back to article Reg hack attempts gutsiest expenses claim EVER

We're certain that plenty of Reg readers have at one time or another been given short shrift by the company finance department for presenting a dodgy receipt as part of an expenses claim. Last weekend, though, we obtained a bit of paper which we reckon would be hard to beat if you're determined to be shown the beancounters' …


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  1. Cosmo


    Pep = Pep Guardiola

    Obe = Obi Wan Kenobi

    Juli = Julius Caesar

    I have no idea bout the last one

    But if you will drink in such esteemed company, then you should expect a cracker of a drinks bill!

    1. Colin Brett

      Re: Well...

      "Obe = Obi Wan Kenobi"

      Shurely Ben would have said "These aren't the hacks you're looking for"?


  2. horsham_sparky


    An expenses beancounter with a sense of humour? whatever next? hens with teeth? :-)

  3. Andrew Moore


    £98 between 8 people is just over £12 per head. Seems okay to me.

    1. Thomas 4

      Re: Errrr....

      True but that napkin specifically says a total of 9800.

      You know what these reporter types are like.

      1. fandom

        Re: Errrr....

        "True but that napkin specifically says a total of 9800"

        No, it doesn't, it says 98'00, which is the traditional way of writing 98.00 in Spanish.

        It is traditional as calculators have made us change it to 98,00

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Errrr....

          "It is traditional as calculators have made us change it to 98,00"

          I haven't come across a calculator that uses a comma! Perhaps it explains why I see numbers written thus: 100.000,00.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            On the continent...

            Most countries use a comma to denote a decimal and a point/full stop/period to separate thousands. Hence 100.000,00 is one hundred thousand with 2 decimal places.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: On the continent...

              That would explain how Greece got itself where it is today. Some well meaning bloke doing the budget knocked off about six zeroes, rubber stamped it, and passed it on.

            2. Michael Dunn

              Re: On the continent...

              Yup, same in Greece.

    2. Tim Worstal

      Re: Errrr....

      Not in rural Spain it's not, that's daylight robbery.

      You'd expect to be having dinner, including the wine, for that sort of sum.

    3. Stoneshop Silver badge

      "Seems okay to me."

      Except for the fact that in Spain the unit of currency is not the UK Pound.

      1. Stratman

        Re: "Seems okay to me."

        Not yet. Give it time.

  4. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    No good, I can't get the numbers to add up...

    Even with the bits in the box bottom centre (with an arrow indicating they might want to be friends with the terraza numbers), they *will* insist on adding up to 89.50... you might want to get your next meal somewhere else!

  5. Chicken Marengo

    Seems a perfectly legible & reasonable claim to me

    At least it's in something approaching English.

    My finance department get very upset with me when I submit receipts in Arabic or from Taxi drivers.

    Guess which are easier to decipher?

    Friday? Beer...On expenses

    1. JetSetJim Silver badge

      Re: Seems a perfectly legible & reasonable claim to me

      The company I worked with often just waived through receipts from China as they had no way of knowing what was on the receipt. Then they outsourced expenses processing to china. Icon says it all.

      1. Wensleydale Cheese

        Re: Seems a perfectly legible & reasonable claim to me

        When I was in France it was common practice for a bar waiter to give you a printed receipt with each order.

        When you paid they ripped the receipts almost in half to signify the receipt was paid. Add in the fact that I hardly ever saw a receipt with the correct date and time on it, and the wisest course of action was to submit them to the French accounts department, not the English one.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Seems a perfectly legible & reasonable claim to me

          You missed a trick - it's common in French restaurants to ask for a non-itemized bill for your "note de frais". It's quicker for the restaurants too rather than making separate itemized bills when you've got a group of people eating out. With the added bonus of your accounts department not having to know that you had €20 worth of drinks as part of your €35 dinner.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Seems a perfectly legible & reasonable claim to me

            Which is precisely why my company won't pay any claim that isn't accompanied by an itemized receipt and the names of all who partook. :(

  6. ukgnome

    Was you dealing with Chloe Smith MP - as this looks like her sort of accountancy handy work.

    1. Phil W

      "Was you dealing"

      I think you was meaning to said "were you dealing"

      *Post deliberately screwed up to comply with Muphry's Law

      1. ukgnome

        Was I?

        Were I?

        On my face (where's eye)

  7. JDX Gold badge

    €1.10 for a beer?


    1. Lusty

      Re: €1.10 for a beer?

      Yes but it will more than likely be a little euro beer rather than a pint.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    There is a certain strip club in Amsterdam which prints the receipts with little silhouettes of dancing girls in the background. It is damn difficult to claim those evenings on expenses, even when the customer insists on attending such venues (not my choice you understand!)

    1. Horridbloke

      Re: Ahem

      At least you experienced some level of dodginess for your problematic invoice. I recently got lunch and coffees for myself and several colleagues at a pub in Cheltenham. The single item on the receipt was for "nightclub services". That gave me a few problems back at base.

