back to article Microsoft asks staff to think twice before submitting expenses

Microsoft is telling staff across the entire business to cast a more watchful eye over expenses in the face of economic uncertainty. Some business travel, external training sessions, and company get-togethers are all falling under the gaze of Redmond's accountants. In one recent instance recounted by a loquacious yet …

  1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "think twice before submitting expenses"

    No, what you mean to say is think twice before incurring expenses.

    If I have to go somewhere to do a job, I'm not going to think twice before submitting the expense.

    However, if you refuse to pay my expenses, then I'll definitely think twice before going again - in other words, I won't go.

    No expense, so you'll be happy. The customer might be less so.

    1. lglethal Silver badge
      Stop

      Re: "think twice before submitting expenses"

      Absolutely, this has happened at my firm recently as well. There was a project visit to another site for a day, 2 hours bus each way for a fairly good full (8 hour) day out. 2 days later, we were informed by management we should only book the 8 hours to the project and the travel time was our free time.

      I made it very clear to my manager that under those rules they would never get me to do another business travel.

      It was especially galling because the company was bragging about winning a multi billion dollar contract just that morning, so there was a lot of annoyance over this. Oh well, people will get the time back anyway, long lunches, massaged home office times. All this does is kill any goodwill that the travel bought in the first place. But you never can seem to get that through a Beancounters head...

      1. gobaskof
        Alert

        Re: "think twice before submitting expenses"

        Not paying legitimate expenses incurred should be a crime (maybe it is!?).

        I travelled to Tanzania once for work, total trip was close to 4 weeks, people tend to work long days and 6 days a week, so I did too. Add to that travel time, etc. I didn't get extra wages (though that would be nice, fine, whatever). But they tried to deny a whole host of expenses including suncream and sunhat (it is right on the equator! Often things happened outside). They also refused to pay for my anti-malarials, despite the project I was going out one was malaria research in a malaria endemic area. I won some of these fights, but I never recovered all the costs. Bastards.

        1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
          Coat

          Re: "think twice before submitting expenses"

          I got sent to the US for training on a contract, I invoiced for the travel insurance, airport parking, mileage, temp phone sim with US number which was cheaper than them paying the roaming etc.

          The first of these was rationalised & agreed with If I am injured or incapacited while on your watch, are you going to cover my medical expenses, they were extra-ordinary out of pocket (Icon) expenses that would not be covered under my normal working\operating enviroment.

          1. NeilPost Silver badge

            Re: "think twice before submitting expenses"

            I’m surprised your company did not have an organisation wide Corporate Travel Insurance Policy covering this, often with a benefit covering personal trips too.

        2. elsergiovolador Silver badge

          Re: "think twice before submitting expenses"

          When I was in my twenties, I had to supervise a project in the Caribbean. I got an envelope with plane tickets, wad of cash, post-it with the address and the keys.

          It was to one of the director's pads.

          Workers were doing well so, there was not much for me to do, so I could focus on my own projects.

          Sadly I couldn't claim any expenses, because it was impossible to have any ;-)

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "think twice before submitting expenses"

        Same at our place with our pay review. We're on a very low IT wage for our titles, I'd even say under the local average yet their shitty "check" came back as "No you're paid fair wage".

        Oh really! Well I can't leave in the current climate so I will no longer bust a gut, I will do the bare minimum and my lunch breaks will be "long". All us engineers have decided to do the same.

        Fuckers.

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

        2. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

          Re: "think twice before submitting expenses"

          This might be relevant

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "think twice before submitting expenses"

        The bean counters just count.

        Some exec actually made the decision, possibly whilst being in an Airport First/Business Lounge.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "think twice before submitting expenses"

      Same here. My employer will only pay travel and accommodation expenses for management grades. Staff have to foot the bill themselves, at least the 1st time after which the trips always seem to coincide with a bout of covid. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

      1. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

        Re: "think twice before submitting expenses"

        I'm surprised a company that operates like that has staff...

    3. Zippy´s Sausage Factory
      Windows

      Re: "think twice before submitting expenses"

      This sort of missive from management is usually a sign of something serious going wrong. I've never seen a business - big or small - where this is a good sign.

      1. Charlie Clark Silver badge
        Go

        Re: "think twice before submitting expenses"

        Absolutely, though totally unjustified for Microsoft: growth is down but revenues are still growing and margins as high. You can take the worst excess out of perks without worrying about your brightest and best looking for new opportunities.

        So, take a step back and think: could this possibly have anything to do with certain targets being met affecting certain stock options?

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "think twice before submitting expenses" - consequences

      I was sent to the US once to install gear my then company had developed. Unfortunately, the morons who developed this kit had been untidy and there was a virus in the kit, something I spent nearly a week cleaning up with boatloads of calls to the developers in the UK because we would have otherwise carried this into HIPAA environments. When my bill came back it equalled my salary, but as I was leaving the company they gambled and never paid and I was then not in a position to do anything about it - then.

