reimburse pretty rarely, which is why it’s never been a priority to make it happen more efficiently.

              The payroll audit we just had really liked that we kept them separate, I guess it was just less work for them to check.

        2. Anomanom

          Payroll person here. In most companies, the expense reimbursements aren’t being cut by payroll, they are going through accounts payable. If your payroll department really is who is processing and paying out the reimbursements, then they should totally be able to direct deposit that as well. I’ve worked on systems where we just add it to the normal paycheck as a nontaxable item with it’s own separate wage type/pay code.

          1. The Cosmic Avenger

            Ah…AFAIK we just have one accounting department, not separate AP and AR departments. The person who handles payroll/paycheck issues is not the person who we deal with for reimbursements, so maybe one handles payroll and one is considered AP. (There are only maybe 6 or 7 people in Accounting, if that.)

        3. The Office Admin

          We try to do reimbursements at the same time we run payroll, but it all ends up as one lump sum direct deposit. So, Persephone’s pay stub says she was paid $1,000.00 net pay, but her direct deposit was $1,250.00, which is fine because she was reimbursed, but not fine because unless you look at my reimbursement file, an auditor wouldn’t know why she was paid an extra $250
          The only time it’s been a problem was when an employee was refinancing his mortgage, needed 8 weeks of paystubs from me, but his deposits from his bank statements didn’t match the paystubs. I had to write a letter explaining how and why we process our reimbursements to his refinance company.

          1. The Cosmic Avenger

            Thanks, that’s probably the kind of thing they’re trying to avoid. It’s annoying though, because my wife’s much larger employer reimburses through direct deposit. And we’re not that small, between 250-500 people.

    2. Green

      It shouldn’t matter, but it does: industry, salary and culture/position. At a previous job, I used to make a significant amount of money on airline miles, hotel points, 5% cashback, etc. and used my personal card to float as much as $20,000 in a month. I submitted promptly and typically was reimbursed promptly, but if for some reason it was delayed (your secretary forgot to submit it, someone was out for a week, whatever), you were expected to float the money and just pay it off (or pay off any interest if you couldn’t handle the full float).

      And if you didn’t have the capability to float, you could have asked for a company card, but nobody would have done that because getting to pick up the tab for 12 people at 5% cashback was a significant perk.

      If you’re making $30,000 being implicitly asked to carry $2,000 for the business is a big deal and unfair. Carrying $2,000 for a week or two if your salary is $250,000 or you’re an executive may still be unfair, but complaining about $60 in interest is a bad career move. That’s why there’s an unreimbursed business expenses deduction.

      1. neverjaunty

        Why is it a bad career move? The issue isn’t whether you can afford the $60. The issue is that your company is using you for interest-free loans. Funny how that $60 is no big deal for the employee to eat, but suddenly becomes a big deal if the employee wants it back.

        1. Green

          Individuals make up a company (and its culture). Unreasonable expectations of individuals can still negatively impact your workload and career if they develop negative feelings about you. If you make $250,000, other individuals in some work cultures will think you look “cheap” if you cannot pay the bill and wait for reimbursement (incurring $0 in interest) or just eat the interest. Similarly, I hate United Way campaigns, but in my previous job you did indeed basically *have* to give. In other words, sometimes being right still doesn’t mean that’s the hill to die on.

  8. Dan

    #2

    Here’s the deal… If you have a $60 interest charge on a $2000 bill, one of two things is true: 1) you have a card with a 30% APR, or 2) you are carrying a balance.

    30% is way high, you could be doing less than half that if you shop around. If you don’t carry a balance, then most cards are going to give you a grace period, which is usually three weeks. So if you are reimbursed within three weeks, then the only time you will get caught paying interest is if you charge that expense the day your statement closes.

    If you are carrying a balance, then you will always be paying interest no matter what, and that $60 isn’t completely your employers fault.

    I can’t say I blame them for not reimbursing interest, so your goal is to minimize the expense to yourself.

    1. SystemsLady

      It’s very likely the trip took a week or two and it was shortly after that time that the OP sent in the expense report (which then took three weeks to process, putting the OP right over the grace period line).

      1. Dan

        Sure, but take a second look at my post. If the op is NOT carrying a balance, then she has a way too high APR to generate the interest charge noted. Splitting hairs over grace periods aren’t going to help her much. Finding a card with less than a 30% APR will.

        BTW, one thing I forgot to mention — pay the bill as soon as you get the reimbursement check, not just when your statement says “pay minimum amount due by”. Thus will lower the average daily balance, which will in turn lower the interest due.

        I just want to be clear — I’m not trying to blame the op at all; it’s just that in this circumstance, there are immediate steps she can take to reduce the immediate problem, which is interest from employer reimbursable expenses.

        1. AnonAnalyst

          30% is a high APR, but the OP may not be able to get a card with a lower APR if she has a limited or poor credit history. I think the advice to look for a card with a lower interest rate is good, but I also think it’s important to recognize that this might be the best (or only) option for the OP right now.

          If the company doesn’t want to have to pay out this (I agree) ridiculous interest rate, they should figure out a different system for business expenses that doesn’t depend on employees fronting them money and/or figure out how to process reimbursements more quickly, but it’s not reasonable to push it back to the OP.

          1. Ann Furthermore

            This was my thought too. If the OP is trying to rebuild his/her credit, a card with a high APR may be the only option. I blew my credit all to hell in my early 20’s, and it took me years to get it all fixed. At one point my credit was so bad that the only card I could get was secured — meaning you had to make a deposit with BigBank, and the amount was your credit limit. It completely sucked, but it was the only way I could rebuild my credit. Finally, I got to the point where I could get an unsecured card, but the interest rate was ridiculous. And then, at long last, I was able to get credit cards with reasonable interest rates (although “reasonable” is a relative term when talking about credit card APR’s).

    2. Observer

      Actually, many cards have only 20 days, so three weeks goes over the limit right there. And that assumes that the OP was able to submit the reimbursement request the day the expense was incurred, which is not a given. If someone needs to bet back into the office to submit physical paperwork for a reimbursement request, that also adds time (especially if these were travel related expenses.)

      Beyond that, as others have said, if the OP was carry a balance, that’s too bad on the company. The company has a choice whether to use employees as a credit line or not, and THEY made the choice to use that line of credit.

    3. Ask a Manager Post author

      If you are carrying a balance, then you will always be paying interest no matter what, and that $60 isn’t completely your employers fault.

      But it’s the OP’s business how she manages her money. It’s of no relevance to the company. If the company incurs additional charges because it chooses to have an employee float them money, then they should pay said charges. Otherwise, they can pay up-front.

      1. Graciosa

        If the company chose to do this knowing that the there would be additional charges from having the employee float the money, I would agree with this.

        However, there is nothing to indicate that the company knew until after the charges were incurred, which leads me to a completely different conclusion. If the employee spoke up, that’s one thing – but I don’t think you get to stick the company with additional, unexpected charges without giving them a chance to handle this another way.

        I’m a bit more focused on the communication aspect here, but I admit I do get frustrated when I see problems that could have been avoided with an honest discussion up front.

        1. LBK

          I don’t think an employee is under any obligation to forewarn the employer that fees/interest will be accrued. That’s a basic part of how credit cards work – if they weren’t aware of that possibility, they don’t know enough about credit cards to be asking employees to use theirs.

          1. Graciosa

            It is a basic part of how credit cards work, but it’s not unreasonable for an employer to assume that these won’t apply where the balance is paid promptly in full.

            And an employer may have been able to work out alternative arrangements for employees who speak up, but an employee who stays silent doesn’t give them those options.

            In this case, the employee had better, more specific information (the exact terms of their credit card arrangement and likely costs) than the employer had. Why is it wrong to expect them to tell the employer in advance what additional costs they expect the employer to pay?

            I’m a little surprised that we’re really discussing whether or not you need to inform someone else about the likely amount of a bill you expect them to cover before you create the obligation.

            1. LBK

              I see this like an employer expecting me to inform them that my business reimbursement requests will also include the taxes I paid on the item. I would take for granted that the business understands this is a cost associated with the purchase, so I wouldn’t even consider it necessary to clarify.

              It is a basic part of how credit cards work, but it’s not unreasonable for an employer to assume that these won’t apply where the balance is paid promptly in full.

              I’m also not sure how the employer can assume that the balance is being paid promptly in full unless expenses are only incurred in the first week of the month and/or you have a maximum 1-week reimbursement turnaround. If I knew it took me three weeks to reimburse an employee and I was expecting them to purchase things towards the end of the month, I would assume I wouldn’t be getting them the money in time for them to pay the bill in full.

            2. LBK

              Plus, the employee didn’t create the obligation for the bill to be paid. The company created that obligation when they forced the employee to charge the amount to their card.

            3. LQ

              Yes, absolutely, if the employer had given the OP the money the day they submitted the reimbursement and the OP had sat on it and not paid it for a month that would be different. But the business was the one who didn’t promptly pay in full here. The business waited, the business failed to promptly meet loan agreements.

            4. AW

              it’s not unreasonable for an employer to assume that these won’t apply where the balance is paid promptly in full

              It’s completely unreasonable for the employer to assume that the employee can pay the balance without the reimbursement money.

          2. Merry and Bright

            +1
            Especially if the employer was slow to reimburse the OP. It should not have taken Einstein to realize that there was a risk of charges being incurred.

