employee charged a honeymoon suite to my company credit card

A reader writes:

I’m an admin at a company and we have two employees, who I will call Jon and Ygritte. Ygritte was hired recently as a referral from Jon, to whom she is newly wed. Both are remote employees in different reporting structures and both have hard to find credentials.

As part of Ygritte coming on, they had to move to a different part of the country and had related credit issues that come with getting a mortgage. During that time, I was booking Ygritte’s hotels on my corporate card for her.

During this time, Ygritte and Jon happened to be in the same city at the same time, so they let me know they were rooming together (HR does not object to this when it comes up). I book the hotel, all is fine.

Then at the end of the month, I do my statements and get my receipt from the hotel and I learn that they booked a “honeymoon suite” during that time for 2 times the cost of a normal room, with breakfast and champagne and strawberries.

So here’s my dilemma. My credit card receipt just says “package”; the rest I learned from the hotel clerk who got it for me. On the one hand, I feel like charging a honeymoon suite to a business is skeevy, and I wouldn’t do it myself even if I worked with a spouse (which I wouldn’t). On the other hand, the total cost is still not excessive for a hotel room and breakfast, and with two people in the room the company still saved money (not much, but some).

What should I do? Right now I feel my options are a) drop it or b) go to them and ask them about it, giving them a chance to fess up and apologize or something. But I also don’t want to get in trouble with Accounting if they ever look into it. My manager doesn’t manage them or manage other admins and won’t have anything useful to say, so I can’t go there for advice.

For reference, drinking and charging the costs of the drinks on business trips is not against our company culture in general. There’s no specific part, taken alone, that I’d say is definitely against our company culture or against a policy. I’m just torn between “that feels inappropriate” and “I feel like a tattletale, it didn’t hurt anyone.”

I’d drop it.

The relevant question here is what it cost. If it cost the company more than they would have otherwise paid, then yes, this was inappropriate; you don’t fund a romantic interlude on your company’s dime.

But it didn’t cost the company any more than what they would have had to pay for two rooms and breakfast; in fact, you note that it actually cost a little less.

So what’s the crime here? That it sounds like they had more fun than was intended? That “honeymoon suite” has a ring of “not business travel”? But that stuff doesn’t really matter. I mean, if I were traveling for business and a hotel offered to upgrade me to more space and strawberries and champagne for less than what I’d normally be paying, I’d take it too — why not, if it’s not going to cost more money?

Business travel is allowed to be enjoyable; there’s no law that it has to be spartan, as long as you’re not asking your company to foot the bill for lavish purchases.

I do get why the question came up for you: It’s different than what you expected to see, they’re married, etc. But the question is the impact to the company, and there wasn’t one. So I’d let it go and move on.

Read an update to this letter here.

{ 268 comments… read them below }

  1. fposte*

    Our state would kill us for that, whether it was an overall savings of money or not, bu that’s the kind of reasonable flexibility people are in the private sector for.

    1. The IT Manager*

      I work for the the government and have my whole career where this would be a firing possible prosecution offense so maybe that’s why I totally disagree with Alison’s answer.

      They asked to room together so given that they are rooming together the cost should have been $X. Instead it was $2X (and that’s the impact to the company). They got the company to pay twice the cost of a normal hotel room in order to get champagne breakfasts and strawberries and fancy romantic decor. That shows incredibly poor judgement on both their parts (particularly the lady with the impossible to spell Y name) and especially to do it on SOMEONE ELSE’S company credit card.

      LW did absolutely nothing wrong to question the “package” charge to her credit card. The letter kind of made her sound embarrassed for checking but that was good stewardship of company funds.

        1. Persephone Mulberry*

          Oh, except that I’m not sure why you’re placing more of the blame on Ygritte than Jon. The letter only refers to their actions collectively – unless it’s because she’s the newer hire and should be extra conscious of making waves before she knows the culture and protocols?

          1. The IT Manager*

            I’m under the impression that LW is using her company card for Ygritte since she is new. LW mentions that she’s booking rooms for Ygritte on her card; she doesn’t say she’s booking rooms for Jon too. This came as a request from Ygritte not Jon since apparently either Jon or someone usually books Jon’s rooms on their company card.

            1. OP*

              Jon has been with the company longer, and has a corporate card– not like mine, but one where the company guarantees it so he can get higher credit but it’s in his name. Ygritte hasn’t been with us long enough to have the same.

      1. LBK*

        I see it more like “The company sent two employees on a business trip for which they normally expect to spend $X. Because of the personal situation of the two employees, the employees spent that $X on one really nice room instead of two decent rooms.” It was still more or less spent on their lodging, which is a normal business expense (albeit in this case that lodging included some extra perks, though those were also in line with the normal business spending culture at the company).

        1. Abby*

          Yeah, this is how I read it. They spent more or less the same amount of money as they would if they had been in two separate room. However, my personal sticking point is this: they could have roomed together in a single, regular room, and saved the company about 50% in lodging. I feel like it skirts the line of appropriateness– just because the money is there, doesn’t mean you should spend it.

          That said, it’s a personal feeling. If I were the manager, I would just drop it. It’s probably not worth the headache or the potential drama if the numbers are still within budget.

          1. JenGray*

            I agree & feel that same way. This falls more under the personal feelings category so probably best to just drop it if there is a high probability that nobody will question it. I would make sure that I document everything in case it ever does become an issue in the future. I know that the OP doesn’t have any control over the actions of the two other employees but because it was on the company credit card the first place they will go is to the OP if there is a question. The OP also has to be careful not to let this sour how she feels about the two employees & therefore her interactions. I would just chalk it up to differences and know that I would handle stuff different but you can’t control everything.

            1. OP*

              I really like both these employees and I have BTDT with credit issues, so I’m not too worried. They’re great people and really valuable employees, which is why I didn’t just report it and figure their managers could make the final decision.

          2. LBK*

            On the flipside, though, just because the savings are there doesn’t mean they’re obligated to take them either. What’s the delineating factor at that point? If they could’ve saved even more by staying at the sketchy motel down the street instead of the decent hotel, should they have taken that option instead?

            Not to encourage a slippery slope argument, but when it comes to the comfort of your employees, I think it’s nice to let them have the perks they can get as long as it’s not costing you too much – particularly for someone who’s going to be traveling a lot for work, which is generally an exhausting and miserable experience.

      2. Ad Astra*

        To be honest, I wouldn’t be upset, as a taxpayer, if government employees did something like this. Though I understand that the standard for government workers is higher than it is for private sector employees.

        The company had already budgeted $2X (or, it sounds like slightly more than $2X) for rooms. The fact that the two employees they were putting up happened to be married is just a coincidence, and not something the company could use to budget or plan in the future. So whether they could have saved the company money or not doesn’t really matter; they stayed under budget and caused no trouble.

        I don’t think the LW is wrong to raise an eyebrow, but I agree with Allison that this is not a problem.

        1. A Dispatcher*

          You as a particular taxpayer might not, but there are I’m sure plenty who would, especially when the story got framed as government employees spending your hard earned dollars on lavish perks as it inevitably would be. Maybe the fact that it actually saved money would end up in small print somewhere, maybe not, but damage would be done and the perception most would walk away with is not good

          People just get VERY very weird when it comes to what they see as “their money” being wasted. I’m sure almost every public sector employee has heard at least once (but usually a lot more) that “I pay your salary” in relation to some type of complaint as to how we do our jobs, spend time at our jobs, etc. I’ve gotten complaints for having the gall to eat during my 12 or 16 hour shift (same with officers, god forbid they wolf down food for 5 minutes between their wall to wall calls). It’s absolutely small potatoes when it comes to where taxed money is being spent, but I think they feel more in control over these sorts of things than billions of dollars spent on things at higher levels of government.

          1. Creag an Tuire*

            And, with no offense intended to our tax-supported members, this is -exactly- the sort of micro-managing bullshit that drives good workers out of the public sector.

            The American electorate is the ultimate in Horrible Bosses That Will Not Change.

          2. Ad Astra*

            Yes, I agree that this wouldn’t look good to some taxpayers and that’s something government employees have to think about in everything they do. If you ask me, the public is sometimes unreasonable about these things, and ordinary citizens often don’t understand why things cost what they cost. (There is a great scene from The West Wing where someone from the Navy explains to Donna why the ashtrays cost $100 — because they have to be shatter-proof, iirc.)

            The (often legitimate) fear of public perception keeps a lot of government agencies from offering the typical office comforts that help tons of companies recruit and retain good employees in the private sector. I bet that’s frustrating.

          3. Jill*

            Yes, you DO pay my salary. And you get your money’s worth out of me, because I work HARD.

            (Except for when I’m taking a break to read AAM)

            (The reading of which, of course, makes me a better employee, of course).

      3. Ask a Manager* Post author

        But you’re talking about government, where the rules are totally different on this kind of thing. It doesn’t make sense to apply that to the private sector, where it typically works very differently.

      4. Jessa*

        Honestly, in a way I disagree with Alison on this. The company’s job is to maximise profits. If they can get a room for two for $400 for instance, even if they would have paid $800 for two people, the fact that they are sharing does not mean they get $800 to spend on this trip. It is not on the employees to decide to spend more than the company HAS to spend. Not what they would be willing to spend if they had no other choice. Unless the upgrade was free, it was incumbent on them to ASK first before spending one dime extra of the company’s money. It’s theft.

      5. Elle*

        Completely agree! Champagne and strawberries…not as big of a deal, the same as charging dinner or room service. But (even in the private sector) I have seen people torn to shreds for far less! Especially because “honeymoon suite” does not ring of “complimentary upgrade” (which it wasn’t) or anything of the like. I realize the cost may have worked out in this case, but this is not the kind of thing that most places of employment allow gray area.

      1. trilby*

        I just find it so funny to call this a “no-no.” I have worked in government before as well so I am not totally unaware of how these things work. Would it be beneficial for the government to only hire married couples so they can reliably save on hotel rooms during business trips? It’s absurd to even have this conversation.

        In my opinion, the only way this is even remotely a problem is if the employer made a big deal out of sending a couple on a trip and how GREAT it was that this would save them substantial money on the trip. If the employer is so strapped for cash that spending $159 instead of $300 really makes a difference, fine.

        1. frequentflyer*

          Totally agree with this. They’re married but they aren’t obliged to share a room, if the usual policy is that each employee gets their own room.

