Business or Pleasure?

Denise works for a small media company in New York that does quite a lot of business in Europe.  Recently, she went to London to meet with a potential consulting partner that her company was looking to contract.  Denise’s expense budget was limited, and policy dictated that any “non-essential meals” would not be covered by her company.

Cut to the last night of her trip… Denise was invited to join Polly – the project manager of the consulting company – for a lavish dinner.  Assuming the consulting firm would pick up the tab, Denise agreed to go out for what was sure to be a fun but expensive night on the town.  However, when the bill arrived Polly looked at Denise and said, “You’re okay if we each pay our share, right?  This was more of a friendly invitation and the company will never go for me expensing it…”   Taken back by the 150 pound bill each, Denise threw down her card and tried not to freak out.

So, was this dinner business or pleasure?  Should Denise ask for a reimbursement for the entire dinner when she gets home, or should she suck it up and pay the price?

Tell us what you think!

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5 Responses to “Business or Pleasure?”

  1. Simone says:

    There’s NO question here….this absolutely WAS a business dinner.
    Denise’s company sent her there to get a contract w/ a company. Even if it was clear from Polly’s invite that Denise would be paying her own way, she could not decline the invite. What would she say…”I’m on a per diem and can’t spend that much”? That would only make Denise’s company look like they’re not successful but also that they’re penny-wise and pound foolish (literally!).

    Women are the only ones that worry like this. No man would ever give it a second thought.

    The fact that Denise didn’t know she’d be picking up her own share has nothing to do with it.
    She should submit the bill with an explaination that she realizes this was over her per diem, but sometimes “stuff” happens, and in the end, it was a business dinner that she could not say “no” to, no matter who was picking up the tab. Denise’s company should thank her for not having to pay Polly’s way as well.

  2. Liz says:

    I don’t believe in taking advantage of a company expense, as I am a company owner myself. But, I’d say this dinner should be on the company. The consulting company (Polly) was oh so wrong, but what are you going to do. Denise should tell her boss the truth about what happened and possibly they will reinburse her or split the expense with her.

  3. louie says:

    This is a very precarious position she is in. As a business owner, I would listen to her explanation of this submitted expense request, and probably grant it, if she was a valued and trusted employee.
    Next time might be a different story and she would be made aware of that.
    For further thought, should she originally asked if she was being invited as a guest or was this simply a social get together on a private basis. she would then have had the opportunity to say she was on a limited budget and requested to go out for a simpler get together that was affordable on her own dime.

  4. Simone says:

    Don’t agree with Liz about perhaps her company should make her split it. I agree with all, and said it myself, that she needs to explain to her company what happened.
    I’m also a small…very small…business owner, and sometimes you just have to financially cover employees that come up unexpectedly or are unforseen.

    Denise’s company trusted her enough to send her to London to get the contract, and an unexpected expense occured. Sometimes that happens. I don’t see this as Denise taking advantage of a situation. Liz, if an employee of yours accidently missed their flight nad had to pay a fee to get on the next one, would you take it out of their salary?

    Stuff happens.

  5. Liz says:

    We’ve all heard the phrase, the customer is always right. Well, same goes for a partner or any target business client. Since the partner invited her to dinner, she had to say yes, and the company has to pay (after an explanation with her expenses). If Denise had recommended the restaurant, obviously it would have been a different story, and she would have had to pay anything above her per diem.

Any Thoughts?