      2. Dan

        My point was a very literal math one — the op is claiming that she incurred $60 in interest as a result of the $2000 charge. The thing is, if she’s carrying a balance, she’s paying interest anyway, and it’s not accurate to allocate all of that $60 to the employer. If she’s carrying say a $4k balance, then only a third of that $60 is attributable to the employer.

        Seriously, there really are immediate things the op can do to minimize that interest charge. Number one is to rent payment the second the reimbursement check clears the bank.

      3. GrandBargain

        I mostly agree with you, though I see this as a pretty messy discussion. Somebody is borrowing the money – either the company from the employee or the employee from the credit card. What about the employee who (for whatever reason) uses her own card but doesn’t incur those finance charges? Should she be able to add $60 to her expense report as interest for a loan she made to the company? “Hey, you paid his $60!! I deserve that too!”

        The best middle ground (for me) seems to be the company paying the large items that can be accurately determined before the trip – air fares, hotels, rental cars &c – and the traveler footing the bill for the discretionary items that may need review. Not a fan of advancing cash to the employee except in unusual circumstances (extreme need perhaps being one of those).

        :)

      4. sunny-dee

        I have a corporate CC for things like travel, but part of the policy is that they do not pay for late charges or interest. Ever. And if I carry a balance on it, I could be fired; the expectation is that I pay it off in full when my expense check is paid. (I should point out, my company pays expense checks every Friday if they’re filed by, I think, Tuesday. So, the longest I can go without being paid is still less than two weeks.)

        I’m in a position with some limited travel; if you don’t travel at least once a year, you don’t have a corporate CC. The thing about not paying interest applies to personal CC use, too — although those employees may not be aware of it.

        The OP’s company may have a similar policy as a way to discourage abuse of corporate credit or misuse of reimbursement checks, and it’s affecting the OP now. How the OP handles finances generally isn’t the company’s concern. How their employees handle corporate credit and reimbursement, however, is.

  9. Cat H (UK)

    ” Within a three week time frame, interest charges would only accrue if you carry a balance on your card. If you paid the card off each month, there would be no interest charges.”

    This actually depends on when your statement is generated. If you make the purchase on the 1st and the company pays your money on the 21st, but your statement is generated on the 14th, you’ll be charged interest.

    Luckily for me, I get paid my expenses weekly.

    Also, it’s a good idea to get a 0% purchase credit card if your company regularly takes this long to pay you.

    1. Chriama

      Is that true? For my credit card, all purchases made within the 30 day statement period are due at the end of the month. So on Jan 1 I get a statement for all purchases from Dec 1 – 31, and payment is due on Jan 31. That means that even a purchase made on the last day of the statement period has a month’s grace. Again, I don’t know how that holds true if you’re carrying a balance, but in that case OP still bears partial responsibility for the interest charge and shouldn’t expect to be reimbursed for all of it.

      1. misspiggy

        In the UK it’s true. Also, if you don’t clear your balance – which most people couldn’t do with $2000 on there – you can get charged late fees, not just interest. My previous employer didn’t pay credit card interest, and expected us to carry large expenses on our credit cards. Cash advances were only available for small amounts. At least people who travelled frequently got corporate cards, with enough pushing from their boss.

        1. Chriama

          Late fees on top of interest? I’m always surprised at how things work in other countries, even though I shouldn’t be. In that situation, I agree that the company should expect that no one would charge company expenses on their personal credit card. But I don’t know how that holds true for the OP’s situation. I’d love to hear more details.

      2. Merry and Bright

        That works if you have the cash to pay the bill quickly, but here the OP has a large bill to pay which has been run up purely to fund the employer’s business costs upfront. An employer should absolutely not assume that an employee can do this.

        1. Graciosa

          I am actually on the side of those who think the business should provide corporate cards to pay for business expenses, however there is a basic communication issue here.

          If you know your employer is making an incorrect assumption (that you can charge $2K on a personal card and be reimbursed in 3 weeks with no additional costs) you need to say something. This is true regardless of whether or not you think the assumption was a fair one to begin with.

          I think there are a lot of situations like these which could have been solved with words before a potential problem solidified into a real one.

    2. Merry and Bright

      The OP probably would get a 0% card if possible but if you have a bankruptcy in your credit history your options are more limited.

      1. "I say let the world go to hell, but I should always have my tea."

        I assume you are talking generally here because I can’t see anything in the post about the OP’s credit history. But, yes, the type of card you can get is definitely influenced by your credit standing. However, if the employer were to make suggestions about the type of card you used to prop their costs up, that would be even further out of line.

    3. QAT Contractor

      Not everyone has a good credit history to get a lower interest rate card. Even if they do have good credit, there could be other factors that play into why they are having a $60 expense beyond the $2000 floated.

      As others have mentioned, it seems likely there was more than just interest for the $2000, and if they are paying interest on the $2000 afer 3 weeks they probably have a running balance they are paying off. Either that or they had the charge on January 20, for example, didn’t submit for reimbursement until middle of February, then were payed the first week of March thus incuring late charges as well as interest.

      I submit reimbursements all the time for my company. Once I had to cover 2 last minute direct flights ($2300 total) as well as a week worth of hotel stay and meals (another ~$800) a week after having just spent about another $2000 for a previous business trip. I had basically maxed my card out in 3 weeks just for business travel.

      We get reimbursements every 2 weeks, so after the first trip of $2k, I submitted but hadn’t been paid yet and the second trip I was able to submit the flights prior to the cutoff so I ended up getting about $4k back before my credit card bill would have been due. It’s a juggling act for sure, and I was slightly worried about being paid in time, but I was also assured by my company that they would get me paid as long as I submitted the expenses quickly. The only thing I use that credit card for it business travel/expenses and so I got an agreement that if as long as it was not my fault for interest/late charges, they would pay them. (my fault being not submitting in a timely manner or not paying the bill on time)

  10. John Vinall

    #1: for what it’s worth, in the UK we can request flexible working at any point but have a right to request it after 6 months working for an employer. Employers must “seriously consider” it but what that means is up to the employer.

    I will say, though, that in my last role I had one engineer on 80% time and one engineer on 60% time – and as it worked out I ended up getting higher productivity out of both of them than I did before. The nature of the work was such that they could do the “boring bits” of their work whilst at work – and the “thinky bits” they ended up doing in their own time. They were also both better motivated, more flexible in case longer days were needed, and happier in general.

    In short, it was win/win for both sides.

    Before I started my current job I let them know I’d like to go down to 80% hours once I’m up to speed with the systems here – offering them the chance to withdraw the offer – and they said “you have a right to request it after 6 months”. Which wasn’t quite the response I was hoping for but at least I’ve done the right thing!

    I’d echo what others have said, though – learn the work and the company culture, probably take you at least 6 months to do – and don’t expect to keep 100% of the pay if you go down to 80% of the hours (even if you end up doing 100% of the work in those 80% hours).

    1. Sospeso

      That’s fascinating that they are required to seriously consider it in the UK. (I find the UK/US differences in employment practices interesting in general!) My HR brain wonders if this is the kind of fact-specific consideration that’s required for requests for accommodation under the ADA here in the US, or if it a less formal process than that.

      I also appreciate your point about the engineers you worked with being more productive with less time spent at work. I think that a flexible working schedule is especially appropriate for creative roles, where the “thinky bits” might not mesh well with a typical 9 to 5 schedule. (“Be creative from 9-11 am, answer emails from 11-11:30 am, go to lunch, be creative from 1-3 pm,” etc.) I am curious to see how flexibility at work evolves in the next few decades as it becomes more feasible and as its benefits are acknowledged more often!

      1. Carrie in Scotland

        Hmmm, it’s not as amazing as John Vinall makes out – I mean yes, a quick google search on UK flexible working after 6 months does come up with plenty of articles but it’s certainly never come up anywhere I’ve worked, unless it’s been a “phased return” after extended illness.
        Where I work at the moment (university) has a variety of roles and flexibility but my own one is M-F, 9-5. That is the hours I was hired to do, I’m not sure how happy my employers would be if I wanted to do less – especially as, if I was doing it for less money, they’d have to account for that and in the future might find it hard to justify the hours/salary?

      2. John Vinall

        It used to be fact-specific (as in you had to have a reason) but it’s recently been changed to “any reason” – a quick google suggests it was on the 30th June 2014, so not so long ago!

        The interesting thing with my engineers was that a good chunk of their time was devoted to relatively mundane tasks (change backup tapes / monitor servers / update systems / answer 3rd line tech support queries) but they still ended up with a higher productivity than before – for example it forced the guy on 60% time to plan the backups properly so that he only needed to change tapes when he was in the office.

  11. Juli G.

    #4 There was a similar situation where an employee started dating boss’s ex spouse right after their split. Unlike #4, the boss tried to be cool and treat the employee the same but the employee was clearly no longer getting the same advocacy, mentoring, support from their boss.

    Once the situation became known, there were moves made to separate them. Eventually, the boss left the company (which was really unfortunate) and the employee left later because there was the lingering cloud of being “that guy”.

    Bottom line is that even if everyone tries to be professional, it’s still going to be a problem because we’re people and not robots.

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      Yep. Another way to think of it is: How would you feel if your boss started dating your ex, after a messy and painful break-up and one where you knew your ex was badmouthing you? For most people, that would make it a lot harder to work with that manager comfortably.