          As a relatively young employee who gets to travel to many touristy countries like the Maldives, Hong Kong etc during my course of work, I get a lot of jealousy from other people in the company who don’t get such opportunities. But they don’t understand that business travel is not all fun and games, and these little perks just make a sucky business trip a little better. Personally, as long as the expenses don’t violate company policy (e.g. cap on daily maximum hotel expense), I think this is totally fine. I mean, they even saved a bit by rooming together.

          1. OP*

            Yes, in fact, when we had the rare company event where we wanted employees to share rooms, I explicitly asked them if they’d rather share a room or share a double queen with a same sex coworker. Obviously they took the former, but we didn’t assume.

            1. Jessa*

              Yes but once they agree to share, they no longer get to spend the “we’re travelling separately” money. They agreed to x room arrangement. They don’t get to change that without saying “company we had a $400 room, we upgraded to an $600 room, here is the missing $200.”

              1. Beezus*

                But that’s not what we have here. We have “we had two separate $400 rooms, and we upgraded to one $600 room, so you netted $200 in savings and we had a nice stay.” I get that it wouldn’t fly in the public sector, or in some places in the private sector, but I don’t see the benefit to being needlessly rigid here.

    2. Brett*

      For our agency, touching any part of a reservation like that is going to land you in a situation where you are not allowed to travel for a long time. If the reservation says two queens, you take two queens. If it says one king, you take one king. Even when I had a hotel that was out of one type and offered the other type at the same price, I had to call for permission and document everything. There is no way I would be allowed to take a suite upgrade, even at a lower price. I once got chewed out because I slept on someone’s floor to attend a conference because a room was not available.
      I go to one conference every year where I stay at my father’s house… I have to get special permission from the chief elected official’s office to do that because it is not at the conference site at the conference rate.

      1. Steve*

        It sounds like you should just let them get you a hotel room and stay at your father’s house anyway.

        1. Brett*

          The hotel for the conference I go to is actually outside our budget guidelines; so my choices are “get special permission and stay with my dad” or “don’t go at all”. I pretty much cannot go to any conferences in Washington DC or New York because of this (which, unfortunately, have a lot of major conferences in my profession).

      2. OP*

        My company calls that Hotel Dad. You are allowed to expense dinner for the concierge. :-)

      3. frequentflyer*

        You sound like you’re in a terribly dysfunctional company and you need some advice yourself on how to deal with it. Haha.

  2. Cary*

    I read this email as the honey moon suite costing twice the amount of a ordinary double room. If I’m right then it’s not cool to charge that to the company. However, if they had a fancy room for the same cost or less as a double room then I’m OK with that.

    1. Helka*

      I think the point is that it cost more than an ordinary double room, but less than two separate single rooms — so overall the company still saved money in Ygritte and Jon being a married couple and sharing a single room, but not as much as it would have saved had they been a married couple staying in a more modest room.

    2. LVL*

      I think what OP is saying that it would have cost the company 2 x double rooms if they weren’t rooming together, and honeymoon suite < 2x double rooms. So, more than one double room but less than two double rooms.

      OP, I'd be just as conflicted as you. As an admin I run into these situations often and will keep this sage advice in hand. Remember, at the end of the day, if someone digs in to it, it would reflect poorly on them, not you. You are not there to discern their credit card charges, just manage your statement. They booked it, not you.

      1. UKAnon*

        That’s how I read it too – it’s still cost the company more than it needed to have done, but not as much as it could have done.

        I’m actually a little surprised by the advice to drop this. If the OP has to sign off on or approve this then I think it’s very much their problem if issues are raised about this. I’d be more inclined to do a CYA email to accounting to be sure; something like “I see Jon and Ygritte have spent a little more than I expected, although the good news is they’ve still saved us money! Is it ok for me to go ahead and process this?”

        1. Robles*

          Yeah, I might go for that approach too. After all, it was on OP’s card, and she was expecting $X to be charged, and instead $2X was charged. She’s liable for that balance, and she actually booked the room; it sounds like Jon and Ygritte upgraded the already-charged room. I’d be kinda pissed if someone did that… even if at the end all was fine, I’d want a paper trail indicating that I knew about it and had asked them about it.

          In the end, it’s an additional expense that they company didn’t need to take on, and it was taken on unilaterally by employees for purely personal reasons, who didn’t even run it past the person on whose card they charged it. I can think of a lot of cultures where that wouldn’t fly.

        2. TootsNYC*

          This is what I’d do. And I’d leave out the semantics of the suite being labeled “honeymoon.”

          If the label for the suite were “deluxe” or “first class,” or “upgrade,” would the reaction be the same? It might, but maybe not quite as intense.

          But I think I’d flag it for official approval for someone over my head.

          1. OP*

            Yes, this is what I did– I brought it up but let the higher ups give their opinions before I revealed it was a honeymoon package for a married couple.

        3. Buffay the Vampire Layer*

          Agreed, no need to make a big deal about this if the company culture doesn’t warrant it, but I would CYA all over the place.

        4. frequentflyer*

          OP is an admin – in my company, approval is usually given by the respective heads of business units and the admin only reviews and checks the receipts before submitting it for further approval. If Ygritte and Jon have approval from their department heads, it should be sufficient. Accounting shouldn’t be involved – their individual heads of department or whoever they report to should be, because that’s where the cost will be allocated to.

          1. OP*

            I have a lot more autonomy with my card, and I am acting as approver in lieu of their manager. However, Accounting double checks and goes to the manager if they see something too.

      2. Jen in Austin*

        Y’all like chocolate – look at it this way:

        They were given $10 for two regular chocolate pieces. Instead, they bought one sooper-dooper fancy dark chocolate piece with strawberries and *sprinkles* for $7. More than the $5 they were expected to spend per chocolate? Yeah. Less than the $10 budgeted? *YES*.

        What’s the problem?

        I guess they should have just booked a double in a Motel 6?

        1. Seattle Writer Girl*

          Actually, as per the letter, they were given $10, responded that they were going to share 1 chocolate and gave back $5. Then they took that $5, spent it on 1 chocolate, then decided to pull out their corporate credit card and buy champagne and strawberries to go with their chocolate for another $2.

          The sticking point for me is that the couple agreed to 1 room in advance for $x. This now made the total company expense $x (not $2x as it would be had they NOT agreed to share).

          I travel for work and my company booked me a single queen and I decided when I got there to upgrade to a king suite with jacuzzi–simply for my own enjoyment–I would be expected to pay the upgrade fee.

          That is what is happening here. They did NOT save the company any money. Once they agreed to share the room, the budget went from $2x to $x. Period. End of story. Any “savings” are phantom savings against a budget that isn’t real. This couple should be required to pay the overage for their personal upgrades.

    3. INTP*

      I think it was around double the cost of a regular room, so wound up being just slightly less than the two of them each getting their own rooms.

      I do agree that it looks a little sketchy to not have mentioned it, but I also think OP should drop it unless she has been asked to look for suspicious charges like that. Otherwise Jon and Ygritte are likely to just book the two double rooms next time since they have no incentive not to.

      1. Kelly L.*

        Or just sleep in the one and put the wolf in the other. Direwolf farts are no laughing matter.

        1. Chinook*

          “Or just sleep in the one and put the wolf in the other. Direwolf farts are no laughing matter.”

          Nope – always leave the wolf to sleep in your room otherwise she wakes you up way too early as she bays the song of her people, looking for you. A howling alarm clock is not worth a room free of the noxious fumes that emanate from a protein filled canine.

  3. Ann O'Nemity*

    So, the OP booked a standard room for the employees but was later charged for an upgraded honeymoon package?

    I don’t think it’s out of line for the OP to email the employees and say something like, “My monthly statement showed that you upgraded your hotel room on XX dates. I approved the charge this time, but in the future I ask that you pay for any upgrades or incidentals that you incur during your business trip.”

    1. Sleepyhead*

      That seems like a good solution, and that’s how I read it too (OP booked the room, the employees upgraded on their own). If the room somehow got booked as the honeymoon suite originally, I’d let it go but I don’t know how that could happen.

    2. jmkenrick*

      From the letter, I don’t get the sense that OP is in charge of “approving” expenses though. That’s usually the purview of the managers.

      1. Natalie*

        I think you’re right – OP doesn’t approve charges, they are aware of this because it was booked on OP’s corporate card.

      2. Ann O'Nemity*

        If the “approve” wording is too strong, you can always say “signed off on” or whatever works based on the company’s policy. I’m assuming the OP has some discretion here, based on the original question.

      3. Bend & Snap*

        I don’t think it matters. If the OP’s card was charged, OP is on the hook to justify it. No way would I let someone else be so free with my corporate card.

    3. Ellie H.*

      I agree with this too, and I think this is the perfect wording/way to handle it. I think everyone recognizes there’s a reasonable difference between “comfortable, not spartan” and “honeymoon suite.” To me it is analogous to not limiting yourself to eating at Subway to save the company money, but also it would be inappropriate to eat at the most expensive steakhouse in the city (or something else unreasonably extravagant) and then expensing it. I DO see the logical fallacy of it though with the technically lesser price which is why it’s an interesting question/situation.

      It’s also possible they intended to pay for the difference in price of the upgrade themselves (like “we’re already in a nice hotel, let’s take the rare opportunity in a situation where we only have to pay for the upgrade, not the whole thing!”) and forgot.

    4. Ad Astra*

      Personally, I’d prefer not to just drop it. But if that’s not an option for the OP, this wording would be the perfect way to handle the situation reasonably.

    5. SystemsLady*

      Yup, I think this is a good policy to have in the first place.

      There are very, very few cases where an upgrade would be a justifiable business expense.

      (Now they do exist. For one, purchasing “3 extra inches of legroom OMG!1!!” or exit seats on your plane ticket, because they’re the only guaranteed seats left and you would be placed on standby otherwise. That has actually happened to me twice – at booking – and I don’t even fly that much for work.)

    6. Loz*

      It’s not an upgrade issue, it’s a peculiarity of the resourcing the attendance of whatever the event was. If it were two unrelated employees the cost would have been higher for two rooms. The two staff happened to be married and cut costs but the company could not have relied on that so the budget had to cater for 2 rooms worst case. No drama required. Its a cost of business that turned into a cheap perk for two valuable employees. I’d call that a win/win.

