update: employee charged a honeymoon suite to my company credit card

Here’s an update from Monday’s letter-write whose colleagues charged a honeymoon suite to her company credit card:

HR was going to follow up on the issue with them, and then possibly their managers, but she wanted to see if there was a better way to pay the company back, so she casually asked the CFO (it’s a small enough company that he directly oversees Accounting). He was genuinely surprised that our Travel & Expenses policy prohibits using package deals when traveling (I guess I’m not the only one who didn’t know it was in the T&E policy). His solution?

1. HR will gently mention to Ygritte and Jon that if they do this again, it might raise some flags, so they should give people a heads up. They will not get in trouble or have to pay anything back.

2. Accounting will rewrite the T&E policy to make it clear that package deals are now okay as long as it’s not more than the cost of a standard room at the hotel (and if breakfast is included, a standard room + $25 per person, which is our normal breakfast limit).

3. Accounting will specifically mention in this policy that if two employees room together, they can book a room up to the cost of TWO standard rooms at the hotel to allow themselves extra space etc, except in cases where they are explicitly asked to share normal priced standard rooms for cost-saving.

4. Everyone gets a quick refresher on the T&E policy after it’s updated, for good measure.

So I’m kinda glad I mentioned it, because it led to some needed changes in policy that encourage employees to save the company money! The CFO pointed out that if they were doing anything embarrassing for the company, we could just address the “embarrassing the company” part as a culture/fit/judgment issue, and it wouldn’t have to be about the T&E policy. But of course, I’m in a company that is quick to change, and a for-profit. The most important thing I learned from the comments is there is no one right answer, and what worked here wouldn’t necessarily work in another kind of job.

{ 58 comments… read them below }

  1. Elysian*

    Wow! I love quick updates. Looks like this actually turned out pretty well. Bravo on being reasonable to all involved!

    1. EE*

      Yes! Brilliant win-win. Good for OP, and her organisation, and of course the kissed-by-fire pair!

  2. Kyrielle*

    This is awesome. Yay for flexibility and reason – because now, what could have been a mess in any of several ways, is instead turning in to an explicit perk that will encourage people to feel appreciated. This is a win all around. :)

    1. fposte*

      I know! Sane people all around and clearer guidelines. Good for you for raising it, OP, and your company for dealing appropriately.

  3. TCO*

    Congrats to everyone at your office for handling this in such a sensible way and for being willing to revisit old policies that no longer make sense.

  4. amaranth16*

    Great update! Glad everybody involved behaved like reasonable adults and that it resulted in some productive policy changes.

  5. Relosa*

    It gives me hope when an organization makes sane choices and positive changes! Yay for keeping expectations and policies clear!

  6. SilverRadicand*

    Thanks for the update, OP! I am glad to hear that you not only seem to have all around sane employees at your company, but that your speaking up actually led to good changes.

  7. Ad Astra*

    This is great! I’m chalking this up to a big win for reasonable management and setting clear expectations.

  8. Dasha*

    I’m not sure why but I keep thinking of the champagne and strawberries part of the first post… now I want fruit and bubbly!

    1. Career Counselorette*

      How ironic would it have been if they’d celebrated the changes to the T&E policy with champagne and strawberries?

  9. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

    This is such a nice update! But I don’t understand why Jon and Ygritte are getting even a casual nudge from HR, if the policy is going to change to encourage exactly the choices they made. Am I missing something?

    1. OP*

      Because this kind of charge still will need to be looked into to avoid being abused. They should include a comment on the form explaining that this was the better deal.

  10. LawBee*

    every time I saw “T&E”, I read it as “T&A”.

    And yay for a reasonable solution and positive change!

  11. Looby*

    I saw update and credit card in the title and thought it would be an update about the guy who had $20K worth of debt on the company card.

    Sad face it wasn’t an update on that one, but yay for happy, sane decisions by this company!

    1. Andrea*

      I’ve been wondering about him.
      ( I also still think about the guy who couldn’t afford the travel expenses that his company forced employees to front. )

  12. Kristine*

    Glad this all worked out! Also, I want your breakfast limit. I don’t even get $25 for lunch! Ours is $10/$15/$30.

      1. Cat*

        I feel like if you do room service breakfast, it often comes to about that. I will admit that I do that fairly regularly when traveling for work because it’s so much easier to be able to have breakfast while getting ready for the day than it is to have to get dressed and ready, leave my room, and then come back to pack/get documents together/whatever.