  12. Alliej0516

    #1…You may also want to be careful about asking for decreased hours – it could affect your full-time status, and you could lose some or all of your company’s benefits.

  13. Cheesecake

    OP #1, were you working there before and simply moved to another role? Because if you did not and you are really a new hire, i would steer clear from saying 80% out loud. Even when you talk to your colleagues about their special schedule, do not indicate you want the same; rather ask about the job and it will lead to work hours discussion.

    Asking 80% when you were hired for 100% is a big deal, no matter if you are a stellar performer or not. If you are still interested after, say, 6 months, you better come up with a solid reason a)why b)concrete examples how you tackled same workload 20% faster. Otherwise “well, 80% is cool and it works for Fred” can damage your profile.

    1. OP

      Thanks. No, I’m new, and I wasn’t sure how it would be perceived to ask this early. About a fifth of the employees do it (all our schedules are posted, which is how I know), and it’s company policy, but I wasn’t sure how it would be received. Thank you for your thoughts.

  14. Cnon

    Alison said: “Agreed. Y’all, sending advertisements to your interviewer is a very bad idea. Free email accounts without ads abound; get and use one of those.”

    And do you where one could find one of these free email accounts without ads; all of the free ones I’ve seen have ads, such as Microsoft Outlook and Google.

    1. Lore

      You see ads on your gmail homepage but google does not place ads in your outgoing mail messages, which I think is the concern here…

      1. Cnon

        I just sent a message from my Microsoft Outlook account and there were no ads attached to the outgoing mail.

      2. Cnon

        I setup a Juno free email account, just to see what the OP was talking about.

        They do include promotional ads at the bottom of each sent message.

    2. nona

      Neither Google nor Yahoo send ads to email recipients. I’ve gotten emails at work from AOL, Hotmail, and Roadrunner accounts that didn’t send ads.

        1. The Office Admin

          My boss doesn’t understand why I want him to get rid of his Yahoo account. It might be the worst email system ever.
          I did finally convince him last year to forward all his SBCGlobal emails to his corporate/GMail account.
          His son tried to get him on Outlook(great for most people, not for someone who prefers Yahoo to GMail, right?) and this was me:
          **slowly pushes the mouse out of arms reach** Don’t do it.

          1. Persephone Mulberry

            Speaking of old people and email, my mom threatens to quit Gmail every time they change something. They switched her contact list to this new “preview” mode and she nearly had a rage stroke.

            What is the boringest, least changey, non-techy email interface out there (other than Outlook desktop, because no)?

          2. nona

            Agreed, and I’ve been using Yahoo for about 10 years.

            About to make a GMail account and set up my Yahoo account to forward everything there…

          3. The Office Admin

            I have to add, because this is SO timely.
            I just received a resume from someone with an @live.com email.
            Who knew that even existed??

              1. Merry and Bright

                I had a live.com account once upon a time. I set it up some years ago when I was job hunting and wanted to keep agency and interview related stuff separate from my normal account.

                It was a Microsoft thing and was replaced by their Outlook.com addresses.

                I still have a separate email account for job search stuff but I have a Gmail account for that. It is handy because I can keep track of my job search emails on my mobile app when I am out and about, or temping etc.

            1. TK

              My parents run a seasonal business with a public-facing live.com address. I’m not taking the time to look it up, but I think it was the Microsoft default address for a couple years between hotmail.com and outlook.com, and that just happened to be when they set up the account. It uses the same login and web interface as outlook.com.

          4. BananaPants

            My parents still use their old SBC Global email accounts from 15+ years ago. No amount of encouragement to forward to Gmail accounts will get them to budge.

    1. BRR

      Yes, they found how to get an email address by searching on alta vista during their free AOL trial.

      1. Natalie

        A somewhat surprising number of our tenants still use AOL as their primary business email. I mean, I guess it doesn’t matter much, but it would give me pause if my financial planner lawyer didn’t have a business account.

        1. The Office Admin

          I judge people based on their email addresses. And I mean, shake my head in disappointment judge.
          Ah, Penelope, I had such high hopes for you. But a yahoo/AOL/SBCGlobal/Juno email? *sigh*

          1. Lead, Follow or Get Outta the Way!

            I still use my AOL email address as my primary non-work address. And I still have the same cell phone number from almost 18 years ago…I like to make it easy for people to contact me and don’t see a reason to change it. It’s hard to keep up with people that change their email addresses and phone numbers like they change their underwear. How is one to keep up with all of that? And I just turned 40, so no…I’m not a dinosaur.

            1. Omne

              I use a mail forwarding account and have for the past 15 years. My email is firstname@lastname.com and it forwards to my actual email so even if I change providers it still works. I renew it for 10 year periods. I think it was about $12 a year last time.

              Luckily I got in early enough to get just my first name instead of firstname34 or whatever.

            2. ThursdaysGeek

              Yeah, I have a friend under 40 who uses AOL. It’s nice when email addresses and phone numbers stay the same, year after year, and I still know how to contact my friends.

          2. Rebecca

            Ugh, my parents have a Prodigy email address. Any time someone asks for their email address, I’m like, “Yeah, Prodigy. Prodigy dot net.”

          3. Chinook

            “I judge people based on their email addresses. And I mean, shake my head in disappointment judge.”

            I judge them to but the opposite way – I am impressed that you have been in one spot, with one provider long enough to still have that @telusplant.net account from when internet came to Alberta (because they switched to telus.com back at the turn of the millenium when they merged with BC). I see it as a badge of honour as being not only a geographical oldtimer in the time of a population boom but also someone with internet experience (which is not the same as knowledge, grant you).

      2. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

        Ha ha ha.

        Your forgot that the referral was from a Tripod website! (which, still exists. I was utterly shocked the other day to find one on the other end of a customer qualification search. Customer did not qualify highly after that. :/)

        1. nona

          Tripod images still do that thing if you hotlink! It’s hilarious to see every now and then.

          1. Zahra

            Yup, mine was 1997. I still keep it, I do have friends that contact me at odd intervals and they know that address is not going away.

      1. Cordelia Naismith

        They started up in the late 90s. I had a Juno account in the early 2000s (along with my old AOL account), but I dropped it as soon as Gmail was invented.

        I also used to have a Geocities webpage back in the day. Yes, I’m old.

          1. LQ

            I’m super disappointed my curser didn’t turn into a cat, or the line of stars? That was awesome.

        1. Katie the Fed

          I’m so old my first social media account was Friendster. And I’ll come running if I hear an AOL Instant Messenger ding.

          1. Windchime

            I used to do chat on AOL back in the day when they had a “free” area and a “pay” area. You had to use the “pay” area to chat, but people wrote applications that would allow you to receive a message while you were in the free area. You could then compose your message, click send and it would jump you to the Pay area for just long enough to send your message and then jump you right back into the Free area. That way, you could make your 700 minutes last all month.

            1. ThursdaysGeek

              I still have my collection of AOL CDs (and a few floppies, but since those could be used for real purposes, it was harder to just keep them). Someday, I’ll sell the entire collection on EBay.

            2. Chinook

              “You had to use the “pay” area to chat, but people wrote applications that would allow you to receive a message while you were in the free area.”

              I did something old school like that when I was travelling and couldn’t afford internet at home. Iw ould literally download all my emails onto a floppy at an internet cafe, take them home, read/reply/save on the floppy, and then upload them on my next visit. My emails literally had a 7 day turn around time.

          2. chewbecca

            My company still uses AIM as our instant message platform.

            This is also a company who employs an IT person who I once overheard saying that she doesn’t text because she doesn’t understand it.

      2. FD

        Yep.

        Short version, IIRC it was a free e-mail account before free e-mail accounts were common. It subsidized itself by putting super intrusive ads into the footer of your e-mail and the like. Usually super sketchy ones too, like “Loose 20 pounds in five days with this crazy trick THEY don’t want you to know” etc etc.

      3. Dynamic Beige

        I’ve never heard of Juno, either, and I didn’t just graduate in the last few years. I do remember Geocities though!

    2. Meredith

      My boyfriend has a Netscape email address. He gets a kick out of it, but he also has a personal Gmail account for more formal stuff.

      1. Persephone Mulberry

        My husband has had one email address for his entire online life (AOL, of course). He checks it about once a month, tops. The magnitude of junk mail he gets is amazing, and I don’t even want to think about his spam folder.

        Anything in our current life that requires an email address, even “his” stuff like his student loan statements, comes to one of my inboxes.

    3. TotesMaGoats

      It was my first email and I still use it for junk and sign ups and things. So my personal gmail doesn’t get flooded with ads from Pottery Barn or Kohls.

      1. Witty Nickname

        This is why I keep my yahoo email. If I don’t know you personally, you get the yahoo email. I have gmail for people I know, and would set up a separate gmail account if I was job searching.

        I tried to join my university’s alumni group on Facebook several years ago and couldn’t because I graduated at a time when you could get a university email address (I think I got mine like 2 months before I graduated), but you weren’t able to keep it once you were no longer a student there. No university email, no membership in the group.

