Fleet News

Drivers cash in at the filling station

Fleets are increasingly paying for drinks and cigarettes without realising as drivers sneak them on to their fuel bills.

New research has found that ancillary forecourt sales have risen dramatically among business drivers in the last year, up from 38% of sales having hidden extras in 2006 to 43% so far this year.

The research, carried out by fuel management company Arval, recorded purchases of more than one type of item and questioned 700 business drivers.

It found the most common items bought at the forecourt shop with fuel included soft drinks, newspapers, sweets, crisps, packets of cigarettes and sandwiches.

Arval bosses say companies affected could be those that use an expense reclaim system which does not individually itemise purchases, such as a corporate credit card.

Mike Waters, head of market analysis at Arval, commented: “These results add further to the growing concern that there is potentially significant ancillary expenditure at the forecourt –particularly expenditure which involves big ticket items such as cigarettes – being hidden in employee expenses and claimed as fuel.

“The only way to ensure that employees are not abusing their employer’s trust is to use a transparent expenses reclaim system which itemises each individual purchase at the forecourt.

“The trend towards increased value non-fuel purchases seems set to continue as forecourt development leads to a wide availability of recognised and often premium-priced brands.”

The warning comes soon after fleets were made aware that drivers are scamming thousands of pounds from their employers by tweaking their mileage figures (Fleet News, May 3).

Research carried out by The Miles Consultancy revealed worrying trends where mileage claims submitted are either inflated to increase reimbursement or private mileage is reduced to avoid tax.

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