    2. Annihilator Silver badge

      Re: Ahem

      Almost as difficult as the legendary account of someone who had their company car annually serviced and had to submit the receipt bearing the description of "Escort - service"

      1. Kubla Cant Silver badge

        Re: Escort - service

        Worse - the details showed that a gallon of oil was used.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Escort - service

          ...used on a well worn crank shaft and a dry big end!

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: Escort - service

            And a pair of rubber boots for the half shafts...

    3. Elf

      Re: Ahem

      I've managed to pull that off a few times with a VAR I worked for in San Francisco. I didn't even have to turn in Receipts. (It would seem that both my appearance, and the appearance of our client's Engineers the next day qualified as a "Proper Receipt".)

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Ahem

      Now, this may just be urban legend, but apparently there used to be a stipclub in Amsterdam that used to have line items of "Laptop Servicing" :)

      Very expenses accountant friendly :)

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Adding up terraza and the box at the bottom in the middle with the arrow pointing to the terraza box you get 89 euros. So the barman was numerically dyslexic, surprisingly in his favour, and decided that 98 was close enough. Or more probably thought you'd had so much to drink that 8 and 9 in any order would be the same to you.

    1. horsham_sparky

      Re: Dyscalculia

      I bet he chairs the DNA in his spare time (National Dyslexics Association)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Dyscalculia

      Forgot to add, if that explanation gets the claim accepted I want a 10% facilitators fee.

    3. sisk

      Re: Dyscalculia

      Do they have sales tax in Spain? If so that could account for the extra 9 euros. It'd be a high sales tax, but not quite the highest I've ever seen (though damn close to it).

      1. stanimir

        Re: Dyscalculia

        there is VAT, no sales tax in throughout the EU.

  10. Bill Fresher

    The bill clearly shows 91.10 (+3.30) as the total.

    Looks like you've been overcharged 6.90 (unless this is a 7.5% service charge?).

    Oh well.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Or 8% VAT

      No I haven't added it up to check.

  11. Evil Auditor
    Thumb Up

    Lester, I don't mind this, erm, receipt thing. But please, tell me how on earth you can pass on the Sunday afternoon drinks with your mates as expenses? I need to know!

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      "But please, tell me how on earth you can pass on the Sunday afternoon drinks with your mates as expenses? I need to know!"

      team-building exercise, preparatory to attempt to fly rocket plane, emergency planning meeting, sales meeting, team away-day... One must use one's imagination.

      In our books, anything that goes under 'marketing' is likely to be more or less dodgy. Appropriate given that's a good definition of the activity.

      I once had a very important finance meeting with the MD of one of our suppliers. On the terrace of a rather nice curry house, overlooking a park, on a sunny Saturday evening. I'm sure he put the excellent curry, 2 bottles of wine, coffees and brandies through the books. The fact that the meeting component was finished before I'd finished my first poppadom is irrelevant.

      A few years ago I put a skull & crossbones on a 4' flagpole through the books. It was a present for a retiring partner - to go on his grand children's climbing frame in his garden. I still get marketing email from the flag company now.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @Evil Auditor

      Lester whips out mobile and says, "Hey chaps, have you seen this video of Paris, Err, wait a minute not that one. Ah, here it is". Shows youtube video of Vulture I to all present, takes on board any constructive comments then proceeds to get plastered.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Sheer brilliance

      "Lester, I don't mind this, erm, receipt thing. But please, tell me how on earth you can pass on the Sunday afternoon drinks with your mates as expenses? I need to know!"

      Easy - Lester managed to get an entire article about his expenses published - that's how. (Of course if the article hadn't been published, then it might have been harder)

      1. Lester Haines (Written by Reg staff) Gold badge

        Re: Sheer brilliance

        Exactly. You see how this ones works? Write article regarding abuse of expenses claim using abusive expenses claim as example, then claim abusive expense as legitimate expense as basis for article. Gents, I'll see you on the terrace next Sunday...

        1. Mr Grumblefish

          Re: Sheer brilliance

          It had to happen. The SPB have progressed to constructing a Tardis out of tinfoil and discarded toilet paper tubes.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Had one once when went with couple of other people at a conference to a restaurant. The receipt for all of us was a handwritten note that just said "Meal: 135 euros" (well, it said that in Italian) and when we asked for seperate receipts we got an extra 2 copies of the same note! Anyway accounts dept didn't raise any issue.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      As seen at fashionable charity functions in Austfailia.

      Scene: Celebrity auction for charity.

      Players: Mostly TV & Tabloid Media types (B-Ark, bottom feeding scum that give rabies a good name)

      Action: The cutest blondes get given gorillas in cash (thousands, Sydyny stylee) by Media types (claimable expense)

      Blondes win auctions, get multiple receipts. They pocket one, media types share receipts out amongst themselves.