        I won’t admit how long it took me to give up my Netzero dial up and switch over to cable internet. ;)

    4. Mander

      Eh, I still use my old Juno account on a fairly regular basis (though I’ve switched to gmail for anything job search related). My Dad always emails me on that address, for instance. But I pay the $9 a year or whatever it is to not have ads in my email, and I use Thunderbird on my computer to actually send and receive messages. The only time I use their horrible web interface is when I want to block a sender.

  15. AnonSequitur

    In re: corporate credit cards – I’m an internal auditor and have seen my fair share of corporate credit card shenanigans. Like a guy who charged an engagement ring on his corporate card. Corporate card programs are expensive to administer and monitor, so I get why a business would go the reimbursement via expense report route. That said, three weeks for reimbursement is excessive.

    1. Natalie

      I’m not sure that’s universally true, although I imagine a lot of programs are badly designed. Corporate cards at my company are issued in the name of the user and impact their credit, the company just pays the bills. If you’re not submitting your reports in time they’ll stop paying, and AmEx is coming after the employee. And we use the exact same system we use for cash reimbursements to identify each charge and attach a receipt, so the review process for a company card is identical to an out of pocket expense.

      1. baseballfan

        This is my experience with corporate cards. It’s not a card the company is responsible for paying; it’s a company branded card in the employee’s name, for which the employee pays the bill.

        Otherwise yes, how could a company prevent someone from going on a shopping spree on the company dime?

        1. Dynamic Beige

          Someone I worked with was fired for charging “massages”, office furnishings and dope on their corporate card. It was quite the scandal. It was like they didn’t know the bill would be sent to the company for everyone in Accounting to see.

        2. Witty Nickname

          I have a corporate card where the card has my name on it, but the bill goes to the company, and the card is in the company’s name. It doesn’t impact my credit at all. I am responsible for submitting my expense reports in a timely manner, itemizing the charges, attaching the receipts, and submitting the business justification (and pre-approval when required).

          I’m not sure about my current card, but the card I previously had also had a block on it so that I couldn’t use it at a retail establishment (that lunch at the really cool Macy’s lunch counter in Minneapolis? Nope! Also, many taxis are categorized as retail for some reason). It wasn’t possible to go on a shopping spree with it, and I would have definitely been caught if I had wanted to and figured out a way to get around the retail block anyway.

      2. Parcae

        But in that case, what happens when the employee has damaged credit? Can the company guarantee the card in some way? I can’t really see Amex issuing cards to everyone who ever has need of a corporate card.

        1. Natalie

          Interesting question – I’m not sure about that. Perhaps AmEx is more willing to extend credit because they know the company is almost certainly paying for every single charge.

          In our office it’s never come up, as my boss is the only one with a corporate card and he just gives it to us if someone else needs to book plane tickets or whatever.

          1. Parcae

            See, I think that’s why my nonprofit uses corporate cards issued to the organization. It makes our auditors jumpy, but I can’t for the life of me think of a better solution. We have employees who travel a lot, sometimes for multiple weeks at a time, and asking them to front the money is a total no-go. At the same time, insisting on decent credit as a condition of employment would rule out a lot of fantastic potential employees.

        2. Anon for this comment

          Amex has a secondary screening process, and the company can vouch for the employee in question. I have a bankruptcy in my past, but was able to get an Amex corporate card when my job required it a couple of years ago.

          1. Parcae

            Hmm, interesting! It sounds like individually issued cards might be a good solution for us, then. I hope that our employees who are opposed to credit cards for personal use would be willing to open one for business purposes. I think I’ll raise the possibility with our CFO.

        3. Anonamouse

          Amex will issue a corporate card to those that have bad credit if the company signs a guarantee. Those cards have lower limits and look like the regular cards. Our employees have to submit reimbursements for the company to make payments but if that doesn’t occur Amex goes back to the company for collections instead of the employee.

  16. YandO

    “Hell, yes, it’s unethical. ”

    I strongly disagree, Alison

    Every company has different reimbursement procedures and they are stated up front. It is the responsibility of the employee to make sure to pay their credit cards on time, if they do not have the funds to do it, then they should say so in advance and not take on travel/expenses they cannot afford.

    Companies are absolutely not responsible for interest on credit cards. Not to mention that no interest would have been charged in 3 weeks. Zero interest. A billing cycle is 28 days and even then, only if you charged it at the beginning of it.

    I worked in expense/reimbursement role and this is absolutely standard. Our reimbursement time was 6+ weeks and expenses were many thousands a month. Granted individuals spending that kind money were paid more than enough to afford it.

    1. BRR

      “Every company has different reimbursement procedures and they are stated up front.”

      Not every company and some companies state (like my last one), “Submit receipts and we will reimburse you as soon as possible.” For them that meant 4-6 weeks.

      1. Not an IT Guy

        I’ll take 4-6 weeks over three years…which was how long my company took to reimburse me for my last expense report.

    2. Merry and Bright

      If the employer causes the OP to incur interest, late payment fees or whatever because of their own late payment it is completely unethical to make the OP pick up the tab for this; nor should the OP be blamed for this.

      Whether the reimbursement period is 3 weeks or 6 weeks hardly matters on this scale as both are out of order. No employer should ever be harming their employees’ credit histories like this. Most employees are not so highly paid that they can carry high expenses on their cards without the employer settling quickly.

      1. Apollo Warbucks

        Where did you get the idea that the OP’s credit rating had been harmed? As long as the transaction stays with in the card’s credit limit and the minimum payment is made, then there’s no harm done.

        1. Dan

          Well technically the utilization rate is higher, even with the balance paid in full by the due date, and utilization has a huge impact on credit score.

          Granted, that is a temporary blip that goes away in 30 days. But if I have one card with a $3k limit, and I have a recurring $2k expense from my company, I have a utilization rate of 66% which is actually going to hurt my score a lot.

          1. Chriama

            Utilization doesn’t show historical data, and the effect is negligible. If you wanted to apply for a mortgage in the next 30 days, yes, I could see you not wanting to carry that balance at the same time, but credit score fluctuations are normal and this wouldn’t actually harm the OP.

            1. Dan

              Your first statement is true in that utilization is not a historical number. Your second statement is patently false, utilization is the second most important factor in your credit score, only late payment history counts more.

              1. Chriama

                But it’s not lingering, so again, unless OP is in the middle of trying to buy a house, it’s a negligible effect. There’s no prize for keeping your credit score above a certain point for so many days, and there’s no penalty if your score happens to dip for a month or 2.

        2. "I say let the world go to hell, but I should always have my tea."

          That is a very true and fair point when you are just talking about your own day-to-day expenses for groceries, rent, travel costs to work and so on, whether you put these on a credit card, or pay by cash or bank transfer. Then you can draw up a budget to cover these things and work within your limits. But if you then add your employer’s business expenses to this, and you are on a very tight budget, then it might be very difficult to factor this extra cost in, minimum payment or not. So if you incur interest fees on the employer’s behalf because they have reimbursed you slowly, and if you struggle to meet the minimum payment, that could easily harm your rating. Add to that, if you are walking a tightrope because you are rebuilding your finances due to problems in the past, it hits you harder still.

    3. Cheesecake

      I can travel to another part of the world in +-24 hours and it takes you 6 weeks to reimburse?

    4. Samantha

      First, as discussed up thread, it is certainly possible to incur interest in three weeks – not all credit cards work the same way. And six plus weeks is crazy. The business is effectively using its employees for interest-free loans. And you also can’t assume someone can afford to do this for the company based on their salary – what if they have a mountain of medical bills, student loan debt, etc.? It’s not appropriate. The business should be the one to incur business expenses, especially to the tune of a couple thousand dollars.

    5. TeapotCounsel

      Wow. I really disagree with the disagreement.
      1. “It is the responsibility of the employee to make sure to pay their credit cards on time”
      Says who? Isn’t that the whole point of credit cards, i.e., to borrow the money. I’m not saying that using credit cards or borrowing money is a good idea (it’s not), but I don’t see why the employer should be able to get the benefit of assuming its employees are models of financial stability.
      2. “Companies are absolutely not responsible for interest on credit cards.”
      Why not? Why are individual consumers responsible for interest, but companies aren’t? Why do companies get to borrow money for free, but the rest of us schlubs have to pay the juice?
      3. “Not to mention that no interest would have been charged in 3 weeks. Zero interest. A billing cycle is 28 days and even then, only if you charged it at the beginning of it.”
      Depends on the card. It’s not universally true. Also, some cards require an annual fee. Does the company get a bye on its appropriate proportion of that expense, too?
      4. “I worked in expense/reimbursement role and this is absolutely standard.”
      Maybe for your company. For mine, it’s not.
      5. “Our reimbursement time was 6+ weeks and expenses were many thousands a month.”
      That is unconscionable. It really is. If you don’t think it is, ask yourself, ‘Self, would I be cool with my paycheck being six weeks delayed?’ Probably not. Also, would you be willing to loan me “many thousands a month” at zero percent interest, ‘cuz that would be awesome! Again, probably not.

      1. C Average

        I don’t know enough about this topic to have a strong point of view, but I quite enjoyed your point-by-point breakdown. +1 for the use of the word “schlub,” which doesn’t get nearly enough play.

      2. sunny-dee

        Actually, in my company, a minimum amount of financial viability is stated and required. This is mainly for the roles with a lot of travel, but it is required that they be able to have X-thousand dollars on credit for up to a month without reimbursement. They also don’t pay late fees, interest, or other fees, only the balance.

