Where’s teddy?

14 February 2012
Saint Homobonus, patron saint of procurementSt Homobonus, the patron saint of shoemakers, tailors and purchasing, has a monthly column in SM… Where’s teddy? As you can see from my picture I like to travel light, but I can understand the problems people have leaving things behind in hotel rooms. According to Travelodge, phone or laptop chargers, pyjamas, clothes and teddy bears are the most common items left behind in their hotel rooms – the budget chain reunited 75,000 teddies with owners in 2011. But I find it more difficult to understand how you could forget a pet hamster called Frederick, 100 Duchess of Cambridge masks, or your Vera Wang wedding dress (blamed on the new husband, of course). Fox in the frame You may never have actually heard somebody say “the dog ate my homework”, but how about “a fox stole my car keys”? It’s one of the genuine excuses for tardiness highlighted in job website CareerBuilder’s annual survey carried out in the US. Most are rather prosaic, such as traffic, bad weather or a lack of sleep. But more outlandish claims included a cat with the hiccups, an employee who thought they had won the lottery (they hadn’t) and the cord of a phone charger being cut by an angry roommate, disabling the morning alarm. A lot of mileage Further employee dishonesty features in a poll by Concur, which, in a survey of those aged between 18-24, found that 28 per cent believe exaggerating expenses is acceptable. This figure increased to a third among full-time students. MPs have a lot to answer for. More broadly, people believed it is acceptable to fiddle mileage claims if the company rate didn’t cover the actual cost of the journey, or as ‘reimbursement’ if they work long hours for no overtime. More positively, 82 per cent of employees said they had never exaggerated their claims. Bond in Bognor If one needed any more evidence the economic uncertainty is affecting everyone, even James Bond himself has been forced to cut down on business travel. The planned exotic locations – including India and China – for the next instalment of the franchise, Skyfall, are out, with Bognor Regis brought in instead to cut costs. Plot details are thin on the ground, so it is not clear if Bognor is to receive a starring role or will be standing in for Shanghai. Where next, I wonder? From Redcar With Love, perhaps. Time is money George Formby will be spinning in his grave. In direct contradiction to his music hall song, it appears that if you want to know the time, don’t ask a policeman. A freedom of information request has exposed the fact that Met officers spent £35,000 in the past two years calling the speaking clock 110,000 times. They also spent more than £200,000 calling directory enquiries. The force put it down to the need to record the exact time at which events take place. The Taxpayers Alliance was not happy, claiming it is “taxpayers who pick up the bill”. The pants law I would have thought the answer to the question “what man would buy his wife secondhand underwear?” would be rather self-explanatory. But this has created such a fuss in Zimbabwe that the government has banned the sale of used knickers. The Guardian reports finance minister Tendai Biti’s horror at discovering many in the country buy used garments from flea markets. “If you see your wife buying underwear from the flea market, you would have failed her,” he said in a rebuke to Zimbabwe’s male population. Traders have complained, but paper NewsDay described it as “one of the best laws that our country has put in place in recent years”. Rate a rat A senator in New York has called for a ban on eating in the subway because of the plague of rats that has emerged in the city’s transport system. The problem has got so bad that the Transport Workers Union opened a competition last month to “rate my rat”, giving commuters the chance to win a month’s free travel by providing the best picture of a furry critter. The Union is blaming the infestation on the transit authority’s attempts to cut costs by reducing the number of cleaners, but the MTA, which runs the system, argues it is taking action. Tweet of the month Research has shown that reading to children at bedtime halves the child’s risk of ending up in a job in procurement. @madeupstats
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