If you’re a company owner or other boss and your employees travel as part of their jobs, you’ve probably seen a few oddball expense reimbursement submissions cross your desk. But I’m willing to bet you’ve never seen any quite as odd as these.
As part of its annual report on business travel expense reporting, the travel and expense management software provider Certify asked 450 frequent business travelers for the craziest business travel expenses they had seen, reviewed–or submitted themselves. Certify did not provide any details or back story on these expenses, but in a way, leaving the details to the imagination may make them more fun.
Take a look, and if you’ve been asked to reimburse anything weirder than these–let me know.
1. 35 large pepperoni pizzas-$400.
This expense was submitted by an airline captain whose passengers endured a lengthy wait while stranded in the wrong location. (Presumably none of them were vegetarian or lactose intolerant.)
If news reports are any clue, the pizzas may have been ordered by an unnamed Frontier Airlines pilot who was prevented by weather from landing at Denver and was forced to spend two and a half hours on the tarmac at Cheyenne, Wyoming instead.
“We have some great pilots who work here,” a Frontier spokesperson commented. “Headquartered in Denver, we take pride in our Rocky Mountain hospitality.” Whichever airline it was, though, the expense was declined. After all, why should an airline make getting trapped in a plane on the tarmac for hours any less ghastly for its customers?
2. Towed vehicle-$150.
The market manager who submitted this expense explained that the car was parked illegally “due to importance of appointment.” Apparently his or her boss agreed, since the expense was approved.
3. Separate room for samples-$85.
In this case, the samples were garlic and the salesman who was transporting them got them their own room since he said he couldn’t stand their smell. His boss refused to approve the expense, however. Perhaps if you’re a garlic salesman you’re supposed to love the way the stuff smells. Or perhaps his employer thought he should simply have left the garlic in his car.
The only information Certify provided about this one is “…employee stupidity.” That leaves a lot of room for speculating as to whether the employee had to reimburse someone for the loss or destruction of a car, or else decided for some stupid reason to buy one. Whichever the case, the employee was on the hook: his or her boss refused to pay.
5. Drinks for spouse-$80.
Why did a faculty member want the college to cover a husband or wife’s bar tab? Because drinking helped keep the spouse “calm and occupied.” Sounds like some marriage counseling or perhaps a 12-step program might be in order. In any case, the college refused to pay for the drinks.
Why did a supervisor submit an expense for multiple massages? Here’s all we know: “I thought it was OK.” It wasn’t–the expense was turned down.
7. ‘Medicinal herbs’-$35.
Certify specifies that this expense was incurred in California, which I guess is meant to indicate that the herbs in question were cannabis. The expense was submitted by a company president which may be why it was approved. In any case, at $35 sounds like the purchaser got a pretty good deal.
You could come up with some pretty interesting, or perhaps frightening, scenarios in which a business traveler might need a shotgun. But in this case, the item was described as “a gift to a good customer.” Apparently it truly was a good customer because the expense was approved.
9. Liquid dinner-$15.
A marketing manager submitted an expense for a case of beer, calling it a “meal expense.” The manager’s boss disagreed and refused to approve the expense. Which I guess makes sense if you care about the health and efficiency of your employee. On the other hand, an actual meal would likely have cost more than $15, and whoever it was got a great price on his or her favorite beverage.
10. Adult entertainment-$1,000.
What was the explanation for this unusual business expense? “Customer request.” Given the money spent, it’s a good guess that the entertainment in question involved a lot more than watching a few porn flicks. Whatever it was, the manager who submitted the expense had to foot the bill him or herself. The expense was turned down.