    6. MsM

      If it was stated up front, then why did the company have to send around an email clarifying the interest thing?

      1. Natalie

        Eh, this is something that would happen in my company. If I go dig up our expense reimbursement policy, wherever that is, I’m seem to recall it says that the company doesn’t reimburse for interest, penalties, parking tickets, and so forth. But it so rarely comes up that if someone were to submit reimbursement for credit card interest, we would all get a passive aggressive email reminding us of the policy.

    7. Observer

      Not to mention that no interest would have been charged in 3 weeks. Zero interest. A billing cycle is 28 days and even then, only if you charged it at the beginning of it.

      As others have pointed out, this is simply not true in many cases. And, also pointed out by others, in many cases the reimbursement process means that the 3 weeks does not start will a few days later.

      Every company has different reimbursement procedures and they are stated up front. It is the responsibility of the employee to make sure to pay their credit cards on time, if they do not have the funds to do it, then they should say so in advance and not take on travel/expenses they cannot afford.

      You really think that the OP took on $2k of expenses VOLUNTARILY? In my experience, people who worry about $60 reimbursements do NOT ever do that.

      1. Elsajeni

        One thing I have definitely learned from this thread: credit cards have many different billing-cycle and interest-charge arrangements, and everyone thinks theirs is the standard common-sense one. (Actually, I kind of suspect this is the root of the problem — the OP thought “They know how this stuff works, they’ll know that this is incurring interest,” her employer thought “She knows how this stuff works, she’ll know we won’t reimburse interest and fees,” and neither of them felt they needed to check their version of “how this stuff works” against the other person’s because, hey, it’s just common sense.)

        1. Zahra

          And laws differ from place to place. In Quebec, they cannot charge interest on charges incurred during the last billing cycle and if there is an amount remaining after paying interest and current charges, it must be divided between charges according to their “weight” (usually when you have “6 months free, then interest” agreements, that carry different interest rates than regular purchases) or against the total of the remaining amount.

    8. Joey

      Gimme a break. Biased much? I hope you tell folks up front that part of their salary will have to cover the businesses expenses.

      So you pay six weeks after reimbursements are submitted? Don’t you know your poor schlubs who aren’t high enough on the totem pole to have access to a corporate card have are financing business expenses?

    9. LQ

      So why are you holding the OP to their loan terms but ignoring loan terms for the business? The business is getting a loan from the employee for free. Completely and totally free, which they are requiring the OP to give them to keep their job. And then not only give them the loan for free but to actually pay for the privileged of loaning the business that requires them to loan them the money to stay employed.

      How is this ethical?

      1. Mike C.

        Seriously, do we really need to go through a list of things that were standard at various points in time?

    10. Cassie

      I had some students who submitted their receipts to their admin a year earlier and the reimbursements STILL were not processed. The admin admitted herself that the requests she submitted kept getting rejected (probably because she didn’t quite understand all the policies) so she just stopped submitting them. Really sucked for the students!

  17. jhhj

    Our typical reimbursement for employees is to cover their educational fees — but we only pay them if they pass the courses. So we make everyone float the course fees (typically between 3 and 4 hundred) for the entire semester. But when they pass the courses, they get the fees reimbursed — we don’t pay their interest charges if they paid late, but we pay all the associated course fees — and also a bonus. It doesn’t feel like an unfair business practice.

    (There are occasional training courses that they need for work, which we pay for up front including hotel costs and reimburse mileage if appropriate after the course — I’m talking about classes to get university degrees. We don’t have people buying things for work out of their own pockets.)

      1. jhhj

        Yes, but they’re also obliged to do it by the government and I guess secondarily by us — if they don’t, they lose their eligibility to do the work and we will fire them.

        1. Chriama

          That’s a little on the iffy side. If taking the course is a condition of their employment, it shouldn’t be on the employee to finance it. I’m assuming this is something like teacher or accountant where you need to take so many hours of training each year in order to keep your license? In that case, I suppose it’s just a condition of working in that industry, and it’s better to have an employer who will reimburse you for that expense than one who expects you to keep your license up to date but refund you the associated fees.

          1. jhhj

            Something like teacher, yes. I think it’s essentially that we don’t pay for failed courses, and it’s hard to get the money back at the end.

            There have been times we’ve paid the fees from day one, for long-term employees. And I suppose if they were paying more than an occasional 300/semester, we’d reconsider. But no one has ever complained. Pay 300, and once you pass the course — we pay up front for tutors/mentors as needed — we will refund all fees (photocopy fees, graduation fees, etc) and give you a bonus of usually 300 per course at the end.

            Never occurred to me that this might be considered asking an employee to float a business expense (and I’m not going to suggest changing the setup as no one has complained about it). I don’t know — do accountants and lawyers and teachers typically pay for their further training?

  18. Brett

    #2 My employers policy, wondering how many of these others encounter:
    No reimbursement of interest/fees
    No reimbursement of sales tax
    Miles earned are property of the employer
    Statements and receipts must be submitted (so process does not start until you receive your statement)

    We are a tax exempt entity, so the sales tax part is because employees have access to tax letters (so you never fill up a rental car on your own card). Three is because of vendor perk rules. Four is to prevent fraud (make a charge, get the receipt, then have the charge reversed).
    In fairness, our agency is very good about making corporate travel cards available and issuing anticipated expense checks before travel if a corporate card cannot be used.

    1. Ann Furthermore

      I’ve heard of company keeping the frequent flyer miles employees earn for themselves, and I really think it’s a stingy, crappy thing to do. I travel quite a bit, so I would raise hell if my company tried to implement a policy like that.

      Some people have the perception that business travel is somehow glamorous. Maybe it was, back in the day. Let me tell you though, it’s anything but. Being crammed into ever-shrinking coach seats, delayed flights, fighting for space in the overhead, and lost luggage all take the shine off the “glamour” of business travel pretty quickly. And yeah, it’s nice to stay in hotels up to a point, where someone comes in each day and makes your bed and leaves you a fresh set of towels, but after awhile you just want to be home, sleeping in your own bed. If you have a family, it’s really hard being away for extended periods of time. It’s hard on your kids, and it’s hard on your spouse, who has to pick up the slack while you’re gone.

      My last round of travel was in January, and it was only for a week. But on the last day, I woke up feeling queasy and horrible, and I’m pretty sure it was the result of a week of heavy, catered lunches and eating out every night. Ugh. I’m traveling again next week. It will be 3 weeks on the road, and I’m dreading it.

      Traveling for work is hard. The frequent flyer miles are a well-deserved perk that don’t cost the employer anything.

      1. Monodon monoceros

        I totally agree. I travel 1-2 weeks per month, and although sometimes it is fun, it is pretty draining. Seeing my airline miles and hotel points add up makes me feel a bit better when I’m getting fed up with hotels and eating out (pretty sad when you are wishing you could have just some toast instead of going out to eat again). But then again, with all the work travel, I can’t even schedule a personal trip to use my miles and points, so there’s that. First world problems, I guess…

        1. Ann Furthermore

          I know. I realize that many people would happily travel in exchange for having a job. But it really does take a toll on you. When I woke up feeling nauseous, I didn’t have anything with me to take for it. I ended up spending $5 for 4 chewable Pepto-Bismol tablets from the hotel mini-drugstore. But I was happy to pay it, and it did the trick.

          1. Monodon monoceros

            I am forever buying things that are either way too expensive because I’m buying them at the hotel or in an airport, or stuff that I already have but forgot. I have a drawer full of electrical adapters because I am constantly forgetting them. After the last time I forgot mine I put some in my suitcase, but then of course my cat puked in the suitcase while I was packing and when cleaning that out I forgot to put the adapters back in. So I bought yet another Europe to North America adapter….

              1. AnonAnalyst

                Yes, those and phone chargers! My dad forgot his once when he was traveling and asked the front desk where he might buy one nearby, and they hauled out a huge plastic bin full of them, telling him that if there were any that would work for his phone he could keep it.

              2. Monodon monoceros

                I’ve never found a hotel that let me have a free one. Usually they charge something. The last hotel charged me 5 bucks. Cheap, but I still wish I didn’t have to pay 5 bucks for something I have 4 or 5 of already at home.

  19. Lydia

    I was really surprised by the answer to #2. We (husband and I) work in academia, where this is 100% standard. Is it unfortunate and classist? Absolutely. But it’s absolutely expected and normal and you have to figure out how to deal with it. We just fronted almost $3000 for a trip to a conference in June – we will get all of that back from the university, but not until AFTER the conference, and probably well after (like August). If the only way to finance it is my personal credit card, then I’m on hook for the interest. I know that in advance and I deal – this is not something I would be expecting the university to pay for, ever. (We have had this exact situation happen to us many times and always either paid the interest or borrowed the money from family and moved on.) It would not be considered appropriate to expect your university to pay your interest or your late fees on your personal bills. And reimbursements typically take 2 or 3 months or longer so it’s not a simple “take reimbursement check and pay bill” – you need to budget in advance and pay your own bills until that money comes through.
    It cuts the other way for us now – we put those expenses on a card where we get 2% shaved off the bill automatically (like cash back but you never pay them the cash in the first place you just keep it). So that’s $60 in my pocket – the university reimburses the full cost of everything based in actual receipts, and I only have to pay the credit card the full cost minus 2%.
    It’s an unfortunate situation, yes, but some advance planning would have eliminated this problem. I understand that $60 is a lot of money to some – that used to be an entire MONTH’S income for me. But if it’s a normal and expected part of your job, you work out some other arrangement like a grownup and you make arrangements with your employer before the travel. You don’t wait until after the fact and expect your employer to cover your lack of due diligence.