      Monday morning: media types claim thousands on expense (from shareholders, ultimately), later claim 100% on tax (as one can do here for "charity" - multiple times from taxpayers)

      Result: ALL "charities" in Austfailia are actually horrific loss-making money sinks for the government; effectively taking money away from actually like, you know, providing services. Oxygen-thief upper management effectively just take money from the till, legally. Technically it's all fraud, but who does one actually complain to? ICAC? Most of the Commission were in the room!

      Austfailia: You're Standing In It.

      Mind you I suspect every Western plutocracy is exactly the same.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: As seen at fashionable charity functions in Austfailia.

        Looks like you've drunk 98 euros of beer all by yourself.

      2. Evil Auditor

        @AC 11:01 GMT


        1. Steven Roper

          @Evil Auditor re: Jealous?

          Only, I'd imagine, in the same way you'd be jealous of a burglar who broke into your house and pinched your (or your wife's) jewellery.

  13. BristolBachelor Gold badge

    This seems all very reasonable. In the bar we expats meet up at in Manzanares el Real, a single beer will cost you 2.50€, the tapa will be a couple of crisps and if you buy food it comes with bread you could build houses from. The when you do the maths, you still can't work out how 3 beers=9.37€

    1. Dozer


      Don't worry, one of my locals is Perth, Western Australia is charging AUD$15.00 a pint!!!

      Most places are about AUD$10.00...

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Re: @BristolBachelor

        And speaking of Perth, a visitor from the mystic East decided to have lunch in the waterfront bar called "The Lucky Shag". His expenses claim was returned with a note saying "Please explain" stapled to it.

    2. JDC

      You should be able to get beer cheaper than that, it's certainly a lot cheaper in Villalba and we're only 15km away...

  14. bigjokerfish
    Thumb Up

    Godfather of all bills

    Antonio Corlioni = Anthony Corleone aka the Godfather

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Avoid Venice-

    4 of us stopped off on the way for 2 Coffees, 1 beer, 1 soft drink and got stung for 60 euros. That included 3 euros each for the 4-piece "orchestra" trying to make themselves heard in the background.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Avoid Venice-

      hahaha .... used to be the same 20+ years ago when I went there a few times .... once when my sister was on a choir tour there one of her friends decided that he just had to have a GnT sitting outside Florian's in St Mark square whatever it cost - this was 25 years ago and I think even then it was something like £10 as soon as your bum hit the chair and the drinks were similar amounts on top!

      As for me ... order espresso at bar and drink standing there ... fraction of the price!

  16. smudge

    Antonio Colorino

    "...I have no idea ... who on God's Green Earth Antonio Colorino might be."

    According to a well-known search engine, he arrived at Ellis Island on 11 June 1905, aged 21.

    So he was that really really old bloke that was sitting inside out of the sun - the one you tripped over on your way to the toilet. Nice to see him still getting out.

  17. Wombling_Free

    Don't you have a VAT?

    At least down here in Austfailia the one good thing about our GST is that if there's no ABN or GST mentioned, you can play the old "I work for the Taxation Dept." line.

    "Your licence is in order pal?"

    "The man is dry. Give 'im one on the house. Si."

    1. Ilgaz

      Re: Don't you have a VAT?

      In some places, if you say you are from tax department for that purpose, you may end up with hospital bill :)

  18. Scott Broukell

    Fair dues ......

    But I suspect that there's a lot more clarity in that document than the information Barclays et al have been passing off as LIBOR data in recent years.


  19. Jamie Kitson


    I guess you had to be there.

  20. financefriend


    Having just got back from Rome with a very similar scrap of paper with multiple names (none of which ours), ambiguous figures and some italian writing - I feel you pain.

    I will however say that I paid it never the less as the other option was to get out my translator and argue the toss.... to time consuming!

    1. Ilgaz

      Re: Expenses

      It shouldn't be "IIIII", should be "XXI" for 5 (x is 2), they even broke world wide paper billing standard :)

  21. Chemist

    Douglas Adams as always ...

    Bistromathematics - HHGG

    (Something along the lines that mathematics done in seedy Italian restaurants have little relationship to mathematics anywhere else in the universe)

    1. horsham_sparky

      Re: Douglas Adams as always ...

      was just thinking that... yah beat me to it lol

  22. Matt 21

    Isn't that

    how the famous Bistro drive works? So, was this in fact El Reg investigating alternative fuel sources for their next great project?

  23. Manolo

    Only 98 euros?

    I know Spain is cheaper than the colder bits of Europe, but still.... If I were to spend 4 hours in a bar drinking with seven friends and we were only charged 98 euros, we would be laughing all the way to the bank, regardless if we were in Spain or say, Belgium.