      Fast forward two decades. I am in the process of setting up a company that will in essence open a new market, for which I will need to license some consultancies to assist companies to consult and install our services, contracts which could amount to millions a piece with contacts they already have.

      Guess who isn't invited?

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: "think twice before submitting expenses" - consequences

        Don't get mad, get even. Invite them but offer them far less advantageous terms than anyone else.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "think twice before submitting expenses" - consequences

          Invite them, string them along and then dump them!

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: "think twice before submitting expenses" - consequences

            That will actually happen. RFS is expected about a year from now (have to set up DCs and offices first), and they're on the list of flagged entities already (i.e. they cannot be contracted unless board level signoff).

            And it's me who has to sign off..

    5. Binraider Silver badge

      Re: "think twice before submitting expenses"

      Actually, I'd be even further than that. If they refuse to pay expenses than I'll be rethinking selection of employer. Casually reminding them that finding a replacement will be just a tad more expensive.

  2. Woodnag

    Microsoft managers personally paid the bill to feed and water staff at a company picnic

    So... Microsoft managers paid the bill for a company expense from their *taxed earnings*, while for Microsoft that would have been simply another cost?

    1. Filippo Silver badge

      Re: Microsoft managers personally paid the bill to feed and water staff at a company picnic

      Apparently. If they love the company that much, taking a salary cut would be much more efficient.

      On the plus side, this means that taxes have been extracted from people who can easily afford it and apparently don't mind it very much, so that's the system working I guess?

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Microsoft managers personally paid the bill to feed and water staff at a company picnic

      "So... Microsoft managers paid the bill for a company expense from their *taxed earnings*, while for Microsoft that would have been simply another cost?"

      That's the bit I don't understand on this entire issue. If expenses are incurred legitimately in the course of business, then they go in the before-tax column and in effect are "free" to the company because they that much less tax. Surely any company making a profit and paying taxes isn't losing out by paying employees out of pocket business expenses. IANAAccountant.

      1. Tom66

        Re: Microsoft managers personally paid the bill to feed and water staff at a company picnic

        They're still not free. They don't pay tax on them, but they do reduce revenue. Same as companies donating to charity. Yes, it's a tax write-off, but the tax written off is always less (barring some bizarre exceptions perhaps) than the donation.

        Of course, the cost of pissing off staff can be significant, and if I had been asked to cover staff expenses even as a MSFT manager on $200k+ I would be brushing up my CV pronto.

        1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

          Re: Microsoft managers personally paid the bill to feed and water staff at a company picnic

          You mean the same revenues that then get booked in tax havens? Deductions will still, of course, be applied in higher tax jurisdictions. Companies of this size have armies of accountants moving funds around and these armies cost a lot of money.

  3. Filippo Silver badge

    I worked for a company once where at some point they told me that, from now on, travel time is my own time, and travel expenses are my expenses. So, I asked for a raise, making it clear that I would quit otherwise. They insisted on not paying travel time and expenses - but the raise was over twice that cost. Hey, if they're happy with that, I'm happy with that.

    1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

      I've bounced off similar, but I think it's petty control rules sometimes: buying a round of pizza and beer for an office at the end of a complex move where they all chipped in above and beyond... no great amount, but nooo, there isn't a category for that. Or another occasion where I needed a flight at short notice, and I noticed a special offer where going business class would save a hundred quid or so. So I did. And ended up on the carpet because business class travel requires exec level authorisation (even though the cost came out of already agreed budget on a project I was managing...)

      My experience over the years was that the projects that cost millions were barely discussed, and the few hundred quid projects were waved through, but if the budget was about the cost of a house... oh boy, then there was discussion. Obviously that was a number people understood viscerally.

      1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
        Windows

        Quirky Fare Deals

        I've had similar, when booking a trip on a bank holiday weekend via train, that for some quirk of circumstances never duplicated the trainlline.com offered me a first class ticket from Paddington to home for 10 quid less than the regular quoted price.

        I can only assume the cost reduction was down to having to share a carriage with Noel Edmonds*.

        *In the continued absence of Paris, could we have a beardy icon (It could double up as Sir Pterry).

        1. steviebuk Silver badge

          Re: Quirky Fare Deals

          You mean Noel "Tidy Beard" Edmonds.

      2. G.Y.

        parkinson

        the old Parkinson's law book has a chapter on this

        1. Tim99 Silver badge

          Re: parkinson

          The bike shed?