  4. FD*

    I actually disagree with this.

    OK, so here’s the way I understand it.

    Ygritte and Jon are married, so they room together when they go on business trips together. If they paid for separate rooms, the charge would have been $300 for two rooms. If the hotel had just paid for a single regular room, the charge would have been $150, with $50 for breakfast (when you include tax and tip).

    Instead, they got one room at a rate of $275. This came with breakfast, but also some other perks.

    Now, this is still cheaper than renting two rooms–but it’s also more expensive than renting one standard double room with meals, which is what the company had reason to expect would happen when they approved them going and staying in the same hotel. To me, that’s something they at least should have gotten clearance for.

    For the record, the people at the hotel also messed up. I assume (I hope) that they got a credit card authorization form. If they were doing this right, it should have specified the room rate or type, and an upgrade that cost more than that should have required checking with the cardholder. This is necessary because when you’re taking a credit card where the cardholder won’t be there, if you have charges over what was pre-approved on the authorization form, the charges can be disputed, and the hotel will almost certainly lose.

    1. Ann O'Nemity*

      Yeah, the presumption of the married employees bugs me. My company is pretty generous when it comes to covering travel, but I would never assume it’s okay to charge them 100s extra for a room upgrade without asking first.

      Or, who knows? Maybe the couple tried to charge the upgrade to their own credit card but the hotel mistakingly billed the one on file.

        1. cuppa*

          Good point. I’ve had something similar happen to me before (fortunately I’ve only gotten my personal card mixed up and just needed to be reimbursed, and not the other way around).

    2. Colette*

      I agree it’s a larger expense to the company than sharing one room, and it would have been a good idea for one of them to at least mention they were planning to get an upgraded room (which they might have done) – but the company shouldn’t be budgeting based on their employees being married (unless they typically ask their employees to share rooms). If Ygritte and Jon had opposing schedules (i.e. one starts really early, one goes really late), they might want separate rooms, and if their travel had been off by a day, the company would be paying for two rooms instead of one.

        1. FD*

          I actually agree in principle.

          It’s more that the company agreed that these two people were going to share a room, which the employees suggested, in this specific case, and the company could reasonably expect that since they had OK’d them sharing a room, that they were going to pay for a standard room.

      1. Jessa*

        Except that budgeting $500 does not mean you have to spend it. If I budget that much and only end up getting a room for $250 it does not mean I have a free $250 to spend on what I want. It means I (in this case the company) saved $250 that could now be used on other travel.

        The fact that it was budgeted goes out the window once the arrangements are made for less than the budget.

    3. LBK*

      I think it depends what the company’s expectations around travel expenses are – if the culture is more like “Do whatever you want up to reasonable amount $X” then I don’t think it matters if more money could’ve been saved.

        1. LBK*

          It doesn’t sound like the amount was what made her question it, though, just what that money had been spent on.

          1. Persephone Mulberry*

            The bill said “package” and the OP said “hmm, that’s not what I booked” and called the hotel.

            Although now you’ve got me curious if the OP would still have written in if the hotel had told them it was a “business suite” upgrade rather than a “honeymoon suite.”

            1. LBK*

              That’s not what I read it as – I read it as she called up to get a copy of the receipt so she could file an expense report and in the course of that conversation it came out that they’d booked the honeymoon suite.

            2. fposte*

              I know the OP used the term, but I’m wondering if there really was a “honeymoon suite” as in a specific room; I poked around a little and it seems like the “honeymoon package” is a pretty standard deal at a lot of hotels that doesn’t necessarily get you any specifically glorious room; it just includes the champagne and strawberries plus breakfast and a late checkout at the Marriott, for instance, with no statement of room size at all.

              1. FD*


                For the room rate to be double, it was almost certainly an upgraded room. A lot of places have a larger room, often with a whirlpool. Some Marriotts do in fact have those, but it’s not a brand standard.

                I’d expect a package which only consisted of champagne, strawberries, meals, and checkout to be around a $50-75 upgrade fee at a Marriott, for example. To double the rate, it has to be a room upgrade too.

          2. The Strand*

            Yeah, if it’s a question of per diem – and their item is still well under the per diem for two employees, she should just drop it.

    4. OP*

      The hotel CC Auth form said “room and tax only,” but apparently that includes packages. I complained about the form already.

      1. FD*

        Yeah, packages are considered part of the room rate.

        A lot of savvy companies have their own forms. If you’re using one that doesn’t specify, you should write in and initial or sign the rate you understand was reserved.

    5. Adam V*

      > it’s also more expensive than renting one standard double room with meals, which is what the company had reason to expect would happen when they approved them going and staying in the same hotel

      See, this is where I disagree. I think if you’re going to use the fact that they’re married to be cheap, I think you should explicitly tell them that. “We’re going to treat this trip differently than a normal two-employee trip because the two of you are married. We expect you to share a single standard room instead of two rooms.”

      Maybe Jon says “I’d like my own room because Ygritte snores when she sleeps on hotel pillows, and I’d like to make sure I get enough sleep for the meeting the following morning.” Maybe Ygritte says “I’d like to get my own room because whenever Jon travels, his stuff takes over the bathroom.” Maybe they both say “We don’t want to travel together any more if we won’t ever get our own rooms.”

      1. A Dispatcher*

        They didn’t expect them to share a room because they were married though, at least that’s not how I read OP’s letter…

        “During this time, Ygritte and Jon happened to be in the same city at the same time, so they let me know they were rooming together…”

        Sounds like the request was made on the couples end. I’m guessing had they wanted separate rooms, the company would’ve been fine with that.

        1. LBK*

          I think that’s Adam’s point, though – that if the company would’ve been fine paying for them to room separately, what difference does it make if they pay the same amount for them to room together in a nicer room?

          1. A Dispatcher*

            Like some have said, it just feels “off” to me, at least to have done it with no prior approval. Had they said, hey, so since we’re saving money by sharing a room, would you mind if we did X, it will still come in under budget, I doubt I’d have an issue with it.

            The thing is, maybe the company WOULD have a problem with them having the nicer room and would therefore say, no, in that case please book two separate rooms. You never know, they might know that as soon as Jon and Ygritte get back, Lucinda would be whining that *she* never gets champagne and strawberries when she travels for the company and IT’S NOT FAIR that they do merely because they’re married. Or, like I mentioned above, public perception of the expense, depending on the industry OP is in, may be something the company would worry about. It’s not the room I have the problem with, it’s the lack of prior approval.

            1. LBK*

              That’s fair; I think it depends a little how it transpired that they went from the room the OP had booked to the nicer room. I’m kind of stuck between “if they knew it wouldn’t be a big deal, why do they need to ask?” vs. “what’s the harm in asking if they know it’s not going to be a big deal?” Personally, I probably would’ve asked if I were in the situation, but overall if it’s acceptable, it’s acceptable, even if it makes you a little miffed to find out after the fact.

          2. Engineer Girl*

            Because the company gets to decide what is done with company money.
            The difference here it is the company’s money to give, not the couples money to take. By not checking ahead of time they are taking the savings for themselves (upgrade) Vs allowing the company to give them the upgrade or even keeping the savings for other things, like profit to shareholders.
            That’s where Alison’s argument breaks down. This isn’t the couple’s money to do with as they chose.

            1. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

              ^ This.

              Thank you for articulating what I have been feeling reading this thread.

            2. LBK*

              I have to give a bit of an eyeroll to the idea that $150 makes any meaningful difference to shareholder profits.

            3. Dutch Thunder*

              I disagree. The couple’s sleeping arrangement isn’t the company’s business, it’s not a saving the company has a right to. As far as the company was concerned, two people were going out on business and the money for two rooms was gone.

              They could have booked two rooms and the company would be worse off. From your argument, that wouldn’t have been an issue. But there would be no savings if the couple hadn’t offered to stay together in the first place. Besides, sleeping in a double together is a hell of a lot less comfortable – you’re effectively halving the space available to each of them. By upgrading, they stayed under budget and got back the space/comfort levels of having your own room again.

              If it wasn’t for the couple’s ingenuity, the money would be out of the company’s wallet anyway. There’s less money gone now.

      2. jmkenrick*

        I agree completely. Sounds like the couple was under budget for the trip, even with the “upgrade”. If the business still doesn’t want them to upgrade, that’s the company’s prerogative, but the onus is on the company to establish that expectation.

        I get that there are industries where the culture is to be frugal on business trips, but that’s actually not all industries. OP mentions that the couple has specific hard-to-find skills. A lot of businesses expense some “luxury” travel as a perk in order to keep these kinds of employees. We don’t know from this letter whether or not this couple falls into that category, and it doesn’t sound like this kind of judgement call is under OP’s purview.

        1. Ad Astra*

          Yes, I think expectation is a huge factor. It would be reasonable to expect employees to run it past a manager before upgrading a room, but you have to make that expectation clear. It would also be reasonable to say “Hey, since you decided to room together, we’re changing the budget to $X so make sure the room you book stays under that amount,” but again, you have to make that expectation clear.

          I can absolutely see how some businesses would have a problem with the upgrade, but not everyone would. So it’s the company’s job to communicate that.

        2. Kassy*

          I haven’t worked in the private sector and don’t know how common this is, but in my state agency, they’d laugh in our faces if we tried to expense alcoholic beverages. To me, at least, their culture seems pretty lax about this sort of thing.

          1. jmkenrick*

            See, in my industry, that’s not uncommon. You would look out-of-touch if you ‘called out’ another employee about that kind of expenditure.

          2. NJ anon*

            Our funding prohibits expensing alcohol, period. Over night stays any where for any reason have to be specifically spelled out and within funding limits. Heck, “employee morale building” is not allowed.

          3. OP*

            We actually have to be careful with our interns and high school grads because there is always free beer in our company fridge, and it would be unbelievably easy for them to drink underage.

            1. Jessa*

              Um you probably need to change that asap, because you can get in so much trouble with this. If it’s unbelievably easy, it’s a liability. And now that you’ve brought it up, nobody can say that they didn’t know this.

              1. OP*

                We treat people as adults. On the rare occasion that we have a high school intern, we supervise them at all times; other interns know they have way too much to lose. We also tell everyone when someone is underage so we all police it.

