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Petty but annoying question about reclaiming expenses

(23 Posts)
CheddarGorgeous Tue 25-Nov-14 13:27:04

My company has a limit of £100 per hotel room night. Even in London. So basically if you have to travel for work (which I do) and you pay for your own hotel room, you can only claim a maximum of £100 back.

I didn't know this so when I found the cheapest room possible at £130 I was only reimbursed £100.

But...!

If you go through the company's corporate travel service (i.e. the hotel is billed straight back to the company) it is just accepted if rooms cost more than £100. The company pays the whole bill.

This is totally irrational right? An I right to challenge it? I can demonstrate that the corporate travel service could not find a better deal.

cheerup Tue 25-Nov-14 14:03:25

This is quite common. Where I work you can only book through the corporate travel service and it really is up to the employer to decide how they wish to pay for staff expenses so long as they aren't breaching any contractual terms. Without wanting to seem harsh it appears that you are now out of pocket because you didn't check the policy. By employees using the corporate service the employer will probably benefit from reduced rates from hotel chains as well as saving the cost of administering expenses claim and lost time as employees search for the best hotel deals.

CheddarGorgeous Tue 25-Nov-14 15:28:43

I knew the policy - that the maximum was £100 but I didn't know that if you failed to find a £100 or less room then they would not reimburse the difference.

It's inconsistent because if you use the corporate travel service and they find a room for, say £120, the company pays the full amount.

And if you have a company credit card you can breach this rule and not be penalised.

So the stated policy is being breached regularly. The payroll people tell me that when people make the case for a higher refund, they get it. I didn't because I didn't know this would happen until I got my pay slip.

flowery Tue 25-Nov-14 15:52:06

I think if it clearly states a maximum of £100 there's no reason to assume they will pay more if you can't find a room for that, I would think you'd need that pre-authorised.

(Easyhotel rooms are normally £60ish I think, don't know if you tried there?)

Why didn't you use the corporate service?

Heels99 Tue 25-Nov-14 15:57:36

Just use the corporate service

EBearhug Tue 25-Nov-14 16:03:27

We have to book through the corporate service. This is not always successful. They once booked me into a hotel in Milan, straight after they booked me flights and trains to Dortmund. I didn't argue when they failed to get the right hotel on the second attempt, on account of them having at least succeeded in getting the right city and country.

Costs were not a problem, though, because it was booked through the expected channels.

NotCitrus Tue 25-Nov-14 16:13:39

You should have been told to use the corporate service (even if they are often dire as Ebear says...) - so if you weren't aware, then worth asking HR/Finance nicely to reimburse on this occasion.

museumum Tue 25-Nov-14 16:19:18

I've been in a similar position and I know why you don't want to use the corporate service, in my last place of work they would have found me a room for less than £100. Never mind the fact it would be in a "B&B" of the type usually offered to homeless families!
For my own safety I preferred to find my own hotels, and if arriving late in a foreign city I like there to be food available on-site rather than wandering the streets alone or trusting a local random cab driver.

Preciousbane Tue 25-Nov-14 16:20:04

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

CheddarGorgeous Tue 25-Nov-14 16:37:05

In the past I haven't used the corporate service because it has been cheaper to book direct. In this particular case the corporate service came back with a quote of £220 when I could find one for £130.

And the corporate service have form for booking the shittiest places in the back of beyond meaning you then spend £££s on taxis, thus negating any savings on hotels.

<sigh> I am actually saving the company money but I am being penalised for it.

CheddarGorgeous Tue 25-Nov-14 16:38:00

Oh, and for entertaining we cannot claim back gratuities on meals, even if it's an inclusive service charge.

Siarie Tue 25-Nov-14 16:42:45

You aren't going to lose anything by asking for it to be reimbursed fully on this occasion so thats what I would do.

CheddarGorgeous Wed 26-Nov-14 13:47:43

Yes - I've asked them to reconsider my claim. And sent the email from the corporate travel people with their quote.

KarenHillavoidJimmyswarehouse Mon 01-Dec-14 16:11:42

I hope they take the pragmatic approach and pay you the difference, but from the company's point of view, it doesn't matter if the policy seems inconsistent, it is the policy (I actually think it's fairly generous on that I can only book hotels through the central booking system - I wouldn't get a penny of the £130 back).