        1. jpnadia*

          Some of the hotels I’ve stayed in have a stupidly expensive hotel breakfast buffet, like $18, but it’s convenient because it’s not another stop. I’d guess this sort of thing is what the $25 limit is meant to convert.

          Not even in a big city!

        2. Melissa*

          Yes! I’ve done room service breakfast when it falls under my breakfast allowance and it’s really so much easier than the breakfast buffet. It helps me get in the zone faster, too. Sitting at the breakfast buffet, ironically, feels like much more of an extravagance.

    1. Elysian*

      I spent more than $25 in New York once. I don’t have a limit except “be reasonable” but even I balked at that. I only got coffee and some yogurt and granola though. They’re just expensive…

      1. MicheleNYC*

        Not sure where you went for breakfast but that is a total rip off. I have lived in NYC for 15 years and that should have been at the most $10. You can go to a bottomless brunch for about $30.

      2. Melissa*

        I lived in New York and $25 for yogurt and granola is highway robbery! You can get a full-on brunch for that much – I ate at a fancy restaurant in Tribeca on my birthday for brunch and my (BIG) entree + a side of bacon came to like $30. I hope the yogurt had gold shavings in it or something!

      1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

        $5 for breakfast? Even in a rural area that’s pretty crazy. “Well pay for cream cheese on your bagel OR for your coffee… but not both!”

      2. Phyllis*

        $6/$10/$16 for for us in-state. Fortunately, we are allowed to claim the $42 out-of-state if we are at ‘resort areas’ in-state, like Charleston or Myrtle Beach.

    2. Kathlynn*

      Well, I’m not sure if the +25 was combined or separate. If it’s separate ($50 combined) that’s shocking amount to go over. But if it’s combined, it’s not a large amount at all.

    3. Bend & Snap*

      I have straight $60/day. More in expensive cities. It still doesn’t always go far enough if I have to take a dinner meeting.

    4. the OP aka cajun2core*

      I once stayed at a hotel in Atlanta where the breakfast buffet was $20.00.

      At the University I work for it is:
      $75.00 per day if you have *itemized* receipts.
      $45.00 per day if you do not have itemized receipts or no receipts at all.
      These are both “up to” and not a per-diem. So in other words, if you only spend $35.00 one day for food, all you get is $35.00. Further, A.P. is does not like anyone to submit a straight $45.00 for meals as they feel that you are “cheating” and most likely spent less than $45.00 that day and want to get the $45.00.

      1. Today's Satan*

        I would be packing Ziploc baggies and Tupperware containers so I could bring home the leftovers. :-)

  13. TootsNYC*

    So great to get an update, and also so quick.

    I agree w/ the CFO that it seems silly to forbid packages per se, since often a package is cheaper. Or the same price perhaps. And good that it’s being clarified.

  14. AcidMeFlux*

    A pleasure to read an update that has not only delivered a quick turnaround but that tells of a timely, intelligent and common sense resolution.

    I’m a longish time lurker and very recent commenter; I’m a US citizen but have lived overseas for much of my adult life. I love, love Alison’s advice, but a lot of the situations make me despair of US work culture. (I’m still catching up on a lot of archived columns, and yesterday I read one about the assistant to an office manager, who got in trouble for getting 2-3 short phone calls a day from her teenagers. Believe me, after 26 years here, I have a lot to grumble about on the Southern European country I live in, I really don’t belong to the Europe is cooler contingent…. but…..a few short family calls? I don’t get the US sometimes…)

    1. jmkenrick*

      Remember, the people who write in are a self-selecting group! It’s not representative.

      1. AcidMeFlux*

        Yeah, but since I read a lot in different languages in different national papers, you do see a lot more insanely nitpicky stuff in the US.

  15. V.V.*

    Hot diggity! A happy ending for once. I have come to dread most of the updates, so many seem to read:

    “So I approached my boss in a kind manner and clearly laid out the issue and proposed several solutions, and I am sad to report s/he flipped his lid, the whole department won’t talk to me, and HR has revoked my access passes and told me that I now have to park in the “mugger’s lot” 7 blocks away.

    In the midst of seeking a new job, but since my field is really niche it could take years to find an appropriate position…”

    Thank Heaven it wasn’t one of those :/

    1. Andrea*

      Either that, or the update is more like, “well, I decided to ignore the very reasonable advice (which I received only after asking for help), and I’ve done nothing/the opposite of what was advised, and so things still suck.”
      Those are frustrating.

  16. deathstar*

    i weep, because i can only dream of working in such a logical place where rules can be intelligently applied, reviewed, and improved…

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