                1. Connie-Lynne*

                  This. We have a fully-stocked bar in the office and regular happy hours. It’s made clear during intern orientation that, even if they drink at home, if they are under-21 they can’t drink in the office because of potential legal consequences for the company.

                  Everyone knows who the interns are and I’ve never seen one drinking alcohol.

        3. Connie-Lynne*

          I agree — I think it’s about the company’s expectations.

          FWIW, when my best friend and I, who both worked for the same tech company but for different departments, asked whether we could combine our rates and stay together in a suite, for a 3-day all-company event, my boss said sure but her boss said “no,” specifically citing the appearance of special treatment. So we didn’t. We realized later that there were a number of married couples in the company who hadn’t thought to ask, and that it would indeed have been special treatment for us.

          At the same time, when we had to go to a three-week training together, neither boss had a problem with us *slightly* upgrading to a larger room with two beds instead of one, since it was significantly cheaper than paying for two rooms and there was a much smaller number of attendees.

          I think the difference here was we recognized that it might be a little outside the norm and asked both times.

          If the company the LW works for is used to occasional small upgrades or perks for valued employees, it might be that the employees were unaware that this crossed over a line or would raise eyebrows. Honestly, in the suite situation, both BFF and I were kind of annoyed about the special treatment thing (it would have saved money for the company) because it seemed illogical and was in line with how things usually went at the office, until we realized that there were added complexities in the situation we hadn’t considered.

          I guess, I don’t think what the couple did was outrageous, but it also wouldn’t be out of line for the LW to reach out to the couple and note that the package did raise eyebrows and to please clear similar bookings ahead of time _before putting it on the LW’s department credit card_.

    6. Suzy Snowflake*

      I think you nailed it. The hotel should’ve gotten permission from the cardholder first. I have a friend who says “just because you can, doesn’t mean you should”. She’s usually talking about fashion bloopers but I think it applies in this case as well. I think it was not ethical of the employees to upgrade the room without explicit permission from their manager or whoever has the authority to do so.

  5. MT*

    I dont see anything wrong with it. At the end of the day, it didn’t cost the company anything, since the company would have paid for 2 rooms. All this did was build good will toward its employees. Its really no different if you gave each person $25 for dinner and they pooled the money to buy one super nice steak.

    1. Green*

      I also think it’s a little weird to put this on somebody else’s corporate card that the person is responsible for though. If I’m taking advantage of little perks” (i.e., order a nice bottle of wine while out traveling) I’d rather be responsible for it if the company were to decide it wasn’t an appropriate expenditure than put someone else in an awkward position.

      1. Natalie*

        Yeah, that’s what would concern me if I was the OP. I do my boss’s expense reports, and I wouldn’t tell on him if I noticed a charge that seemed excessive because the company card is in his name. If accounting gets made about the charge, they’ll go to him. But if it was on my card, that would feel more like a personal risk.

        1. MT*

          Where i work, if the manager approves the expense, then accounting doesn’t question it.

          1. OP*

            We are a highly regulated industry, so Accounting investigates a lot more to avoid criminal investigation even if the manager approves.

            1. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

              I too am in a highly regulated industry and have had our accounting team kick back my receipt because it wasn’t detailed enough. Our T&E policy is really explicit on what details the receipt must show and we have to have the original receipt (so no Amex transaction receipts like my last job).

              1. frequentflyer*

                OP says the original receipt doesn’t say anything about the room being a honeymoon suite, the amount didn’t seem excessive, and OP only knew about the suite through the hotel clerk. It looks like accounting would have no cause to question this expense.

                1. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

                  But it said “package,” which is why she followed up and it was different than the amount of the original reservation.

                  Our accounting team would have flagged either of those things.

          2. Natalie*

            That may not be wise – these are tax deductible, so you want someone occasionally checking to make sure they’re actually proper business expenses.

  6. Dan*

    The way this sentence is written: “On the one hand, I feel like charging a honeymoon suite to a business is skeevy, and I wouldn’t do it myself even if I worked with a spouse (which I wouldn’t).” makes me feel like the OP is looking for a reason to “narc” on those two.

    The OP wants us all to know that she would never work with a spouse!

    And then she goes on to list several reasons why what they did was no big deal. It’s as if she was asking for permission to stir up trouble. Is she jealous that two spouses work together, even though she makes it clear she never would herself?

    1. Green*

      That’s a little much to assume… It’s on her credit card, and she doesn’t want to get in trouble for a weird charge that she is submitting for reimbursement. She wants a gut check: that’s the only reason she’s involved, not random spousal work privilege jealousy.

      1. Stranger than fiction*

        I agree. But i also think the Op is painting a picture of these two as being somewhat careless with the mention of their credit issues, i get the sense she thinks these two have a cavalier attitude towards spending after the company showed generosity towards them helping with their move etc

        1. Laurel Gray*

          I took “had related credit issues that come with getting a mortgage” to mean that they are in the process of buying a house during the relocation. I know hard inquiries of credit (maybe to get a credit card to use for work expenses?) are not a good idea while getting a mortgage. I also assumed the company wouldn’t give either employee their own card and if they couldn’t use a personal one, their expenses were booked on the OP’s. Again, just assuming here.

          1. Ann O'Nemity*

            That’s how I read it too – that credit inquiries or covering large business travel expenditures before reimbursement would potentially hurt the mortgage application process.

            1. Green*

              I don’t think she’s suggesting they’re careless by mentioning their “credit issues” but explaining why it’s on her card (and why she feels somewhat responsible for the expenses she submits for reimbursement) rather than on their cards. Most of us assumed a pretty benign reason for their “credit issues” (i.e., related to a mortgage).

              (2) Totally unrelated point: but a lot of people over-fear negative impacts of credit card pulls on their credit rating. I got a credit card right before getting a mortgage and all I had to do was describe the reasons for the inquiries.

        2. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

          I didn’t read it that they were careless with their credit, just that they are applying for a mortgage and wanted to keep their credit card balances very low for the time being. It’s a reasonable thing to do – if you have limited credit, and your charging up 50% or more each month on company expenses, it really could hurt your chances of getting approved for a mortgage.

    2. OP*

      Actually that was my attempt to head off the potential “married people shouldn’t work together” tirade from Alison :)

    3. KS*

      My workplace has plenty of couples, including those that met at work. That’s all well and good. I still think this is skeevy. Not because they are married, but because it’s not their bloody card. The company already seems to be going above and beyond by letting them use a corporate card when their personal finances are having trouble. No one seems to be commenting on that.

      1. Persephone Mulberry*

        Their personal finances aren’t necessarily in trouble, but getting approved for a mortgage can be a delicate game – as Ashley pointed out above, having a high balance on a card at the wrong moment in the billing cycle can impact your credit score, impacting the interest rate you qualify for, potentially costing you thousands and thousands of dollars over the life of your mortgage.

        I totally agree that the company is already going above and beyond by carrying charges that would presumably be a reimbursed expense under normal circumstances. And yes, that’s what makes the employees’ actions skeevy.

  7. INTP*

    Agree with dropping it. If I were part of the married couple in this scenario, and were told that I could not have a nicer room if I were sharing it with another employee, I would just book separate rooms for us. If there is no benefit to us in sharing a room anymore, why not book two in case we want to shower at the same time or watch something different on TV or he snores that night?

    (Assuming of course that there are no strict rules about things like this for the company. I know people who have gotten in trouble for, say, purchasing two coach class plane tickets to a conference in Europe, so their spouse could come, when they were authorized for one first class ticket – it ultimately cost the company less but there were rules about company funds being used for non-business expenses.)

    1. Colette*

      I could justify the upgraded hotel room before the two coach tickets. Companies pay for first class tickets so that their employee has a more comfortable trip and is able to work when they get there – booking two coach tickets negates that value.

      1. fposte*

        Yeah, that would be huge to me (and possibly firing level at my org for using org funds to fly a non-employee); you’re not being issued an airline gift card to use as you see fit, you’re being flown a certain way for a certain reason.

      2. Connie-Lynne*

        Yep. The point behind paying the extra expense for a First Class ticket is so that the employee needs less recovery / adjustment time.

    2. lowercase holly*

      that seems a little different since one of those people isn’t an employee.

      1. INTP*

        Definitely true. I just meant that sometimes there might be rules about travel expenses beyond just what seems logical from the numbers perspective, and those outweigh what would seem fair from an outside perspective in terms of what is okay at any given employer.

  8. Persephone Mulberry*

    “If they weren’t married, the company would be paying for two rooms” isn’t relevant to this situation. The situation is that Jon and Ygritte asked the OP to book them a shared room since they’d be in town together, and then they upgraded the room without prior approval, costing the company twice what it had expected to incur for that trip as originally booked. Not cool.

    1. LBK*

      Who cares, though? If the budget was $300, the budget was $300. It would have been nice for the employees to save the company some money, I guess, but I don’t think they’re obligated to by any means.

      1. jmkenrick*

        I agree LBK, in the sense that I think the onus on the company to set the expectation for what they think is a reasonable expenditure. If they consider saving money on rooms a “perk” of hiring a married couple, it’s up to them to establish that.

        And it doesn’t sound like OP is the person in charge of setting those norms/expectations.

        1. LBK*

          Yeah, and I’d actually find that kind of icky to play on their relationship to save the company money. If you’d expect to spend $X to send Y number of employees on a trip, that should be your budget, whether your employees are married or not.

            1. LBK*

              Exactly – because this was voluntary, I don’t think the company should get to expect to save money on it that they otherwise would’ve been fine paying.

  9. Lizard*

    They may have had reasons to want a “suite” that are entirely appropriate for business–if they were both working and the suite comes with more desk/table space than a standard double room, for instance. Usually hotel rooms just have one chair/desk, which makes it hard for 2 people to work, and if your company would have sprung for rooms for each of them I can totally see wanting to stay together but not give up workspace. I mean, the champagne and strawberries are a bit much, but it sounds like they came with the package.

    I agree that it seems a bit weird and off-putting to be booking something called the honeymoon suite on a business trip but I’m not seeing that your business was actually harmed by this choice and may have even benefited a bit, cost-wise. I’d just drop it.

      1. Cat*

        Sure but there’s a good chance they didn’t know it was an option till they were asked at check in if hey wanted to upgrade or something like that.

