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Former employer took wages to pay for alleged "damage" to company car. Appealing

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  • Former employer took wages to pay for alleged "damage" to company car. Appealing

    Hello,

    Apologies if this is wordy.
    I left my former employer in December 2013 as my team were all put into redundancy consultation. I had found alternative employment. My company car had to be returned. I had the car from August 2012 and had done approx 50.000 miles covering a large amount of the UK, driving on motorways to country lanes, it was also my only vehicle and so personal use was permitted in the T&C. The car was 2011 registered and so is out of warranty this year. It was a company pool vehicle so someone else had used it briefly before I did.

    My collection of the vehicle was arranged in a rush by my manager due to a change in my personal circumstances left me without a car (I had a car on hire purchase at the end of its hire period and I had been using for work and SDP purposes, the maintenance and running costs at my own considerable expense due to the work mileage)

    I drove to collect the pool vehicle with my dad as I had no car. The vehicle was in good condition, a year old with approx 10,000 miles on the clock. A few minor marks to paintwork as you would expect. I was given an inspection document, one sheet of A4 with ticks where damage spots were and told "all just normal wear and tear" we inspected carefully and pointed out a few additional but minor marks and were told the same thing again. I left with the car, the sheet of A4 and got on with my job for the next 18 months.

    The travel and fleet car policies were all on the intranet and I kept my own copies for reference (I do have all the paperwork mentioned in case you wish to see it) when servicing was due I took it in and company paid, same with replacement tyres and a windscreen chip. I kept the car clean and tidy....it was my office after all. It was washed and valeted by myself on a regular basis and I had no accidents or damge to the vehicle that I could see. There were little stone chips at the front and what was there from last owner but you would expect that.

    When the day came to return the car it was professionally valeted and ready for return. However this time there were three men in suits to collect and an inspection man with a camera, palm pilot and set of tools. He took 40 mins measuring, taking photos and writing notes. I asked my boss who was there with me why did I not get this attention when I collected the car. I meant it as a joke at the time, but very soon I didnt find it funny. The inspection man asked me to sign his PDA to hand over ownership of the car and accept he had done his job. I did so and made my way home on the train.

    Two weeks later a I got a five page letter with photos of damage and the report. I owed in excess of £700 and it was all broken down. I had the right to appeal and HR would contact me to arrange collection of monies owed. At the end of the report and cost breakdown they had added my electronic signature from the PDA. It looked like I had signed this document. I HAD NOT SIGNED THIS DOCUMENT. I intended to appeal and got straight onto my union, the RCN.

    A week later, the week before Christmas they took my wages at source for the cost of the "damage" I had no incom had to take a loan and overdraft to pay my bills, defaulted on my rent and was left owing a lot of money. The company have since apologised in writing for this error and did refund me...but not until a week after Christmas. I had already defaulted on a loan payment and missed all my DD payments and rent by then.

    I have had two hearings with my union rep present since December. They say my wear and tear damage exceeds the industry wear and tear guides as the stone chips are bigger than those allowed. I have an appeal later this month and my arguments are as follows:
    1) the paperwork used and standard of inspection when I took on the car was significantly less than when it went back. They therefore cannot be compared.
    2)I am being charged for marks that were present when I took on the vehicle..I have the documents used. I am not paying for repairs to areas where prior damage was marked. It was THEIR job to ensure their paperwork was thorough.
    3) Where is the car now? Is it quarantined? Have they done the work they claimed was needed? Or has it been sold as its out of warranty now and too old to be a company car. I think they wanted my money to touch the car up to sell it for profit at my expense.
    4) How can I control the size of stones and road junk that fly up and hit my car on all terrains over 50.000 miles. By that argument I should have put the car in for respray the the companies expense after every motorway journey.

    They havent given me answers to these yet. My appeal is set for the 23rd April. Any ideas, policies, legislation, case law I can use I need! They go back to the industry guide....I think this needs challenging too. The car was immaculate except for the small chips and scuffs and their argument is based on the size which, surely is out of my control

    Please help. Many thanks
    Last edited by HJ3227; 4th April 2014, 08:09:AM.