    1. Meg Murry

      I’ve worked in academia, and I know this is often standard business practice there. However, our college had an option to get a travel advance, although it was purposely not well publicized, and there was paperwork that had to be filled out at the controllers office, in person (not available online). There was lots of paperwork to fill out saying that if you didn’t turn in your receipts within a certain timeframe the advance would be taken out of your paycheck and/or dealt with as extra pay with taxes taken out.
      A lot of people thought that having to pay up front and be reimbursed months later was the SOP and were surprised to hear that a travel advance was an option because it was so thoroughly hidden. You might want to ask your controller’s office (or whoever processes reimbursement paperwork) or read through their (probably 100 page) travel policy to see if there is something hidden in there about travel advances before your next conference.

      1. Cassie

        Our university basically got rid of travel advances – they used to be much more common when credit cards were not that common (just back in the early 2000s!). I wonder what they would do if someone didn’t have a credit card and it was too late to get a corporate travel card. Probably just prepay the flight? Although hotels usually require credit cards… I guess in a bind, we could ask the hotel if they would accept a purchase order. I haven’t had to deal with this situation, luckily.

    2. Cheesecake

      I am completely baffled by “blame the victim” comments. Putting business expense on a personal credit card is not ok. Waiting for 3 weeks to be reimbursed is not ok. Incurring extra expenses because of that – be it $1 or $60 is not ok. OP’s responsibility is to show up and do his job. Business’s responsibility is to have money to pay his salary AND expenses. What does it have to do with growing up? I find it a bit insulting tbh

      1. Dan

        Since when is putting business expenses on a personal credit card not OK? That’s sop at a lot of places.

        1. Cheesecake

          Since common sense exists. Stuff happens: the other day my corporate cc did not work, i paid some stuff with my personal cc and got reimbursed, no big deal. Expecting employee to bear business expense of a couple thousand bucks is a big deal.

        2. Joey

          Whoa! Why is it okay to personally finance a businesses expenses, but not okay the other way around. When my employer starts loaning me money so I can avoid interest and fees for my expenses I’ll be okay with doing the same for them.

          1. Cat

            I think having the option is reasonable. Plenty of people want to put business expenses on personal cards to get the cash back. It’s when it’s mandatory that it’s a problem.

          2. Laurel Gray

            This. Just because it works for some people and they have adjusted – and have salaries/savings that allow it, doesn’t make it okay. A starter college accounting course would basically explain how this kind of arrangement is personally financing a business and affecting their cash flow

        3. Zahra

          It’s SOP in a lot of places to forbid employees to talk about job conditions (including salary), but it’s illegal, thus not OK.
          It’s SOP in a lot of places to never get back to candidates about a job, even after an interview, but it’s rude as hell (= not OK).
          It’s SOP in the tech/video games industry to make it an unwelcoming place for women, and it often straddles or crosses the “hostile workplace” threshold. Is it OK?

          Just because something is SOP doesn’t mean it’s OK.

          1. fposte

            Right. I think just because a policy hasn’t made our hackles rise personally doesn’t mean it’s an okay one for our workplace to have.

          2. Not So NewReader

            Bingo. I am hoping we have changes in SOPs in years to come. But it sure seems like a slow process.

      2. Natalie

        I think this is one the situations where we run into the “how things should be” vs “how things are” issue. Maybe it shouldn’t be policy at the OP’s work, but it is. (And FWIW my company doesn’t reimburse for interest or late fees either; I don’t think it’s that uncommon). If the OP could go back in time, they probably should have done something differently, whether that was pushing back on the expenses, getting an advance from the company, not waiting for reimbursement to pay their CC, etc.

    3. fposte

      Same with me, but that’s one of the ways in which academia sucks. It’s not a model that makes it a good or even okay plan to act this way.

    4. Cat

      I’m going to take this tangentially related opportunity to share an academia reimbursement story about which I’m still bitter. When I was an undergraduate, I took a seminar where the class has to pool together to put on an exhibition. I bought $140 of foam board to make the display and, as instructed, gave the receipt to our TA for reimbursement. I asked him a couple of times over the semester about it and he glared at me and said something like “stop hassling me about this, I’m working on my thesis and it’s really stressful.” I was young and non-confrontational and impressed by his business and didn’t make a huge fuss about it and NEVER GOT REIMBURSED.

      In retrospect, who thinks it’s okay to guilt a 21-year-old out of asking for $140 back? Good lord. Every time one of my friends in academia tells me about the latest shenanigans their university is pulling on reimbursing them for travel (and their always seems to be something), I think of that story. It seems to be endemically messed up.

      1. the_scientist

        Yes, academic shenanigans around reimbursement are the WORST. I had a friend whose supervisor was all “sure, book that $6000 (a year’s tuition and a quarter’s salary) plane ticket for a research trip; I’ll reimburse it” and then when my friend tried to get her money back it was like “oh, I actually don’t know if I can cover it”. Luckily my friend got her $$- but she had to push more than she should have.

        This is a tangent but I happen to think it’s appalling that graduate students are expected to shoulder the burden of attending conferences. In my opinion, conferences are part of professional development for students and if faculty members can’t afford to help their students with them, they should seriously reconsider taking trainees on. My graduate department offered a piddling $200 per student over 2 years which will cover……..nothing. Multi-day conference registrations, even for students, routinely run $400-$500, not to mention travel and lodging costs. It was expected that our supervisors help out but in reality that almost never happened. I do understand that 100% coverage isn’t likely or even reasonable given the recent cuts to research funding, but if you’re going to pay your students poverty wages to begin with you can’t reasonably expect them to afford international conference travel.

        1. Dr. Doll

          Conferences are the least of it. How about taking on grad students for the express purposes of having cheap teachers and pumping up your own cv, convincing them that the only worthwhile path in life is the tenure track, and then setting them off into a job market in which a tenure-track position gets 600 applications, 300 of which are from people with PhDs from Harvard, Princeton, and Cambridge?

          the_scientist, your friend’s supervisor *stinks*.

        2. Chriama

          Academia can be the worst! I was a grader once and didn’t end up getting paid until the next semester because the grad student TA-ing the class didn’t get us to fill out the relevant forms — so we were technically not even hired when we were doing the work. And one time I didn’t get paid because we had a system where one person created the timesheets for everyone and then we just had to sign them, but she didn’t create the timesheets until the day before Christmas break (when everyone with earlier exams had already left) and no one could sign them. My supervisor said she wasn’t sure accounting would pay us for that since our timesheets were overdue, but we did eventually get it — 2 months later. Honestly, I think it’s tough as an undergraduate because everyone assumes you don’t really need the money — you have parents and student loans for that! – but it must be even worse at the staff or faculty level because you’re expected to pay for things out of pocket. I think it’s because the conferences and travel usually bring value to you personally (getting your name out in the field, networking, etc) and not just to the university, so even if they didn’t reimburse you at all you’d still want to go. That doesn’t make it ok though.

          1. the_scientist

            I also had a boss that would frequently ask students to purchase supplies for research activities (interviews, focus groups, office supplies) using their personal credit card and then submit the receipt for expenses. I did the expense reimbursements so I was always really, really prompt with them (like the same day the receipts arrived) but I also went behind my boss’s back and did whatever I could to ensure that our *undergraduate STUDENTS* weren’t being asked to essentially loan us money for necessary supplies. Yes, these were typically small amounts ($25-$50) but I’m recently enough out of school to remember when that was a big deal. Even now, $50 is like a week’s groceries for me! My boss (who was not a wealthy corporate CEO by any stretch, this is the nonprofit research world we’re talking about) did not seem at all bothered about students essentially loaning us money, and there was less than zero way the company would have paid the interest. I never understood- I mean, we both had purchasing cards that were PIN-enabled!

            1. Cassie

              If I could offer 1 suggestion to all those students out there who are waiting for reimbursements – please follow up and/or bug the admins! If you don’t, most likely they won’t follow up, and by the time someone remembers, it might be too late.

              Same thing with not getting paid (salary) – forget the professor/TA, find out who the accounting/payroll people are and ask them. By law, we have to pay people for the hours they worked, even if they weren’t hired properly or whatever. The professor might give you the run around but good staff will not.

    5. Joey

      Screw that. It’s cheap and you’re making it sound like it’s okay. It’s not. It’s asking employees to pay the businesses expenses out of their own pockets. its a credit card for the university with no interest and no fees. What a deal, huh? If they’re going to pull this crap the least they should do is front money in advance for stuff that has to be bought well in advance then quickly turn around reimbursements for other stuff.

      1. fposte

        My university makes it better than some, in that I can get airfare and registrations paid for on the university card in advance, and the reimbursements for hotel and incidentals are now down to under two weeks.

        1. Joey

          Mine does that too but also fronts a per diem based on the location of travel. It’s only things that exceed the per diem that get reviewed for reimbursement.

          1. Natalie

            Ugh, I wish we would switch to a per diem instead of having to enter an expense for every Starbucks and bag of peanuts my boss buys when he travels. So much easier!