        1. The Strand*

          And who’s to say that the suite wasn’t upgraded for them at little to no extra price, once the hotel employees learned they were newlyweds?

          That happened for me shortly after I got married.

          1. Dynamic Beige*

            This is what I was wondering. It might not have been their idea to book the honeymoon suite/package, but when they got there the hotel did an upsell kind of thing. When I check in to a hotel, sometimes the clerk will ask me where I’m coming from, why I’m at the hotel as they look up my reservation. Ygritte or Jon might have said upon registering that this was the first time they had slept in the same city since they were married or something along those lines… and a conversation happened that ended with some splurging. I can just see a clerk saying “Congratulations! Did you know that we’re having a special right now where…” In a way, I don’t blame them for wanting a little luxury if they were required to spend so much time apart. And, if it happened on the spur of the moment, getting approval wouldn’t have been easy, or maybe even possible depending on when they checked in.

            But, I don’t agree that they should expect the company to pick up the difference. It would be a nice gesture if the company did — just this one time with some discussion about what is considered a business expense or whatever going forward. But someone needs to say something so that this isn’t the thin edge of the wedge. I never had a corporate card, and when I had an office, I decorated it myself. When people at OldJob were given cards, they were charging things that weren’t necessary like office decor and rub n’ tugs (that guy was fired). Sometimes, the money you save for a company helps you out in the long run.

        2. Sunflower*

          Often times, esp when hotels are sold out/overbooked on regular rooms, they will offer suite upgrades at a low price to try to make some money instead of being forced to give complimentary upgrades

    1. Turtle Candle*

      Yeah, I occasionally used to travel with a coworker and share a room (voluntarily), and we’d usually get an upgrade to a larger room or small suite specifically to ensure that we’d each have a desk/table to work from. I mean, this wasn’t something I did on my own–it was arranged by the person who booked the room–which I realize makes a difference, but I very much appreciated not having to play outlet roulette or work while lying on the bed (and screw up my back).

    2. Cambridge Comma*

      It would seem so much more OK if they had booked two rooms with a connecting door for this reason. Booking the honeymoon suite seems to say that they are people who will take any perk they can get on the company’s dime, and that they will aleays be thinking what’s in it for me when they are being paid to think about what’s best for the company.

      1. OfficePrincess*

        But if we’re going to look at two rooms vs the suite, taking the suite was what was best (cheaper) for the company.

        1. Cambridge Comma*

          But they would have the same things as any other employee would have been given, once each. This way they had special things (and do homeymoon suites typically have workspaces for two people anyway?)

  10. FiveByFive*

    I have a friend whose company forces her to share a hotel room with her husband (a coworker) when they travel, despite the company policy that employees get separate rooms. I don’t think it’s right, but the company sees it as an opportunity to save money.

    I guess the couple working for the OP had an opportunity to save the company money and declined. But isn’t that the same thing as not spending all of your meal money given to you in a per diem?

    I guess you could look at it either way, but personally I would let it go.

    1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

      It seems really odd to me that she feels “forced” to share a hotel room with her husband. It’s not like it’s an invasion of their personal boundaries (which, IMO, hotel room sharing normally is).

      1. Cat*

        But who knows what their sleeping arrangements are at home! This reminds me of Emily Post’s original 1922 book on etiquette: in the section on hosting a country house party (as one does) she says that married people should never be put in a single room unless you’re sure they share a room at home.

        1. Anonsie*

          Yep, a lot of couples sleep in separate beds or separate rooms for a ton of reasons. I know a lot of people who sleep separately because one has a really insane snore or thrashes around.

        2. bridget*

          I wonder if this is because in 1922, it was more common for couples to have separate rooms, especially older/richer ones (who I imagine are the types of people attending country house parties)? I think it’s much less common now. Among my cohort, I think it would be odd/vaguely insulting to presume that a married or cohabitating couple would prefer separate rooms.

          1. Cat*

            I’m sure it is. I mostly remembered it because that is so not the expectation today. But I do know married couples where one snores or they just like personal space who don’t share a bedroom.

            1. Dynamic Beige*

              I was on a job working for a married couple and one night had to review in their room. I quickly learned way more than I wanted to about their arrangements as they had two rooms with a connecting door (4 beds between them). It was kind of a reverse Jack Spratt situation, so I don’t doubt that he snored like a chainsaw orchestra. One of my friends, her husband has a bad back that gives him issues sometimes, so he’ll go and sleep in the spare room so he’s not thrashing around keeping her awake.

              A few years ago I read some article about how married couples not sharing a room was becoming A Thing for the moneyed classes again. That some housing developers were building two master suite houses and they were quite popular. Haven’t heard a peep about it since then.

              1. simonthegrey*

                My father-in-law is an insomniac and sleeps maybe 4 hours a night, very restlessly. My husband has said that he’s always had a sleeper couch in the basement so that if it’s one of the nights where he knows he won’t sleep more than a couple hours, he just sleeps there so as not to disturb my mother-in-law. My dad sleeps much better sitting up (neck problems and restless legs) so he often sleeps in my parents’ living room on the recliner. People have reasons.

              2. Judy*

                I know about 10 years ago, we saw a number of new houses with two master suites, but they were situated so one was near the other bedrooms and one was away (usually ground floor). It was explained to me that when kids are young, you want to be near them, but as they get older, you want to be away from them. The ground floor suite also meant you could age in place or have aging parents live there if you needed to. These were in large 2500 to 3500+ square feet houses, but not mansions.

          2. The IT Manager*

            This is a whole thing in Downton Abbey and particularly fanfic. The TV show gave a us a scene where their daughter chastises Lord and Lady Gratham for sleeping together in the same bed because “smart people” don’t share a bed, and the fanfic is wild with it.

            For politeness, giving a couple two rooms allows them to choose what they want to do without having to let anyone know what they choose. And people giving house parties obviously have huge houses with a lots of bedrooms to pick from.

            1. LawBee*

              Every time I see fic referenced “in the wild” I have this brief moment of “DON’T TALK ABOUT US OUT IN THE WORLD OMG”, haha. Then I remind myself that fandom and the entertainment industry’s acceptance of fandom has changed mightily since I first dove in back in the early days of the internet.

              yay, fic!

          3. some1*

            I would have guessed that in 1922 separated bedrooms was the only birth control available to a large number of people.

            1. Kelly L.*

              And you couldn’t get divorced as easily, so probably lots of couples carried on being married while both had other partners.

      2. Anonsie*

        Even though I share a bed with my partner at home, I would probably rather have my own room while traveling for work actually. Shedding off all my at-home junk while traveling for business is kind of a big deal for me to stay energized the whole time.

      3. Today's Satan*

        My boyfriend of 13 years and I do NOT share a bed or a bedroom. Even with a CPAP machine, he is an epic snorer. I would be brain-dead and non-functioning on any trip where I had to share a bed or bedroom with him, because of extreme sleep deprivation.

    2. LBK*

      That’s where I’m at here – if the company had asked them to share a room or it were normal for people to share rooms during business travel in general, I’d find it skeezy to add charges. But I don’t think it’s wrong to deny the company the chance to save money that they didn’t even ask for in the first place (with the possible exception of working for a nonprofit, where it could be argued that every dollar counts and you should always be cognizant of what you’re costing the company).

    3. Taco Bella*

      I don’t get people who’d WANT to share a room with their SO. Half the fun of business travel is having an entire bed full of pillows to myself.

    4. OP*

      They initiated this, and for another event where all employees shared rooms, I asked if they’d rather room together or with a same sex coworker. Obviously they said together, but we didn’t assume.

  11. Techfool*

    Is it worth your time, Jon’s time and Ygritte’s time to query this?
    Probably not.

    1. PEBCAK*

      I do like the language suggested upthread that says “don’t do it again” though.

  12. Lily in NYC*

    I guess the champagne and berries were part of the package and not itemized? Because when I do an expense report for someone else, if I see anything like a movie on the hotel bill, I just don’t put it on the reimbursement report and then before I submit it I go over it with them so they can tell me if I’m mistaken. I just take out what we don’t cover but it’s the norm here.
    If this were one employee and a spouse I’d call shenanigans, but I think the fact that they both work there make it a grey area and probably worth letting go.

    1. some1*

      It’s not just an expense report, though, it’s the LW’s card. She is responsible for the charge.

      1. Meg Murry*

        Can you ask the hotel for an itemized bill?

        Or at one place I worked, the policy was to have the hotel front desk could split the bill into 2 separate receipts – one for Jon and one for Ygritte. That way, it is clear that the hotel charges are <$X for 1 person and <$X for the other person, therefore overall <$2X – as opposed to someone auditing later and saying "hey, why did Ygritte get a room that cost almost $2X when the standard per-person rate is $X?" – it is clear how much the cost was per employee.

          1. Meg Murry*

            I know I keep coming back to this, but I also think it is important because if Jon and Ygritte are in different reporting structures, they should be charging their expenses to their separate groups – so even though this cost the company less than $2X, unless you have a split bill or a way to charge Jon’s group’s account code, your department is on the hook for the $2X. Still all company money, but possibly 2 different budgets.

  13. Allison*

    While I do agree that it’s probably not worth raising a stink about this, I do worry that word of this does get to a higher-up, OP could get in trouble for approving it. Whether OP admits that they saw the cost and figured it was no big deal, or feigned ignorance and claimed to have missed that charge, they could get in trouble.

    OP, once you approve the charge, is there any way that someone above you will notice it?

    1. OP*

      Maybe? I’m not sure. I learned “package deals” are not okay, but also people don’t look at my receipts too closely because I have been with the company a while and am trusted.

  14. Laurel Gray*

    At SomeTimeAgoEmployer, I reconciled expense reimbursements for a sales team.One saleswoman used to send in receipts for 8 oz filet and two a la carte sides and $6 fancy schmancy bottled water with $8 trail mix. One day there was a random $30 charge on a hotel folio she submitted. I called the hotel to get an itemized bill because “entertainment” wasn’t going to cut it. The charge ended up being 2 adult films on 2 different nights of a week long conference. I vaguely recall one of the titles being something crazy like “DILFs in kilts” or something. The controller always did a once-over of the receipts accompanying the AMEX statements and I think I only saw one or two statements from this saleswoman ever again.

      1. Apollo Warbucks*

        In the UK a senior politician called Jacqui Smith a idently charged a porno her husband watched to the tax payer in about 2009 or 2010.

