I had a strange experience on Friday. I spent the afternoon being wined and dined at Quail’s Gate by Rogers ostensibly as a thank you for our business. Yes, for an afternoon I was a corporate fatcat being entertained as a “business expense” which I assume was tax deductible for Rogers.
Now, before I go any farther I want to make a couple of things clear. First of all, I’m not trying disparage Rogers. I find their service comparable to Bell and Telus. I don’t have a company phone, but I don’t find my Bell service to be particularly different from Rogers. There’s a few downright anti-customer moves that all the cell companies do, (coughIncomingTextChargescough), but those are different issues. Wining and dining clients is unfortunately part of business and I don’t want to pick on Rogers in particular. Secondly, I don’t want to pick on Quail’s Gate. Their food is delicious although well beyond my price range. I’m not their target market though, and not every business needs to be aimed at me.
I do want to talk about the practice of entertaining clients as a “business expense”. As fun as the afternoon was, it really comes down to the fact that Rogers spent a large sum of money feeding us expensive food, expensive wine, expensive water and getting us a private wine tasting and tour. It was fun but it doesn’t have anything to do with the quality of Rogers service. Rogers is making a clear attempt to influence the decision maker in another company with factors that benefit the decision maker personally rather than the company they’re working for.
Perversely I think the exercise has the opposite effect on me than Rogers intended. I feel a sleazy when people try to bribe me and I don’t want to feel like that. While Bell might also try to bribe me, they haven’t yet done so. I would feel more comfortable doing business with Bell than Rogers at this point for that reason.
It might work on most people, but why on earth is are these things tax deductible business expenses?