            1. Windchime

              Yes, I love the per diem. Some days I spend more, some days less but it’s all covered under the per diem so it’s really easy. I just say how many days I was gone and I get the per diem for that.

              We are requested to book travel and hotel under our own credit card, but reimbursement are pretty fast. I usually book the flight and request reimbursement for that right away, before the trip. Then when I get home, I immediately request reimbursement for the rest (hotel, per diem, incidentals like cabs or shuttles). The actual training (if that’s where I’m going) is paid by way of a purchase order, so I am assuming that the rest of the expenses could be done that way if a person didn’t have a credit card or was unable/unwilling to use it. Nobody has a corporate card that I know of.

              1. Dynamic Beige

                That depends on how much your per diem is, what you’re meant to cover with it and where you are.

                Sometimes, I get per diem. If it’s the “here’s $X, if you buy a chocolate bar, we don’t want to see the receipt” kind, fine. If it’s the “here’s $X, which you will use to pay for all your expenses, including meals, parking, transportation (cabs), etc.” Uh, we’re going to have a discussion about that in terms of how long I get for meal breaks (which is a big issue) and if there are less expensive options nearby. You cannot give someone $20 and expect that that will pay for 3 meals a day at Atlantis Paradise Island or other resort in the middle of nowhere.

    6. LBK

      It would not be considered appropriate to expect your university to pay your interest or your late fees on your personal bills.

      But these are not your personal bills. They’re the university’s bills that they forced you to charge on your own card.

      I hope you realize you’re probably not making out on that 2% deal either because (unless you make enough to pay off the whole amount in the first month without having the reimbursement yet) you’re paying way more than that in interest over the 3 months or whatever it takes your university to pay you back.

      And either way, not every card has rewards like that, plus it’s just the principle of the fact that even if it’s a wash financially, it shouldn’t have to wash – it’s flat-out unethical for a business to force their employees to pick up unreimbursed costs, whether you can afford to pay them or not.

    7. Sue Wilson

      How do you say something is classist and then say that it’s about being a grown-up? Maybe think about that a little more.

    8. blackcat

      Yes, this has been my experience, too.

      That, and that fees for using a card for overseas expenses are not reimbursed at all. I’ve eaten $100 in credit card fees for international travel.

  20. Allison

    #4: I’m wondering why the OP wants to hang out with their boss’s ex-wife. Seems like, regardless of gender or whether they intend to date, that’s a recipe for an awkward situation at best. Being forbidden from doing this may seem extreme, but I can’t see why doing it would be a good idea.

    1. Lily in NYC

      There is really not enough info for me to have an opinion, which is frustrating. It might be a platonic, same-sex friend. It might be a romantic interest. It might be a toxic relationship. It’s just so vague.

    2. Not So NewReader

      This. It could be a relationship that existed before OP worked for the boss. But for the most part I think, “ugh!” Unless OP has extraordinary luck, I can’t see where this will go well. It’s already off to a rocky start with the boss telling her not to hang out with his ex.

      OP, we don’t know what goes on behind closed doors. Some people have home lives that are unreal. You could think you are in a benign situation and suddenly find out you kicked a hornet’s nest. Or you could think that your friendship trumps all, well, the boss is saying it doesn’t.
      Perhaps the point is a big enough deal that you want to move on to another job. But if you need to keep this job, then you may need to reconsider.
      The thing about relationships is that there is always just “one more thing” to learn, meaning one more layer of complexity that you did not know about. In the end, you could possibly end up knowing way too much about both people and no longer be able to maintain a relationship with either one. In the process, it could cost you your job.

      Please tread carefully here.

  21. Alistair

    The expenses and credit card discussion is always interesting to me, especially the talk of cash advances and corporate cards. That might be well and good for many, but it doesn’t always work. We have asked, many times for corporate cards, and have always been turned down; I don’t know why. Too small?

    And our business is often last minute travel. If I have a week between learning of a trip and leaving, I consider it a luxury. My worst was setting up the next trip while on the current one. Two to three days before a multi-day cross-country trip is common. Getting a cash advance is (probably) not possible on such short notice.

    So in these type of cases, what does one do? I have no choice but to put my expenses on a personal card (though I do have one card devoted to business only).

    It’s probably not quite fair, but I keep my points, and the don’t pay my intetest. On the other hand, my points paid for almost all of my $600 table saw last Christmas.

    1. Joey

      That’s crap. Business have the same banks we do. When you have money in your account has your bank ever told you it’s going to take multiple days before you can withdraw money?

      1. baseballfan

        As far as the bank is concerned the money could probably be drawn instantly but the time consuming factor is the company’s process and paperwork.

        I used to travel a lot for business and often last minute and wouldn’t have dreamed of even asking for a cash advance, which wouldn’t have been given anyway because we had corporate credit cards. The accounting would be an enormous hassle.

        1. Joey

          In other words it’s just not a very high priority to take care of employees whove loaned the business money

        2. Monodon monoceros

          What if it’s an enormous hassle for the employee to have to front the money for a business expense?

      2. sunny-dee

        Yeah, actually. It takes 3-5 days to transfer money between accounts at different banks.

  22. JW

    #1- a few employees at my company work 20% less- and they get paid 20% less too. I assume that’s what is happening here.

  23. illini02

    #2 I’m not sure how I feel about this. 3 weeks doesn’t seem exceptionally long to reimburse business expenses, if you factor in when receipts were turned in and when the pay cycle was. So while I think it would be a nice thing to pay accrued interest, and that for employee relations they should, I don’t know that I think its unethical either. It seems it was just rough luck of when timing worked out. If the charge was made on the 1st of the month, and you got your money 3 weeks later, it wouldn’t be a big deal. If they waited over a month, when that would definitely happen, that would be one thing. This just seems like a timing issue.

    #4 I guess I need more context in this to really know if its shady or not on the boss’ part. If you met her out randomly, started dating her, then found out that she was your boss’ ex, I think he is completely in the wrong. If you always had a thing for her, then made your move when they got divorced, you are kind of a jerk. I’m not a fan of boss’ dictating employees personal lives in general, but if its the 2nd case, I can kind of understand it from a personal level.

    1. LBK

      #1 I totally disagree that it’s not unethical for employers to not reimburse employees for costs they would not have accrued if not for the business and that they had no choice whether to take on. I can’t see any way that’s acceptable, regardless of amount or context.

      #4 I don’t think it’s about whether the OP is a jerk or not (although the letter doesn’t say if they’re dating? I actually assumed the OP and ex were both straight women who were just friends). Even if you learned someone was your boss’s ex after the fact, it’s not smart to keep getting close to that person while you still work for their ex, for a multitude of reasons.

    2. Chriama

      The thing is, if the timing issue was due to actions the company had control over, that’s not ok. If their process is so long that you’re carrying a balance from one statement period to the next, that’s not ‘unfortunate’, it’s downright unethical. If the delay was because OP took a long time to submit receipts, that’s unfortunate.

      1. sunny-dee

        Or they do expense checks on a different cycle than pay checks. My husband’s company sends reimbursement checks out once a month; my company does it weekly. Both of those policies are known and employees are expected to adapt accordingly.

  24. majigail

    The email address discussion is interesting to me. I’m always surprised when I see an AOL, Juno, AIM, Netscape, Prodigy, etc email address. Honestly, it’s often biased me against that candidate to think that they may not have great computer or technical skills. In a job where the person isn’t doing much computer work, not a big deal. But if this is a person who I’m asking to do mail merges, work with a database, etc, it will make me think twice.

    1. Katie the Fed

      Yes – it’s very interesting. In early stages of an application process the hiring manager has so little info on you, and any piece of information might be used. AOL strikes me as strange. Hotmail strikes me as a little old school, but not that bad. Yahoo more normal. Gmail is probably the golden standard.

        1. Katie the Fed

          Maybe? Or tech savviness? Neither really matters at all – I would interview or make decisions the same way regardless. Just funny that we have reactions to email addresses. I would probably do a double take if I saw Juno thought because it’s been at least 15 years since I saw a Juno address.

          The only time I really care about an email address is if the handle is something like ‘fratboykegstand” or “hotkitty69.” Then I have to question your judgement.

        2. LQ

          I don’t really think so. A lot of the people who thought computers were just a fad and the internet would go away didn’t get an email account when it was AOL, they waited until gmail (at least this is true for the people in their 70s and 80s I’ve set up in the last couple years). But I know a couple people in their early 30s who have aol or hotmail accounts (no amount of pleading to at least get something better for sending resumes seems to help ).

          The only age thing I can think of is it would be very odd to see someone in their 20s or younger with an AOL account, but other than that I think they aren’t really all that correlated.

          1. Joey

            Oh cmon. Of course there are exceptions, but how does having gmail mean you’re probably more tech savvy than someone who has yahoo or hotmail. It’s simply means the person has a newer email address and probably wasn’t around when older email accounts were big.

            1. LQ

              Well for these people it is because they have emails like “kewlkid23” or “imawesome1978”. If someone has a “firstname.lastname” or some variant at hotmail or yahoo it’s not a concern. Heck if someone had a firstname.lastname at aol I would be like Go you!

              And for the record I said people in their 80s who just got set up with computers have gmail.