    1. OP*

      Dang, that makes me feel better about this. Someone once left their medical records for the sperm bank on the fax machine and that was one of the more awkward moments of my life. And his, since they hadn’t gone through so I had to return them to him.

  15. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

    I have mixed feelings here. And I am someone who manages a charity and is very concerned with minimizing expenses. A few years ago, I had to reserve a room late for a conference. The only rooms left were on the “Executive Floor”. This came with lots of little perks, including a nice breakfast. The regular rooms did not include breakfast. In reality, the room was only $10 more expensive than the group rate for a regular room, which is about what I would have been reimbursed for breakfast, so it was almost exactly the same price (literally cost 35 cents more per day). At the same time, I felt a little bad about charging a fancy room (with 3x/day housekeeping) to a charity. It doesn’t look great. I went to the trouble to put this in writing for my board before the conference just so there wouldn’t be any questions about appropriateness.

    I don’t think they did anything terrible, but I also do think it was wise to do without saying something first.

  16. KT*

    It very much depends on the employer/industry, too.

    In very regulated industries where even the appearance of impropriety is everything–these 2 would be fired. In my former job, a couple booking a honeymoon suite rather than a regular hotel room could very well be splashed on the front page of newspapers as an example of the evil industry running amuck.

    1. OP*

      We’re pretty regulated, but we’re also small potatoes in the industry so not likely to be front-page news. It’s like a tech startup vs. Google.

  17. Tattooine*

    Depends, I think.

    I work with my spouse (OP, it’s not always a black and white choice), though we usually don’t travel on short trips together since we are currently in difference parts of the same organization. When we move for work to another assignment, though, we are each authorized a certain limit on our housing, shipping, etc. So we have more money to spend on temporary quarters after we move out than a family with only one employee. Similarly, we get to ship more stuff, even though it’s still just one household. If we were to travel and stay in a hotel, we’d almost certainly stay together (I mean, we are married after all), and though I have a hard time imagining we’d blow double per diem, we’d be authorized to spend up to that double per diem amount. This is all permitted.

    TL;DR: if the organization’s guiding rule of thumb is the cost authorized per person, not the absolute cost of a single room, I don’t think it’s a big deal. It saves money, after all.

  18. TracyDee*

    Know how some things are “technically” okay to do but just don’t feel right? This whole business with the honeymoon suite doesn’t feel right to me, although I can’t put my finger on it just why.

    Kind of like the owner of a company “could” let his daughter come into work 10 hours per week and pay her for forty, but it wouldn’t look right.

  19. Eliza Jane*

    This reminds me of when I went on a business trip overseas. I had a budget of (let’s say), $15/day for breakfast, $20 for lunch, and $40 for dinner. I don’t like eating out for breakfast, so on day 1, I went to a store and bought groceries for a week of breakfasts — cereal, fruit, milk, pastries, things like that. I also bought soda, which I drink in the morning to wake up. It was around $25.

    When I went to expense it, the company yelled at me, because it was a grocery store trip and not a restaurant, and I spent more than $15, so it wasn’t an allowable cost. Nevermind that the total bill was less than 3 days of breakfast at the hotel restaurant, and I was saving them around $60 over the course of the week.

    I never made any effort to save the company money on travel again. If I had a $40 dinner allowance, I’d get as close to $40 as I could get without going over.

    This couple probably said, “Hey! We can save money overall and have a MUCH nicer experience by rooming together! Literally EVERYONE wins!” If the company says, “No, wait, it’s not enough that we’re saving money, you’re keeping us from saving EVEN MORE MONEY by choosing comfort yourself,” they’re asking every married couple from now on to ask for separate rooms so they can have two showers, since there is zero benefit to them from foregoing the second room.

    1. Sunflower*

      This is exactly what I wanted to say. If OP does say something, she runs the risk of the couple saying ‘well last time we try to save them money again’. Just not worth it IMO

    2. Anonsie*

      That’s kind of how I felt about it as well. I’m guessing Jon and Ygritte were looking at what was available and realized they could get a nicer room plus food and still save money and they thought, win win! And really, that seems overall ok.

      I would suggest the OP just let them know that next time they need to check with her in advance on changes to booked travel, because they shouldn’t be altering her reservations without telling her anyway.

      HOWEVER that is assuming there’s no regulatory or other oversight-related reason why the package could get people in trouble. As a few people have noted, many industries are Not Ok with things that appear extravagant even if they are functionally a good deal. The OP has noted there’s a lot of oversight in her work and is worried about how they will take it, so without knowing exactly the type of business or what the situation is I’m not sure how to give more specific advice on how to handle that angle here.

      1. AnnieNonymous*

        Your comment made me realize what’s really bugging me about the situation: they’re using the card for things that aren’t authorized. They weren’t supposed to use it for room service food, but they still did. Doesn’t matter if it was included. They’re finding creative ways to break the rules, and that would make me nervous.

    3. JustSomeone*

      Late to the party, but yeah, this. No, they didn’t save the company as much money as they could have – but presumably they also didn’t stay in a hostel, employees don’t go everywhere on foot when on a business trip and reimbursement for meals are not only made for instant ramen. The company was willing to spend $X for two employees, they spent less than that and had a nice time as a bonus.

  20. AndersonDarling*

    I would take the easy way out and submit the expense report with the itemized receipt and let Finance decide to approve the reimbursement. I don’t think the OP would be held responsible just because the charges were made on her card.
    Also, it is possible that the couple asked their manager about the upgrade when they offered to room together.

  21. OP*

    OP here. After I wrote that I re-read our T&E policy and realized that we do spell out “no package deals.” I wound up discreetly mentioning it to our HR manager. Specifically, I said “an employee” charged “a package deal” to my card but it was within reason for spending, and I wanted to know if there was an issue to report. I left out the married/romance package aspect and didn’t share their names right away, figuring either it was an issue and HR would need to know anyway, or it wasn’t and she wouldn’t ask.

    Not sure why the policy exists, but I guess there have been issues with similar packages when there was NOT a married couple staying there. So I’ve been instructed to find out what the actual cost of a normal room at that hotel would be, and then we proceed from there. I’m trying to make this entirely about “this is an out of policy charge” and leave out the romance package bit. Unfortunately, this might mean that the employees have to come up with the cash to reimburse the company, which will be challenging for them. While I had to report the charge or risk being held accountable myself, I’m hoping I can ultimately convince their managers to slap them on the wrist and forgive– if it was a first offence. However, these employees have had other issues with T&E policy compliance before, so they might not be so forgiving.

    1. Anonsie*

      I think this is the best way you could have handled it so far. Make sure your own butt is pretty thoroughly covered when it comes to stuff like this, at the very least.

    2. The IT Manager*

      Good update. Follow the documented rules. I’m willing to bet the no package rule exists because of a similar situation – maybe not with a married couple or the romantic aspect, but someone got a “deal” that got them perks on the company’s dime.

    3. Testy*

      It’s your call, but this is not some place I would like to work. Save the company money and you stab them in the back. Great job :/

      1. LawBee*

        that’s a harsh view. And based on the update, I doubt the upgrade to the package was done with the intent to save money.

      2. tango*

        Really? Did you see up thread where the OP remarks they work in a heavily regulated industry so have tighter accounting and auditing rules than the average company? Did you see where the company credit card this package was charged to was in her name so ultimately she’s responsible for any charges on it? The company T&E manual expressly forbids package deals. Whether you or I agree with their reasoning does not matter. And I don’t blame the OP. She doesn’t want to get into trouble if the charge is investigated and she’s signed off on it so held also accountable.
        I’m sorry but being ignorant of your companies T&E policy when as a part of your job is to travel a fair amount (as it sounds like these two do) is not an excuse.

    4. LBK*

      I’m curious about the spirit in which that rule was made; I can’t quite understand the logic of how it applies to this situation. I can see if maybe someone ordered a package that was over the usual travel budget and then acted like it was the cheapest option available, but in this case it just doesn’t make sense to me.

      1. Natalie*

        Could be tax related. The IRS has been known to scrutinize travel expenses and a “honeymoon package” or similar is going to look clearly not business related, and thus improperly deducted.

        1. Cassie*

          This. I work at a public university and our travelers/employees are not allowed to book package deals on Travelocity, etc because of IRS policies, even though it can be cheaper than booking the air and hotel separately. Hotel bill has to be itemized too.

      2. Ann O'Nemity*

        Yeah, I can think of lots of times where a package can save money. Heck, on my last business trip I needed to rent a car and it was cheaper to get the room+parking package instead of paying for daily valet.

      3. OP*

        I agree, it seemed stupid, and was clearly designed without thinking of this situation. Still, not my call.

    5. the_scientist*

      I was on the “leave it” side of the fence until this update- the fact that they’ve had issues with not complying to the policy in the past might indicate a certain degree of carelessness or maliciousness. Is your policy super complicated? I get that it’s up to individual employees to understand how policies apply to them and to seek clarification where needed, but if your travel policy is particularly strict and especially if you’re finding that several employees are having difficulty with the policy, it’s worth someone’s time to spell that out really clearly and communicate it frequently.

      Example time! I used to frequently book travel and process expense reimbursements for my old job. This was for a grant-funded research project housed in a hospital in Canada (and therefore funded by public dollars), which meant we had to comply with the travel policies of both the grant (government, so pretty strict) and the hospital (also pretty strict). My job was made difficult by the principal investigators who for whatever reason just DIDN’T GET the travel policies, or didn’t care to remember them. One of the things was that we had to book all flights in-house through the hospital’s designated travel company and they had to be on a purchasing card, and I so often had scientists try get reimbursed for flights that they’d booked themselves, or I’d get a phone call saying “I’m booking this flight now!” and I’d be like “NO WAIT NO DON’T”. And I had to refuse a bunch of expenses, which left people pissed off and out-of-pocket, because they didn’t have access to the policy while travelling (and didn’t have it memorized) and thought it would be OK. The best solution I could come up with was to write up an email spelling out the travel policy in like, 3-5 bullet points. I sent the same email out once every quarter, and if I knew someone was planning to travel, I would proactively contact them and remind them of the policy, while offering to assist them in booking stuff to make sure all their expenses could be covered. If this isn’t a fireable offence, it’s possibly worth communicating the policy clearly to this couple- their attitude and their actions after could also be helpful in discerning their true intent here.