  • #2
    Re: Former employer took wages to pay for alleged "damage" to company car. Appealing

    Originally posted by HJ3227 View Post
    I left my former employer in December 2013 as my team were all put into redundancy consultation.
    However this time there were three men in suits to collect and an inspection man with a camera, palm pilot and set of tools. He took 40 mins measuring, taking photos and writing notes. I asked my boss who was there with me why did I not get this attention when I collected the car ...
    ... Two weeks later a I got a five page letter with photos of damage and the report. I owed in excess of £700 and it was all broken down.
    Putting the above together suggests a company in serious financial difficulties and desperate for cash.

    I had the right to appeal and HR would contact me to arrange collection of monies owed.
    HR have no legal powers. If they are that sure that their claim will stand up in court, and you are sure that it won't, invite them to sue you.

    At the end of the report and cost breakdown they had added my electronic signature from the PDA. It looked like I had signed this document. I HAD NOT SIGNED THIS DOCUMENT.
    Forgery. Make it clear to them that this may be a matter for the police.

    A week later, the week before Christmas they took my wages at source for the cost of the "damage" I had no incom had to take a loan and overdraft to pay my bills, defaulted on my rent and was left owing a lot of money. The company have since apologised in writing for this error and did refund me...but not until a week after Christmas. I had already defaulted on a loan payment and missed all my DD payments and rent by then.
    Their error caused you great inconvenience and financial loss. As a result of their blunder, your credit history has been damaged. This may also result in financial loss. Setting it right will cause you to incur further expense and inconvenience. Make it clear to them that you have grounds for a claim against them.

    Your points (1)-(4) are all valid and should be pressed. 'Industry guidelines' are just that - they are not law. A high mileage company car will be subject to no end of random events.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Former employer took wages to pay for alleged "damage" to company car. Appealing

      Thanks for your points. I have got my documents here.

      Firstly, the company are a massive multi-national corporation and there is no way they can be in financial difficulty. One if the reasons Im fighting so hard. The money is nothing to them but a lot to me!

      Threatening to make a claim or inviting them to sue. I have no idea if this woukd stand up in court or what my chances are....its why Im seeking help. I cant afford for them to call my "bluff" not after the financial dire straights I am now in.

      Regards to the forgery issue, they tried to answer it at my last hearing,
      "The drivers are asked to sign the inspectors PDA..to acknowledge the correct mileage and shown any damage noted on the car. The driver is then given a printed copy of the inspection report which is black and white with no photographs (I WAS NOT given this) When the report is uploaded a colour reformatted version is generated with the same information and plus the photographs, the cost of repairs is automatically loaded into the report. The statement does not accept that the driver accepts liability or agrees to the cost...."

      1) I was given no printout at the time. I have every bit of paperwork and correspondence relating to this case.
      2) re-formatting sounds iffy to me. Why such a complicated system. Leaves room for error in my opinion.
      3) cost of repairs uploaded? From where? Are they current market prices? What is the source and evidence for costs?
      4) It is an unclear system...the RCN have the paperwork but if there is no disclaumer on the summary about the use of my signature...
      Do I have a case against them for fraud?

      Finally, I know the guidelines are not law. What can I refer to as my counter argument against the "industry guidelines" if there is any law or policy I can quote it will help me.

      Ultimately this is a huge fish going against a little one. I cant afford legal bills, court fees ect and they can. They also know this. They kbow they have caused me financial problems and a huge amount of stress, phone and diesel bills

      X

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Former employer took wages to pay for alleged "damage" to company car. Appealing

        As you have your money (despite the problems!) and you have another job I would be tempted to just ignore them. Since you are not employed by them ask them to state what authority they are using to insist on an appeal, that's if they get back to you after ignoring.