    Let's see: drink 3 beers/hr for 4 hours = 12 beers. With 8 persons this makes 96 beers. At 2 euros per beer: 192 euros in drinks alone. Some snacks could add say 10 -20 euros....

    Can I have the address of that bar you vist?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Only 98 euros?

      "Can I have the address of that bar you vist?"

      Is this where we find out the address of the bar is Lester's home address and the proprietor, who wrote the bill, is Lester...

    2. Kubla Cant Silver badge

      Re: Only 98 euros?

      "laughing all the way to the bank" - this is the usual response to Spanish banks at the moment, isn't it?

  24. MrSums

    At last, the final proof I needed ...

    El Reg is really published by Megadodo Publications - or at least shares the same expense claim philosophy.

    Douglas A....

  25. Allan George Dyer Silver badge

    Well done Lester...

    The receipt might not have passed the expenses Tsarina, but you have managed to pass off your complaint as a publishable article...

    1. Richard Morris

      Re: Well done Lester...

      .. and almost certainly just resubmitted it, listed under the heading research!

  26. raving angry loony

    BOFH material?

    Looks remarkably like the BOFH in his "hand written in crayon" expenses story.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    My God, Juli works hard!

    111 times?

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Almost good

    It would have been OK if it had had the bar's CIF number on it, and a VAT breakdown.

    Of course, it would have been even better if the numbers actually added up.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Antonio Colorino et al.

    Barmen often use nicknames to identify their customers. Antonio Colorino could have been someone named Antonio who is maybe a painter, or dresses loudly, or has a funny skin tone (colorino is a diminutive of "color", although it could even be an actual surname).

    Pep (Josep) and Juli are just regular Catalan names, "obe" I have no idea, and Pascual is not a heavy drinker.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I thought you said receipt, not a tax receipt sir.

    Ah, the 'would-you-like-VAT-with-that?' culture. Put it this way, there's no way the Spanish VAT-man or taxman will be seeing a penny of that bill.

  31. Anonymous Coward

    I think I see at least one Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster on that list.

    Seems completely fair to me - we all know that numbers in restaurants / bistros / pubs are unlike any other numbers in the entire universe.

    This is pure Bistromatics - and you'd be hard pressed to put in an expense claim without visiting yet another restaurant to sort the last bill out.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Before you go home...

    My other half, being a maths teacher, would never have let a sloppy bit of work like that go unchallenged. At the very least the incorrect addition would be brought sternly to the proprietor's attention. All items would have to be clearly identified. If there were any offers (BOGOF, happy hour, menu del dia, etc.) that applied, they would be carefully optimised and combined to minimise the bill. The proprietor would also be very lucky if he wasn't instructed to write it all out neatly before we left. Finally, if we were a group, everyone would be informed of exactly what their contribution should be.

    Some people just can't leave their work behind.

  33. Brezhnev's Shadow

    I love the tally-marks, that's just awesome! Sometimes they are more effective and faster than traditional numbers, and certainly more funny ;)

  34. Herby

    There IS a high-tech solution here!!

    On eBay there are lots of nice receipt printers available. It takes a small bit of software to make it look right and maybe a bit extra for the expense of the receipt printer. You could even add nice logos and make it look VERY official. Even better to make up receipts for others, a cottage industry. As a side comment, I see a BOFH episode here.

    You want a receipt, I'll give you a receipt. Kinda like if you want a green coat, turn on a green light!

  35. LeBeourfCurtaine

    Bistro mathematics

    An example of Bistro mathematics perhaps? Invented by Douglas Adams to traverse the universe faster than anything else before, it might explain how the Reg lunch party ended up paying the bill in Spain...?

  36. Madboater
    Thumb Up

    Not a valid claim unless

    the expense was made as part of your journalistic investigation for an article. And now it is, well done for getting that one through.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not a valid claim unless

      Certainly a claim is now justified. But the amount to claim? That's still not so obvious.

  37. Richard C

    Amateurish swill!

    I am reliably informed that one Fleet St hack/legend/etc. once placed a UKP 1000 claim (sans receipt) for "a camel", which was paid by accounts. At the time, the jargon for an expenses claim was something like "swindle sheet". Other claims by the same person apparently included "a yacht", "a tent", etc.

  38. Edwin

    German beermats

    I quite like the German approach of tick marks on beermats - it's very easy to understand, even after many tick marks on your beermat.

    Sadly, the expense department at a previous employer felt that a beermat full of tick marks with the total written in the middle did not qualify as a proper receipt.

  39. peter 45


    You mean the establishment didn't give you handful of blank receipts with their letterhead with the instructions to fill it in with whatever you want? Works well with taxi drivers as well, especially if you tip them well.

  40. Crisp

    I'm taking notes for future expense claims

    Now all I need is a legitimate excuse to raid the hotel mini-bar.

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