      1. Meg Murry*

        Yup, I’ve seen this too. And it can go way back, too. I watched someone have to go through 7 years worth of travel expenses from handwritten receipts from months-long trips to Mexico to pull back out all the alcohol, because the trips were taken on NSF grants, which have very specific rules about not funding alcohol, and the institution wasn’t willing to risk getting audited and possibly lose the chance at getting more NSF funds. Never mind that in Mexico beer is often cheaper than water or soft drinks – a policy is a policy when it comes to outside funding. It was a super royal pain in the ass, and in the end I think the principal investigator wound up writing a check for something like $200 or $300 – small potatoes in the grand scheme of a multi-million dollar grant, but one the head of grant funding wasn’t willing to risk.

      2. Ad Astra*

        Clear expectations are always a good idea. If your policy is complicated, someone ought to consider either simplifying it or giving employees extensive training/resources/reminders to help them stay on the right side of things.

      3. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

        At the old job, I used to set-up a 1/2-hour pre-travel meeting with my employees before their first trip. Some of it was just to walk them through our booking system, but some of it was to stave off potential situations and answer questions. Our T&E policy was pretty straightforward, but for employees who had never traveled it was helpful.

          1. SambaQueen*

            First day is probably not the ideal time. New hires are trying to process a huge amount of info on their first day. Providing the training when it becomes relevant to them is likely to make it much more effective in terms of comprehension and retention.

            And is that the only time they get training on it? If so, I’d be amazed if people remember 20% of that training by the time they actually start booking travel.

            1. Meg Murry*

              +1 to doing a refresher on something other than the first day. There is so much info to take in on the first day. At a minimum, a few key bullet points, like others have mentioned, is a good idea for a refresher. It also makes a huge difference if this is the employee’s first job traveling or not. Once you’ve traveled, basics like “keep both the itemized receipt and credit card slip with tip from meals” become a given, but for newbies it’s all overwhelming and they are just playing it by ear.

              Is the T&E policy available online to the employees? You mentioned there have been some concerns with Ygritte’s expenses – has anyone gone over the policy with her? Has anyone mentioned to her common places where people make mistakes, or charge expenses that are then deemed “not valid”?

            2. OP*

              Most employees begin travel immediately. When there is a delay of even a couple weeks before the first trip, we retrain. However, good idea to schedule regular refreshers on the policy.

    6. fposte*

      I think you handled it well. And maybe it’s my stern state experience talking, but if on a business trip you order something outside of the norm without getting it approved, you’re taking the risk of having to eat the cost.

    7. Meg Murry*

      I wrote this upthread, but if Jon was supposed to be there on business, not just to spend the night with Ygritte, couldn’t they ask the hotel to split the bill into 2 separate receipts (one for Jon, one for Ygritte) and submit 2 expense reports and then they would both be within the spending limit of one night hotel room? Or was there not really a business need for Jon to be in the same city?

      I agree that the employer shouldn’t have to foot the expense of a “package deal” especially if it came with champagne and strawberries, etc – but if it is within the limits of the cost of 1 room per night per person that doesn’t seem so bad.

      I’d make Jon and Ygritte do the legwork of calling the hotel themselves though, since they were the ones who skirted the T&E policy – just because it’s your credit card doesn’t make it your job. Could Jon, Ygritte or both get a travel advance in future so they don’t have to use your card anymore? I’d say if it’s made it to HR it’s within your right to say you don’t want to book expenses on a card with your name on it anymore for people who don’t follow policy. Because what happens if next time the policy they don’t follow is forgetting receipts? Are you the one who would be responsible for footing the bill? At a minimum, next time I was asked to book something using your card I would send a copy of the T&E polices and remind Jon and/or Ygritte (whoever the expenses are for) that they need to stay within the guidelines of the policy.

      1. OP*

        I am intending to cut off Ygritte’s access to my corporate card. The move is done and the house is bought. I will be cautious about agreeing to do this again.

    8. LawBee*

      Well done! you struck exactly the right tone, and I also say kudos for being sensitive to the norms in your company.

      And this: “Unfortunately, this might mean that the employees have to come up with the cash to reimburse the company, which will be challenging for them.”

      Well, that’s on them. You takes the chances with the upgrades on the company dime, you pays the costs. Or something like that, haha.

    9. Ad Astra*

      Sounds like a great approach. The “honeymoon suite” detail makes the situation sound tawdry when it’s really not. That’s fine for when Allison needs an interesting headline, but I think sharing it with HR when it’s not really relevant could unfairly shade HR’s perception of the situation. It doesn’t actually matter if it was a honeymoon suite or a business suite or a high rollers suite; what matters is whether the charge violated company policy.

      For some reason, I’m kinda rooting for those crazy lovebirds, but then I’m not in charge of enforcing the T&E policy.

    10. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Make sure, though, that they’re not comparing it to the cost of a normal room at the hotel (which is what HR asked you for) but rather to the cost of two normal rooms, because that’s presumably the relevant comparison here, right? (Which probably does mean that you’re going to need to explain the context to HR.)

      1. OP*

        Yes, I did eventually explain the context. I just let her give her opinion first so she would feel awkward about changing it.

    11. Ohword*

      If your company so thoroughly combs over expense reports, why didn’t you know the hotel policy? Why didn’t you say “This isn’t normal procedure, let me check on that” when they said they wanted to bunk together? Why didn’t the couple know the policy?

      Why didn’t you say to HR “a couple bunked up and I wasn’t aware of the specific no-package policy and didn’t make them aware of it either. The cost ended up being lower than 2 rooms anyway so is there anyway we can mitigate potential blowback due to the oversight of both myself and the new employees?”

      It still seems like you couldn’t wait to “tattle.” I have no idea why this is annoying me to no end.

      1. OP*

        I didn’t know the package deal because it’s one of those things that would never occur to me to do, so I didn’t remember it for myself. It’s been a while since my training.

        Mostly I just wanted to be sure I would not get in trouble, and if they could get in trouble for this in the future, we needed to address it so they don’t think it’s okay and then get denied an even larger bill.

        In talking to HR, I stressed that it wasn’t that much and that the stuff the package included was not outside the “ok to expense” category in general, and emphasized that we still saved money over having them room separately. I tried my best to minimize the impact but I know Ygritte is new and if this was not acceptable she would need to know NOW before she gets in big trouble.

        1. Ohword*

          I totally understand CYA, but if you all got training how, come nobody knew about the “no package deal” exclusions? How come you didn’t tell the two you later looked over it and something needed to be said and they should be prepared to CYA themselves (with a check, explanation that it was cheaper than 2 single rooms, they thought the upgrade would be billed to them directly). It’s the fact that you never asked them what was going on was before you went to HR is the “tattle-y” part.

          1. OP*

            They probably forgot, and HR confirmed it immediately – it was just me who didn’t know it.

            I considered that. But I didn’t want them to get defensive or worried if there was no need.

      2. Anna*

        I think the OP is just covering all her bases. It’s on her expense card, so it’s not like she’s approving someone else’s purchases. While it may seem nit-picky, in a heavily regulated industry attention to detail like this is probably what kept the OP in the game for so long. I wouldn’t risk something reflecting badly on me for this either.

        It’s interesting cause I found to the couple to be distasteful. I can’t really put my finger on why, but it just feels like they’re treating this oddly and unprofessionally.

  22. LawBee*

    I would think that Ygritte and Jon could just pay back the firm for the upgrade, since that was not what was booked. A simple “Ygritte, we booked a room at $x price, but the receipt that came back was for more. It looks like you upgraded the room without advance approval, so you’ll need to cover the difference” could fix this. I feel like that’s reasonable, and also avoids the potentially awkward “honeymoon suite” conversation.

    I upgrade all the time, but I also don’t bill the firm for the upgrade.

    1. OP*

      That was the worst case scenario here, honestly. There was never a prospect of them being fired. We once had a guy expense VIP night at a bar for $600 a person and he’s still here ($1800 poorer and much less dumb, but still here).

  23. Lola*

    This is the part that is worth considering: “both have hard to find credentials.” If they’re valued employees, nickel-and-diming them for something that didn’t really hurt the company’s bottom line is detrimental. I certainly wouldn’t want to work for the company that approaches its employees in such an adversarial way.

  24. Engineer Girl*

    I disagree with Alison’s logic. The couple asked to room together. This provided a benefit to both parties. The newlyweds got to stay together as they requested and the company saved money. This is a win/win situation.
    The company paid for the hotel rooms with their money. It was up to the company to decide where those savings went. The savings did not belong to the couple to do as they chose. The company, and only the company decides what to do with the savings.
    This is not the same as a free upgrade, which has zero cost to the company and extra benefit to the employee. This upgrade cost the company money.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      But they didn’t need to ask to room together. They could have roomed together regardless; they’re adults. They could have let the company pay for two rooms and then both slept together in one. The only reason to speak up is out of consideration for the company.

      1. Engineer Girl*

        They didn’t need to but did, because they considered it a benefit to them.
        The point is that you get to do with your own money as you see fit, and the company gets to use their money as they see fit. Neither of you gets to decide on what to do with the others money. The savings belonged to the company because they were footing the bill. Therefore the company gets to decide on the use of the savings.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          But they could have gotten the benefit of sharing a room by not speaking up too (and letting the company pay for two but using only one).

          I just can’t see it as unreasonable to get one hotel room that costs less than the company would be paying for two. I mean, if they realized at the last minute that they wanted to revert back to two (because someone had to get up ungodly early or stay up late working or something like that), I can’t imagine a reasonable company having an issue with that and saying “no, you’d offered us savings because of your marriage and now you must share a room even though we’d normally pay for two for two employees.”

          1. AnnieNonymous*

            Hmmmm, I understand what you’re saying and I don’t disagree with it, but this is a weird situation where the OP is responsible for speaking up because it’s her job to notice when projected costs don’t line up with what’s actually spent. So I think she needs to bring it up, and then her job’s done. But I also think that maybe the management should decide that it’s okay.