When I'm travelling, I always check costs before committing and there are loads of times when it would've been cheaper for me to book at the time I've checked and get reimbursed rather than do it centrally. However, the FD and his team need to allocate money against requisitions and raise purchase orders so that they can keep a grip on spending. Dealing with reimbursement of expenses is too much of an unknown which is why it is actively discouraged. Even if doing it centrally IS more expensive, at least they know the costs rather than wonder what claims are going to come in.

Picturesinthefirelight Mon 01-Dec-14 16:18:41

Ours is £100 per pair as that is what we can afford to charge clients & still be cost effective.

The rules around expenses are also so complicated with regards to tax that it is far easier to book stuff direct as you know you have the proper receipts & that HMRC arnt going to turn round & say that something was a taxable expense.

Our firm negotiated with HMRC that we can pay a £30 cash per employee per night tax free & they don't have to keep receipts.

I've managed to book hotels just outside London for under £100 per night no problem.

FunkyBoldRibena Mon 01-Dec-14 16:24:21

Just be aware that there is often a deal going through for corporate rooms so that even though they are charged £200 a room, the bonus they get at the end for bulk bookings often means it comes in much less.

I'd use their methods wherever possible, the less out of pocket you are the better.

Incidentally, have you tried using Air BNB - I've stayed in penthouse suites in Old Street for £70 a night. Bargain.

zipzap Mon 01-Dec-14 17:39:58

My boss once ended up on a business trip in a hotel that usually rented rooms out by the hour, had mirrored ceilings (and who knows what cameras hidden from view) and where she had to pay extra to get clean sheets on the bed, because the person booking her travel insisted on sticking rigidly to the company's limit at the time, despite the fact that she was off to a really expensive city - and the clients were Euro bankers so would have been happy to have paid the going rate for a hotel in the city that they used.

In the end, they were so horrified after she came into work after the first night with her hotel horror story that they insisted on booking accomodation for her in the same hotel the rest of them were staying in (thereby meaning our company lost its cut of the expenses).

The cheapskated-ness of the company nearly lost them the contract because the clients thought it was an appalling way to treat employees - particularly as they'd already said they were happy to pay the going rate rather than stick to the usual limit.

So yes, absolutely, you're right that the company needs to get its act together and sort something out - particularly for London hotels at busy times of the year - they need to have a separate limit or have a corporate travel service that finds suitable rooms!

CheddarGorgeous Tue 02-Dec-14 10:27:12

So - update - they have reconsidered my claim, agreed to pay the difference and apologised for capping my claim without warning.

zipzap I can empathise with that experience - mine was not so bad but I have stayed in a hotel where I felt compelled to move heavy pieces of furniture across the door overnight for safety.

I've managed to book hotels just outside London for under £100 per night no problem - yes, and so could I but what's the point if I then spend £30 and hours on travel to and from meetings?

As far as I can see this is a "computer says no" problem. And I'm not the kind of person who blindly follows a company policy if it is blatantly costing that company more.

LittleBearPad Tue 02-Dec-14 10:32:17

But as others say there will be bulk purchasing discounts at the end of the year for all bookings via the company service. So the headline price won't actually be what the company ends up paying when it's all totted up at the end of the year. Whereas your apparently cheaper deal is spent, there will be no kickback.

CheddarGorgeous Tue 02-Dec-14 10:57:09

LittleBearPad - that may be true but it's not transparent. And the kick back doesn't come back to my department's budget. If I have a choice between a £168 hotel room through the company travel booking system and £124 - paying for it myself through laterooms.com - for the exact same hotel as I did last week - of course I'm going to pick the £124.

LittleBearPad Tue 02-Dec-14 11:00:33

But the people running your company may well take the view that central kickbacks are preferable. There may be recharges to departments you aren't aware of.

My employer insists that all bookings are done centrally.

Picturesinthefirelight Tue 02-Dec-14 12:01:51

The invoices from companies like late rooms are a nightmare. In fact they arnt proper VAT invoices, they are emailed booking confirmations which HMRC won't accept. So the company can't claim the VAT back.

KatoPotato Tue 06-Jan-15 13:24:38

Why would you want to pay for it yourself though?

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