              1. Zahra

                Heck, my Hotmail address dates back to before Hotmail being bought by Microsoft and to the days when you had 8 characters (and I’m not sure you could have periods or underscores in the address). Even John Smith is 9 characters. However, I apply with my university email address or a neutral Gmail address.

              2. Muriel Heslop

                I still use my AOL account – first name, last name. I’ve had it since 1995 and cannot bring myself to close it. All of my shopping emails go to it. I use gmail for my primary, of course.

    2. baseballfan

      I absolutely judge email addresses and domains and have much the same reaction as this.

      Yahoo or hotmail I will give a pass to, but if you have an aol.com email address, I’m going to assume you’re not very technology savvy or aware of current trends.

      I once was contacted by a consultant who had an aol.com email address. Why on earth would you not set up your own domain and your own email? (This was someone pitching work to a Fortune 100 company, not a mom and pop CPA firm).

      1. Joey

        Either that or they just got an email account a long time ago that they feel works fine for their needs.

        And frankly if you’re putting that much emphasis on email isn’t that a bit outdated in and of itself?

        1. AW

          “isn’t that a bit outdated in and of itself?”

          Nope. It’s old but there hasn’t been anything to completely replace it either, especially not for formal, private communication.

      2. Dynamic Beige

        Gah! I hate this kind of thing. I will say that I have a gmail and a hotmail. Yes, I do look a little askance at someone who’s got aol but… so what? If you signed up for something 20 years ago, you may have things that you joined or people you contacted/have in the address book with that and don’t want to get rid of it. So long as it’s not SweetBabyGurl4U69 or something else completely inappropriate, who cares?

        When they ran out of 416 area codes, they split it so that a new area code 647 overlapped it and then it became all this snobby “Oh, so you only have a 647? You *don’t* have a 416 like me? Well, don’t you suck then?” BS that drives me insane. It’s just a phone number. Anyone who’s going to dump on my 905 can kiss my 6.

    3. SevenSixOne

      Definitely! I also feel that way about people whose professional email address isn’t some straightforward variation on their name, or people who use a couple/family email address for private, personal correspondence.

      It’s totally fine if your main email address is PeanutButterAndKelly or RobinAndDanaKelly or whatever, but using that address for things like job applications tells me you don’t understand WHY that’s inappropriate.

    4. RG

      That’s interesting. I don’t know if I would some that they’re bad with technology though. I mean, I graduated from college not too long ago, and I hear a Yahoo email until my sophomore or junior year of college. Not because I’m bad with technology, but because my email account was already organized the way I like, was listed on every website I bother to give my email to, and is my contact info for professional and personal contacts. It just seemed like a hassle to recreate that in gmail (it was). So yeah, I’d probably chuckle at someone using AOL email, but I wouldn’t jump to “they’re bad at technology.”

    5. The Cosmic Avenger

      It’s like seeing your mechanic drive an old hoopty that lugs, sputters, squeals, and stalls.

    6. ThursdaysGeek

      My neighbor works for a consulting company, doing computer work in multiple states, editing photos and videos and documents, as well as other technical work. And she has an AOL address. So I figure it’s more like not wanting to change your name when you get married when you have a professional presence with the old name. She has a professional presence with this email address, and making it hard for others to find her might not be the best move?

  25. BananaPants

    Re: #4 – I find it interesting that some assume there’s some sort of romantic association going on – the letter writer simply asked, “Can my boss prohibit me from hanging out with his ex-wife?” For all we know, that OP is involved in a volunteer organization or community group with the ex, or has been friends with her for 20 years. Like, I’d be pretty ripped if my manager expected me to stop going to my knit night just because his ex goes to the same knit night and we’ve become friendly.

    If it really is a romantic involvement with the ex, I find the boss’ forbidding it to be disagreeable. If it’s just a friendship or social association, then the boss’ behavior is downright creepy and controlling and I would probably look to make an internal move or would be job hunting to get away from him.

  26. Me

    pERSONALLY, i WOULD JUST tell the boss next time they want me to put something on my card, that my policies have changed and I no longer loan money to anyone. Because that’s what it is. And sure, I have the money to cover $2k for a month or so, but not everyone does. And it’s presumptuous of them to expect it.

    Neither a borrower nor a lender be, for loan oft loses both itself and friend, and borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.

    If all else fails, “sorry boss, but last time I had those late charges and I can’t let that happen again so I cancelled my cards.”

    1. Not So NewReader

      I love the idea about saying the cards have been cancelled. Not so much about lying, if the cards had not indeed been cancelled.
      I put a medical test for work on my CC. It took 9 months to get paid back. And when I inquired about payback, I got hit with LAUGHTER. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. The next time the test rolled around, I told my boss that I was asking the testing place to bill the company directly. I just said my cards were no longer available for company use. I don’t know how long the testing company waited to get paid. I am sure it was a while.

      The test cost 1/3 of a week’s pay. And people thought it was funny. Nope, nope, nope.

      1. AW

        I just said my cards were no longer available for company use.

        Nice!

        I would have been tempted to just laugh in their face (or at least bring up the fact that they did that to you when you tried to get reimbursed).

  27. RG

    OK, I am honestly confused as to went people are disagreeing with Alison and saying that the company isn’t responsible for the interest. The company, for whatever reason, couldn’t pay the original $2000 expense. Because of this, OP had to pay and as a result, accrued $60 in interest. The company should pay because that $60 is technically a fee that would not have occurred if not for the company’s actions (or lack thereof). It doesn’t matter how long reimbursement took, or if the OP already had a balance – the $60 is a direct result of the company’s actions and as such should be covered by the company. It’s like a situation in which you have auto pay set up but the company withdraws money earlier than scheduled and causes you to overdraft your account. No one’s going to say “Oh man that sucks, maybe next time you should keep more money in your account.” No, everyone will agree that the company should pay the overdraft fee because it was charged solely because of the company’s actions – otherwise you wouldn’t have overdrafted your account. It’s the same principle here.

    1. AW

      No one’s going to say “Oh man that sucks, maybe next time you should keep more money in your account.”

      Actually, a lot of people said that all the time back when Consumerist was owned by Gawker and they let people comment on the articles. Blaming the consumer for not having an infinite amount of money when a company overcharges them was a depressingly common argument.

      There are a ton of jerks on the Internet and loads of people like to argue that if something bad happens that could have been prevented by you having more money, then it’s your fault.

      Frankly, I think it’s worse here when it’s your employer causing you to accrue interest/fees because 1) they’re asking you to cover business expenses on purpose whereas with a company withdrawing money early could be a mistake and 2) the person telling the employee that the business can’t cover their own expenses almost certainly makes more money than the employee.

      1. neverjaunty

        Oh crikey, the Consumerist comments. It’s like people thought you got a free toaster if you said “that wouldn’t have happened if you’d been smart and careful, like me” often enough.

        1. AW

          Yep. They had a few good stretches when they had really active moderators but it was often horrible trying to have a sane discussion.

    2. Not So NewReader

      I think this becomes a little more clear when thinking about a two friends in a similar situation. Let’s say my car breaks down. My friend and I are out somewhere and I have forgotten my credit card. My friend agrees to float me, so we can get the car repaired and be on our way. I don’t pay the friend back for months, because of whatever reason. I would pay that interest on the bill. It’s my fault the friend incurred the charge.
      When someone does you a favor, it is up to you to cover whatever expenses are incurred in the process of doing that favor.
      Employees are doing the company a favor. It expedites the company’s endeavors when employees use their personal resources for business.

      My husband ended up taking out a credit card with a smaller limit and putting all the company charges on that. This way the paper trail was clear cut. Not everyone can do this. But it was helpful for us.

      1. sunny-dee

        Except it’s not a favor. Frequently, it is a requirement of being in that kind of position. E.g., it is a requirement for sales or support guys who travel to be able to afford the travel upfront. My company is awesome about giving corporate cards and paying reimbursement — but an employee HAS to be able to fund at least some travel himself to ensure that he can keep doing his job if it is ever necessary, which it may never be. But still a requirement.

        1. Zahra

          Well, it’s a requirement, but you’re still doing a (mandatory) favor by floating money for the company.

  28. Mockingjay

    #2: Are you the only one experiencing reimbursement problems among your coworkers? Could you ask the company to issue a Corporate credit card? The company could negotiate for an extended grace period for the card, giving them time to process invoices.

    Or, you can ask your personal card carrier for an extended period. Most personal cards these days have shortened grace periods. Mine used to be 31 days, now it’s down to 26 on one, and 24 on the other. (“MegaCorp” bought both my original card issuers, and presented a fait accompli on terms.)

    Doesn’t really solve the issue that your company is causing, but it might give you some breathing room.

  29. Millennial

    #3. What if you’re in your first, real professional job and want to move on to another job? You don’t want to give your current job’s references, but they’re all the professional references you have…

    1. fposte

      Do you have any references from before then, like college work/internships or even professors? Do you have clients or customers or colleagues who can keep a secret at your current job who’d be willing to speak to your performance?

  30. Sean

    Want to know what my Hotmail adds at the end of every e-mail? “Click here for rock hard erections!” And people wonder why I don’t use Hotmail anymore…

  31. Missy

    I was doing some study last year, so my employers told me I had to drop from 40 hrs to 28. They did not lower my workload. In fact, I was given slightly more work to do.

    Then, to thank me, at the end of the year they made me redundant.

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