Travel Expense Policies & Scrutiny?
I'm mainly looking to see how culture is regarding travel, expense policies, etc. Let me know how it is at your company!
My story: I joined Apple knowing I'd travel a lot, but I did not expect the ridiculous hoops I had to jump through for expense reports. I'm far from a guy who abuses expense policies and I stick to the rules, but since I joined I've had the following:
1. Asked why I have split meal expenses. Sometimes I get food with friends who live in Asia. No big deal right, but I had to write down a note explaining what's going on on the receipt because my boss found splitting a $50 meal in two to be suspicious I guess.
2. When having group meals with coworkers I was asked to physically write on the receipt of names of who I dined with even though our expense policy says nothing about that. The expense report app has a box where you fill in names, but no that's not sufficient. I was told to find my receipt and write down on the paper who was there at dinner.
3. Asked to redo my expense report because I did not add the items in chronological order. I tagged each expense with the correct date though, and even though in the expense reporting app the reviewer/creator can sort by date, that's not OK. Had to start over.
4. Asked to include every single receipt even though the expense policy explicitly says that under $25 no receipt is required. I had to write a note explaining why I didn't have a $3 receipt for my Starbucks coffee. I just don't bother expensing my coffees sometimes now.
5. Scrutinized about laundry costs and why I did laundry (just a t-shirt) on day 1. I had to explain to my boss I dropped a saucy piece of meat on the plane.
6. Asked to include a map of my DiDi travel even though I noted specifically it was from a restaurant to my hotel. Honestly, for $2 is this even that big of a deal?
7. Now I'm told that management will "look at metrics" to decide if people are spending too much, and to avoid being caught up in that. Isn't that what expense policies are for? I obviously get that we shouldn't be blowing money on steak and lobster every night, but when you just tell everyone to be cheap when our group is generally pretty good about that, then you're just creating a race to the bottom. If I eat local food in China, I'll probably beat everyone who orders room service. Am I now the standard everyone should follow?
I know this is all org and company dependent, but I feel like this just sends the wrong message. When you're one of the largest companies known for sending employees abroad, where travel IS part of the life for a good chunk of this company, making it so hard for expense reports can be frustrating.
In my previous company, I don't ever recall my managers going through line by line on my expense report. In fact I remember chatting with many mangers about this before and the general message at my last company is "If we're scrutinizing your expense reports that hard, you should be concerned."