Staple Diet?

Many businesses have had to revise their policies on expenses and benefits to support new ways of working in the pandemic and seen a shift in the mix to include more personal purchasing of office supplies.

The Good Fortune Burger restaurant chain, based in Toronto, spotted this as an opportunity. Like many others, they offer home delivery via Uber Eats and came up with the wizard wheeze of putting on a very special lockdown menu…

Aimed at those working from home, it created quite a buzz of approval on social media, presumably because there are people who like the idea of getting takeaways on expenses.

Of course, this isn’t really anything new to the experienced auditor. Since time began, people have found ways to circumvent rules. I know I’m not the only one to have been handed a wad of blanks by a ‘helpful’ taxi driver when asking for a receipt.

So, what implications does this have for your expenses audit? Assuming a stapler is within policy, perhaps your systems (manual, automated and/or AI-assisted) rely on checking that the supplier is in the stationery business? An Uber Eats receipt would surely fail that check?

However, you get two receipts for an Uber Eats order (unless the courier has snaffled one) so they could claim using the restaurant’s own receipt if it looks like this one in the Good Fortune Burger post:


There are POS and some recent merchant systems that allow you to freely edit the business details and, while we are watchdogs not bloodhounds, it just shows how deceptive the audit value of a receipt can be. Try searching ‘buy fake receipts’ to see how sophisticated it can get.

So, what with staff using local sources and shops coming and going or diversifying in lockdown, it’s much more difficult to keep track of legitimate suppliers of staplers and perhaps an argument in favour of allowance limits, corporate catalogues and good old duplicate stapler testing as part of a periodic analytical review. Of course you could always ask to see the stapler!

Coincidentally (or maybe not), about the time the burger bar got creative, Uber Eats was piloting its new service for delivering parcels. In future, then, Uber Eats may legitimately supply staplers. As if life wasn’t complicated enough!

Postscript – Uber Eats are showing the menu for this restaurant chain as currently unavailable due to closure… so perhaps not a widespread problem coming your way.

Author: Hilary Wainwright

Thursday, August 12, 2021 In: Hot Topics, Newsletters Comments (None)

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