    2. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Former Colleagues & Bean Counters Cutting Expenses

      Got moved to a company that underbid the existing MSP, one ended up on less but was able to work out of one office & later WFH during Covid, the other was given the same rate +$15K (Taxable) to cover his out of pocket expenses, in bigger cities, they expected field calls to be done using public transport.

      In that situation & kinda under the gun to remain employed, any trips to the wilder regions of Southern Alberta, would be coordinated to do as many as possible calls in one day/region.

      A different companies wizard cost cutting wheeze, was to move all but one of the former field staff in house (No relocation) to corporate to assume our duties (not in Corporate) & send one person out per week to one region across three Canadian provinces for field support.

      1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Re: Former Colleagues & Bean Counters Cutting Expenses

        Blame Canada!

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Former Colleagues & Bean Counters Cutting Expenses

        When we were discussing our pay issue with the useless fuck in HR & I mentioned visiting sites in the area. She mentioned "Public transport". I said "So you want me to get a bus with several boxes of laptops?"

        Fucking idiot.

    3. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      What kind of fuckwits have they got in accounting? Presumably they've done some kind of outsourcing deal where processing the claims costs… Still, raising salary instead of expense allowances is very expensive.

  4. OldCrow 1975

    M$ looks to be pinching pennys

    The good times may be over in a Biden economy.

    If M$ is cautioning expenditures it once formerly didn't even give a thought to. What else is being affected.

    Of course the source is iffy being a chatty individual with no relationship to M$. We will see what comes of it. Let's watch revenue in the coming months for M$ and Apple, etc.

    1. Skiver

      Re: M$ looks to be pinching pennys

      Every company has done belt tightening exercises like this at times. It might be penny pinching or it might not be depending on the kinds of expenses the company is looking to reduce. This is not to discount what others have posted in the thread, because I've seen plenty that kind of stuff in other companies I've worked for. When we've had belt tightening where I work now, it wasn't about nickel and dime stuff.

      The headline of the article is massive clickbait. It makes it sound like people aren't supposed to ask for reimbursement for expenses.

      1. runt row raggy

        Re: M$ looks to be pinching pennys

        that's exactly the implication that i get from the "think twice" statement.

    2. Woodnag

      Re: M$ looks to be pinching pennys

      Companies making big noise about tough times ahead? Sounds like a way to discourage employees from asking for COLA pay raises.

    3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: M$ looks to be pinching pennys

      "The good times may be over in a Biden economy."

      Remember that changes in the economy usually lag behind the government actions that caused them.

      1. Filippo Silver badge

        Re: M$ looks to be pinching pennys

        > Remember that changes in the economy usually lag behind the government actions that caused them.

        If that was easy to remember, the world would be a considerably better place.

      2. Robert Grant Silver badge

        Re: M$ looks to be pinching pennys

        Strange that President Biden's blaming the Putin Tax then.

  5. steviebuk Silver badge

    Jesus

    Satnav really is a tight fuck. The world economy might be fucked but Microsoft's bank account won't be affected.

    Arsehole.

  6. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

    Oh dear, when I was blue we'd get notifications like this, then Ginni would get her axe out. Before things got austere at IBM though, the expenses thing was a steaming mess. We were supposed to book travel and accomodation through an internal booking service, so when I went on a course, they found me a nice hotel nearby, but it was £200 a night (back in the noughties), and the company card was Diners Club back then,.. so not a credit card, but a charge card. Expenses were paid quarterly, so I would have been out of pocket for over a grand (hotel plus travel) for a couple of months. Assuming the place accepted Diners Club, often the IBM selected hotel did not accept the IBM standard charge card.

    Anyway, I predict some Resource Action at MS if my personal experience is anything to go by.

  7. navarac

    Hood

    It would be interesting to see Amy Hood's expenses for the last year. Oh, right, she only sits in the office counting beans in her bean bag.

    These people are arse-holes, especially on their salaries, and the profits MSFT are making.

  8. ColinPa Silver badge

    How to "save" money

    A friend of mine who worked as a contractor in Europe was contemplating changing jobs. The company had had a bad year and were looking to cut expenses (and surplus fat).

    The VP flew in on the corporate jet to tell them this news - the use of the corporate jet upset every one. The "surplus fat" included lowly paid people who did all of the useful little tasks, like tour the printers every day and check the toner and paper supplies, and "space planners" who organised office and site moves.

    He said the last straw was having to organise his own office move, including several servers, all needing Ethernet connectivity (and so sockets to plug the cables in).

    The day before his move he went to his new "office" and found the Ethernet sockets were not all wired in, and there was not enough power sockets to plug all the kit in.

    He got back to his old office, and found someone had moved in!

    (The VP did not just fly in to visit them - this visit was "squeezed in" to save another trip)

  9. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
    Coat

    Transpar

    Let's see Satya Nadella publish his expense claims

    1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

      Transparency!

      Typo...

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