        As for the statement that they modify a document after you have signed the original then that is a complete nonsense! They would have a great problem making use of that in any proceedings.

        Just keep all the paperwork.

        It is all down to fair wear and tear commensurate with the high mileage. Sounds like you have a HR dept that may have high qualifications but little common sense. As you point out how can they have a policy about the size of stone chips?

        If they do take action by issuing a claim then it will be small claims with limited costs, and you can then counter claim for the loss and distress caused by the withholding of pay. I do doubt if it will get past the hot air and bluff stage.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Former employer took wages to pay for alleged "damage" to company car. Appealing

          I do see your point.
          However they took my money in two stages. Firstly they took several hundred from my wages BEFORE I had even returned the car " just in case" and the next paycheck they took the rest before it hit my bank account. So they still have my money and I want it back. I am also the best part of £1000 out of pocket in debt I had to borrow to meet bills.

          I had considered disappearing and ignoring them, but in case they do take it further I dont want anything that could cast a shadow on my character.

          I like what you say about HR and and the document modifications. Will make a note of that....in my humble opinion it is still fraud.

          Thanks x

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Former employer took wages to pay for alleged "damage" to company car. Appealing

            Am I the only one seeing a contradiction:

            Post 1: they took my wages at source........The company have since apologised in writing for this error and DID REFUND ME.....

            Post 5:
            However they took my money in two stages. Firstly they took several hundred from my wages BEFORE I had even returned the car " just in case" and the next paycheck they took the rest before it hit my bank account.SO THEY STILL HAVE MY MONEY......

            In any case, unless there was a "deductions from wages" clause in your contract your ex employer was in breach of the law for making a deduction without authority.
            If you are then successful at employment tribunal in a claim for unauthorised deductions from wages the employer will not only have to repay the deduction but also will be unable to recover the amount in question by any other means and could be liable to compensate you for any financial loss you suffered as a result of the unauthorised deduction, for example bank charges.
            Seeing they have already admitted & apologised for unauthorised deduction perhaps you should start pursuing them for all your additional costs

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Former employer took wages to pay for alleged "damage" to company car. Appealing

              Originally posted by HJ3227 View Post
              Firstly, the company are a massive multi-national corporation and there is no way they can be in financial difficulty.
              If this sort of behaviour is not standard (and I'm sure that you would know if it was), either the firm is in trouble, or the manager has a target to meet.

              Few, if any, large firms could pay their debts if pressed to do so.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Former employer took wages to pay for alleged "damage" to company car. Appealing

                Small claims requesting the withheld money and expenses caused by withholding?

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Former employer took wages to pay for alleged "damage" to company car. Appealing

                  I know of two other cases. My former colleague who didnt secure other employment and was made reundant. They are after over £1500 as she misplaced her spare key. She is however on the dole and cannot pay, she told me they are getting £1 pcm by DD. Sounds iffy to me. The second person I work with now, they went after her in the same way as me, but as she had only been with the company fpr five months they dropped the case against her. I think its a scam and they rely on people not persuing complaints and appeals as I have.

                  The accusing of financial difficulty I have heard about before.....doesnt it mean they have to get the financial auditors in? I will be taking my claim further....how far depends on how they decide to deal with me on the 23rd. What legally can I claim against them for.....i.e what is the wording?

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Former employer took wages to pay for alleged "damage" to company car. Appealing

                    You should be able to claim for ALL the costs you have incurred because of their behaviour, and may be able to claim for the damage to your financial standing (could Durkin apply here?). As well as all the money they have withheld.

                    Ask them what authority they have to withhold the money.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Former employer took wages to pay for alleged "damage" to company car. Appealing

                      If you are sure of your position I concur with Ostell.
                      Go to their appeal hearing, decline their offers for you to contribute to their treasure chest, and invite them to sue.
                      If they ever do proceed to court, defend and counterclaim.
                      Costs will be limited as it will be allocated to small claims track.
                      If they don't proceed to court, you issue a claim.

                      Comment

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