Yesterday, CNN had an article about business travelers and expense reports that got me pretty riled up. The point was that people are getting creative about how to cheat the system, even going as far as buying fake receipts online and then filling them out to be reimbursed.
“Those items can include everything from an “accidental” use of the company credit card on a business trip to purchase a suit coat to listing every single can of soda or pack of chewing gum purchased.”
“Bachman heard of one instance where an employee frequented a certain restaurant franchise and asked for receipts so often, they gave him a pad of them. The employee would turn in fake receipts for lunches he never had. He was only caught — and fired — when he began turning them in for locations where the franchise didn’t exist.”
Yep–this is bad. Falsifying receipts or having your company pay things that are out of policy are ethically wrong, in my opinion. Although I’m really surprised that they think listing every pack of gum or can of soda is a sign of fraud. My company allows me to spend X on food every day, and many days I don’t even come close. Soda and chewing gum count as food, so I list them to get reimbursed.
“One woman was immediately fired for putting a $9.95 hotel room movie rental on a business travel expense report, according to Peter Goldmann, president of fraud-prevention consulting firm FraudAware.”
Are you kidding me? They had an employee they spent probably thousands of dollars training, and who they value enough to send to various locations to represent the company, but they fired her for $10? I’m sure this is just a tiny piece of the story, but I certainly hope that they at least asked her if she meant to put it on there or if it was a mistake. You would think she could just reimburse the company for it and all would be well. And there is a huge difference between this and the people who buy fake receipts online.
“So just what are employees getting away with on their expense accounts? Upgrading hotel rooms, excessive taxi rides, double-billing for plane tickets, seats and baggage fees, luxury rental cars, fake lunches and dinners, layovers for personal visits and heaps of laundry on overnight trips, according to Goldmann, Geron and Bachman.”
Um, baggage fees, really? I am a huge advocate of carrying-on your suitcase, but if you can’t, your company should pay for it!!
“”There are a million different ways to game the system,” Goldmann said. But the fallout could ground high-flying business travelers.”
I’m sure they are right–there are probably lots of ways to game the system, and I’m sure people do it. But I feel like the overall tone of the article makes it sound like we road warriors have a glamorous lifestyle, with fancy food, first class seats, upgraded hotel rooms, and luxury cars. My last trip I stayed in a Hilton Garden Inn (perfectly fine but hardly a luxury hotel), flew coach (and didn’t get my upgrade), ate at fast food places and the hotel (because I had no time), and drove a Ford Focus. Hardly “high-flying”. It makes me wonder how many actual business travelers this writer spoke to. Because he certainly didn’t seem to have a whole lot of personal experience!
The comments to the story are particularly enlightening.
So, Readers, what do you think? My opinion is that fraud is bad (duh) but your company should pay for things in its policy while you travel. Yes, this includes gum. And water. And laundry, if necessary.