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My first reimbursement process – An Assessment

I finally received my first reimbursement payment on Tuesday. I’d  decided to leave off blogging about this until I’d actually got the money. I had no idea at the time that meant I’d end up writing this post over 1 month later.

I set aside a whole day to get together the documentation for our first reimbursement. For the first one, you have to provide a bunch of extra documentation, such as rental contracts and photocopies of your RUT. There is 1 spreadsheet that you need to complete with 2 tabs, one to document your involvement in RVA and the other to show your expenses. For each row in your expenses you need to fill out the following:

  1. Recipient
  2. Category
  3. sub category
  4. description –  a full description of the item
  5. currency – the currency that it was originally purchased in
  6. cost – the amount in the original purchase currency
  7. exchange rate – the exchange rate between original currency and Chilean Pesos on the day of purchase
  8. document number – the number assigned to the supporting documentation

For each row in the spreadsheet you must supply the invoice or receipt for the item. If you paid cash outside of Chile then the receipt must clearly state what the purchased item was, the amount and that it was paid cash. Inside of Chile then cash receipts must also contain your name and your RUT number.

If the item was paid by direct bank transfer or debit card then the receipt must contain your name. Remember that the CORFO contract is with you, the individual, and not your company so receipts with your company name on only will not be valid. You must also provide proof that the money left your account, so a bank statement showing the same entry is also required. If you’ve made a purchase in Chile, again remember to have your RUT number placed on the invoice or receipt.

If you have paid by credit card you must supply, along with the receipt or invoice, a copy of your credit card statement showing the purchase, PLUS proof that you have paid off the credit card debt. This means a statement showing the card paid. At this point it is worth noting that proof that you have paid the minimum payment is not enough. There have been reports of credit card payments being refused because the whole outstanding amount of the card has not been cleared, therefore it could be argued that you have not actually yet paid for the item you are claiming.

The reason why these proofs are required is, as mentioned before, proof that you are being reimbursed only for stuff that you actually have paid for. This means that items you have purchased but may not yet have utilised, i.e. flights, conference tickets, hotel rooms, cannot be claimed until after they have been used. This is so that they do not reimburse you for something like a flight that you then cancel and get a refund for.

After I had got my documentation together and filled out the spreadsheet I had to send it to my account manager, Konrad. I had to get it to him at least 24 hours before the appointment we had made in order to go through the documentation. In this meeting I took Konrad through the spreadsheet and documentation and he checked it to make sure it was OK. He also asked me about how my business was going, what I had been doing for RVA and generally checked up that I was actually working and not pissing my grant away. He gave me some things to clarify, I went away and fixed them, then he signed the spreadsheet off and  I sent it to the reimbursement people.

10 days later I received an email stating that they were going to reject 85% of my reimbursement. I was very grumpy. A meeting was made between me, Konrad and the reimbursement manager for the next day and I had 24 hours to get my stuff together.

It turns out that if you have a business account and the statements for that business account do not contain your name, only your company name, even if that company name is the same as the one you are in Chile running they will not accept it as proof unless you can also prove that you own that bank account. Initially I thought that a copy of the confirmation letter from my bank thanking me for opening the account would be enough, but it turns out that it is not. Eventually I ended up having to provide copies of my letters of incorporation stating that I was the sole director, plus a letter from my bank stating that I was the signatory of the account before they would accept any payments that I had made out of Radical Robot’s bank account. I was not best pleased.

However having provided these proofs and after explaining a few of the complexities of what I was reclaiming, I got approved for 95% of my claim. I went away happy being told that I would receive an email confirmation and repayment within 5 days.

8 days later I wrote and mentioned that I had received neither confirmation letter nor payment. I received no answer.

10 days later Ian wrote and asked where his reimbursement payment was.

4 days later Ian received a reply saying that they didn’t know.

1 day later Ian got his payment.

4 days later I got my payment.

I never received confirmation of exactly how much the reimbursement was or when it would be sent.

But, I did get my money in the end. It was not as much as I had hoped, but it covered almost everything I claimed for. I learned a lot and feel I am in a better position for my next meeting. Tips I have for anyone going through reimbursement are:

  1. Always provide more proof of purchase than you think you’ll need. You can never have too much
  2. Don’t rely upon anyone applying common sense to the process. Mark everything as clearly as possible and write detailed descriptions if you think it’s confusing.
  3. The reimbursement guys speak no English. Do not rely upon them bothering to translate your invoice in order to find out what’s going on. You may need to find a friendly Spanish speaker to do some translation on anything that is not obvious
  4. NEVER EVER give over original copies of anything. Always provide photocopies. You will never receive anything back and if they lose something and you no longer have the original you’re screwed.
  5. Do not rely on anyone reading anything, including emails.
  6. Unless you have something confirmed in writing, do not assume that they have not forgotten about it.
  7. If you hear nothing for ages, pester, pester, pester.
  8. Put your name on absolutely everything. And your RUT if it relates to something bought in Chile. If buying something in a shop, ask the cashier for a Factura and hand your RUT card over. They should be able to sort you out, even if it takes a while (about 20 mins in Falabella from memory).
  9. Anything that is rejected due to lack of proper documentation can be reclaimed in a later reimbursement if you have subsequently found the required documentation.