          2. Engineer Girl*

            I agree that if they wanted two rooms they should get them, because they would be treated just like any other employee.
            The company very well may have said “fine, use the extra money for a splurge. But they didn’t because they were never given the opportunity. The couple hijacked the decision making process by deciding on their own what to do with the money without involving the company.
            The whole point is that the company was never offered the decision when they were footing the bill. You don’t get to decide what to do with other people’s stuff, even if it may be beneficial to them.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              But the culture in a lot of places is that when it comes to standard travel allocations, you do have that flexibility, as long as you stay within the standard individual allotment.

            2. LBK*

              Except in many cases you do get to decide, because these are grown adults, not children getting allowance from their parents – depending on what level these people are at and how much travel their jobs involve, they may be entrusted to make budget decisions without having to run everything by someone higher up.

  25. HR Caligula*

    I don’t agree this should be ignored, however no slap on the wrist needed either. It’s best the couple knows going forward this type of expense isn’t company practice whether they travel individually or together.

  26. Steve G*

    My only issue here is champagne with breakfast (if I understand correctly that it came with breakfast, as it does w/ weekend brunch’s). I have been no teetotaler, and I feel that alcohol during the day is a no-no the earlier you get in the day, unless it is a holiday or special occasion, but especially not on a working day and especially not while travelling. You can’t afford to lose even 10% of your focus while travelling for work IMO.

    1. and she's a lot like you*

      Having dined at a great many company-sponsored champagne breakfasts, I can tell you for a fact that they don’t force you to drink anything you don’t want to drink.

      (Personally, I’m like the hell with that cheap-ass champagne; how about you bring me a pitcher of that fresh-squeezed Orange Juice, darlin’ – that’s okay, you can leave it here, thanks).

    2. Kelly L.*

      I’m imagining this as something like the champagne toast you sometimes get at bars if you’re there on New Year’s Eve at midnight–more of a symbolic amount, not nearly enough to addle most people. But I’ve never had this and don’t know for sure.

    3. Meg Murry*

      I don’t think it was champagne with breakfast. I think it was probably champagne and strawberries in the room when you check in or delivered shortly after and then breakfast the next morning.

  27. Viktoria*

    I think this is an argument in favor of having a really clear travel policy. OP says up-thread that this situation is addressed in their policy, so maybe it is clear, but maybe it’s convoluted and this is a detail that’s easy to miss.

    For example- in my previous job, I traveled basically every week, Monday-Friday. If I traveled with a coworker of the same gender (which happened maybe 25% of the time) we were expected to share a room. We had a daily hotel budget of X, specified as before taxes. If we preferred to get 2 cheaper rooms to each have our own, we were free to do so. If we needed to spend $10 or $20 above the limit to get a decent room, we could do so. If we needed to spend much more than that, we would need to notify our manager, although time zone differences meant that we would usually be asking for forgiveness rather than permission. Same went for meals- we had a daily food allowance, but if we went a few dollars over from time to time, it was fine. $20 over every single day? Not so fine. It was a good combination of clear expectations, with a little leeway for common sense and good judgement, and the kinds of things that just come up when you are traveling as much as we did.

    In my job, we could have gone for it, no problem, if we were offered a package deal that still fell within our daily budget. In this case, we were expected to share, but had they changed the policy and allowed a per person, per day budget, I can totally imagine deciding to share a fancier room or an upgrade with a co-worker rather than getting 2 rooms (we were all peers and some of us were close friends). The company needs to make it clear whether that kind of thing is ok or not.

  28. and she's a lot like you*

    This has been one of the more interesting letters of late.

    Just MHO but there’s a lot of information missing (or simply questions I’d like answered). Like: is it possible that some supervisor told them that it was okay to do this? Did the couple actually *have* a honeymoon – or did needs of the business deprive them of one, or require that they cut it short? Some companys will give a person one week off when they get married (and I know a guy at my company who’s taken 4 weeks off over the years). Does this company have such a policy? If so, were J and Y able to take advantage of it?

    I know I’m just kinda making this stuff up out of the vacuum, but none of this is outrageous. Maybe J saw the honeymoon deal and called his boss, who told him to go for it. And maybe I missed it but – was this for a single night?

    1. AnnieNonymous*

      I didn’t even read it as it being a literal honeymoon, just that they booked the nicest hotel room they could with the funds they had available.

  29. AnnieNonymous*

    To me, this reflects very poorly on Ygritte as a new employee (for going ahead and making this kind of decision without having earned any good will at the company) and on Jon (who comes off like he used his clout to get his wife a job and then monkeyed with the finances to arrange some perks under the radar that he probably knew wouldn’t be okay-ed if he asked permission).

    OP seems like she doesn’t want to get these people in trouble. If it’s her job to be checking on these things, she’s right to question what Jon and Ygritte did. It’s not up to her to keep their secrets for them. She needs to bring this up with her management. If it’s fine, they’ll tell her. If it’s not, she’ll know she was right to have brought it up. She’s the one who’ll be on the line if J+Y keep doing this and OP has decided on her own that it’s not worth mentioning.

  30. Erin*

    Oooh I went back and forth on this one. Ultimately, while you are totally in the right, I do think you should drop it.

    I don’t think the strawberries/champagne/etc is a big deal since your company doesn’t mind charging drinks.

    I did raise my eyebrows at the honeymoon suite costing twice as much as a normal room. But ultimately, I don’t think your company will probably care, and more importantly, it could bite you in the butt – you could look like you’re trying to start trouble, or who knows. If they directly ask you about it that would be different story.

    But your job is just to book it, right? Hopefully accounting will go to them if they are questioning the expense, not you.

  31. Alex*


    I think I would mention something. I think you should use neutral language and just saying that generally, upgrades require prior approval or something like that.

    First off, she is a relatively new employee (it sounds like) and I would think *most* new employees would hesitate a bit to decide to upgrade without approval, let alone thinking it was fine to upgrade to a honeymoon suite- it just sounds not good. So for her to have no problem doing it, it sends me signals that this could happen easily again in the future, and this time maybe the suite would actually be more expensive.
    Also, It sounds like travel and couples staying with one another sounds like something that happens. If there is any chance of them having a trip together I think you have to mention something. Because again, the next time it might turn out to be more expensive.

  32. Whatever Works*

    As the owner of a small business, I disagree with the “drop it” advice. I would definitely want to know that this was happening because as EngineerGirl said above, it’s not their money to spend…and because this sort of behavior feels like, “how much can we get from the company,” and a bit like being taken advantage of. I would expect a married couple to share a room unless there was some reason why that couldn’t happen. Yes, the company saves a bit where it otherwise wouldn’t, but saving on expenses is a good thing for everyone.

    Having said all of this, let’s assume the difference is $200. I’m not going to let that amount turn into A Major Thing. I’m going to mention it and move on. Unless there are other issues with expenses, then it’s definitely going to be a thing.

    1. Interesting*

      So in your mind it’s ok for the company to try and get the most they can for free from employee’s but it’s not OK for employees to try and get a little extra out of the company?

      I find this highly flawed. While you try to qualify it with “lower expenses for the company are great for everyone!” the reality at many, many, many companies is that lower expenses = higher profit margin that mostly shareholders and the board/execs see. Just like with the American Economy – there is rarely any “trickle down” benefit for employees.

  33. Greg*

    Did anyone else see the headline and think it was going to be a case where an employee had access to their coworker’s credit card and used it to book a hotel for their honeymoon?

    The actual story was far more complicated, but much less melodramatic.

  34. Interesting*

    I think it’s fairly fasinating how split people are on this issue.

    To me, it seems really straight forward. Company would have spent $300 on two rooms, instead couple volunteers for one room and get a nice perk costing the company $250. Company saved $50 dollars. Win! Employees had a more enjoyable travel time, reducing their stress and helping them be more productive Win!

    The “but the company could have saved more!” argument just doesn’t hold water with me. We are talking a very small amount of money in the grand scheme of things, and to me there is a clear difference between upcharging a room over budget and benefiting from an affordable, below/at budget perk.

    1. Toph*

      It’s interesting to me you phrase it that way, because to me it also seems straightforward, but I have an opposite take. It read to me like the situation was Ygritte had a room booked on OP’s card for work trip. Later Jon ended up needing to be in the same place for his own work trip. Rather than using his own card to get another room for himself, they told the company Jon would just stay in Ygritte’s already-booked room. So the issue that they’d have been willing to pay for two becomes moot because the couple said they’d use the one room already booked for Ygritte. The ultimate issue is not just about savings. It’s about what has been approved or not. So when the couple asked to have Jon just stay in the same room, they effectively said “we’re not booking another”. They did not at any point say “can we combine the funds for both reservations to get a suite” or any other reference to upgrades. So the company had reason to believe what they were approving was the same original rate for the original one room. While the company may have approved an upgrade under the premise “hey still less than 2 rooms” the employees didn’t ask for or get approval for that. I can see why many when presented with the scenario take the stance “it’s less than 2, fine by me” but the issue in the behaviour here is the employees didn’t confirm that with the employer. My company has a strict “no upgrades” part of our travel policy. I don’t know if this company does as well, but the OP did mention they had a “no packages” policy, so the employees were afoul of that anyway. But my point is that absent policy making it clear “as long as you’re under the X budget we give you per night, it’s fine” it’s wrong of them to change the reservation and assume it’s fine. The starting point should’ve been “hey is this ok?” and if the comments are any indication, they seem to have a 50% shot at gettting a yes. The mistake is in making the call themselves absent clear approval (via either direct ask or something in the written policy).

  35. LibbyLee*

    In terms of how to handle it. I once had a manager who brought back one of my expenses claims that he’d signed off, and said to me, “I see you’ve claimed for drinks two nights in a row with peer contacts. I know that (work thing which explains this) was happening at that time and so this was legitimate work expenses. But in future you should try and avoid putting in claims that look as if you are just out drinking with the boys. It could be hard to explain this if your claim got audited.” Something like that here might let them know they should think more carefully in future.

  36. State Employee*

    Working for the government it does not matter about the total price but the price per room. We could have 10 people stay in a luxury room and be saving hundreds of dollars but if the price of that room is above the “government rate” for wherever we are staying it will be flagged and whoever put the charge on their credit card will have some explaining to do, a written reprimand, and possible termination depending on the circumstances. The problem here is maybe the approved rate is $150 per room, if that is the case a charge of $250 for ONE room is unacceptable. If they wanted to stay together in a nicer room they should have cleared it with their supervisor and HR, we have forms to request things just like this.

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