Be Aware - November 2016
“We have a customer who had their vehicle serviced with us and signed a satisfaction note upon collection. Two days later the customer then called to say there was damage on the vehicle to the tune of £600. Where do we stand?”
On the face of it this seems a simple question. Where the customer has signed a statement that they have inspected the vehicle and are satisfied there is no damage then this is defensible and any liability can be denied. That said, it will depend on the access the customer had to the vehicle before signing the statement. How can you protect yourself against such claims and reduce the risk to your business?
1. . This is the first step to prevent such claims, but it is not without its risks. If you choose to carry out such an inspection you need to be sure that you are actually accurately noting damage and that the information is kept for a sufficient period of time, if you don’t then this actually makes a claim more likely to succeed. It is not uncommon for a rushed technician to miss details. If this report does not identify any damage as present, then any damage on collection will be easier to claim. Consider whether digital photos can be taken. These are quick and give a very good overall impression of a vehicle.
2. . An inspection on collection will ensure that any satisfaction note is more difficult to challenge, particularly if the customer is given the time needed to review your work. Consider accompanying the client so that you can describe your work and ensure that any issues are raised in your presence. This can help nip any problems in the bud. The more time given the more difficult it will be for a customer to change their mind. Again consider photos of the vehicle after the work is completed.
3. . You lose a significant portion of the benefit if you have no evidence that the customer was satisfied. How long this is required will depend on the work.
Dismissing an Employee Due to Age
“I have an ageing technician (Jeff) who has started to make quite a few mistakes. He seems to be forgetting things and is getting a bit long in the tooth so I wondered whether I should just suggest it might be time for him to retire? I wouldn’t mind offering him a small sum of money to go so I can get someone younger and quicker on the job. He has been a good employee but I think enough is enough?”
1st October it will be 10 years since Age Discrimination Legislation was introduced. Many employers think they can still dismiss fairly by reason of retirement and that was because between 2006 - 2010 retirement was a potentially fair reason provided the employer followed certain specified rules and procedures.
The law these days however is very different and it would be age discrimination to dismiss him simply because he is getting too old for the job, or to imply or accuse him of the same. In the above situation, Jeff has to be treated like any other employee with capability problems. If he is not performing, then clearly that can be a matter for disciplinary/capability procedures which is likely to involve investigation and medical evidence. If it transpires after investigation and a reasonable period of procedure including potentially warnings and any adjustments that Jeff really isn’t capable of performing the job any more, then the employer, provided he’s laid a solid paper trail to that effect, may be able to fairly dismiss Jeff on those grounds.
This advice is general in nature and it will need to be tailored to any one particular situation. As an RMI member you have access to the RMI legal advice line, as well as a number of industry experts for your assistance. Should you find yourself in the situation above, contact us at any stage for advice and assistance as appropriate.