A good outcome for one retailer while another is slapped with a £90k fine

Ft - Jac Roper - Service Centre

Steve Smyth, who is the manager of Harwood Bros Motors (Wootton) Limited on the Isle of Wight, got in touch for “just a bit of advice please”.

He wrote: “We have used Epay for years for our phone top-ups but the demand for phone top-ups has declined over the years. I contacted Epay about having the unit taken out and was advised that I had to give six months in writing. We are paying £18 a month in charges and after about three months they have accepted the notice (so I have six months from this month).

“I contacted them, as I said, about three months ago but for all sorts of reasons they would not accept the notice.”

He was told that that the email address was not an official address.

“I had sent that we wish to give six months’ notice (but this was not accepted as I had not worded it that ‘I accept I have to give six months’ notice’). I then had a phone call from them that I could hardly understand as I think it was from India, saying that I need to email to confirm that I accept a six months’ notice and that the unit would be ready for collection on a set date in six months’ time.”

So he did this and he finally got an email confirming the notice had begun “but the unit has been disconnected so I am paying the £18 a month but unable to sell anything through it”.

Harwood’s has now got a PayPoint unit to sell what was available from Epay and more. “But I feel that by them turning off the unit this must mean they are breaking the agreement so why should I carry on paying for a unit I cannot use?”

The other strange thing about the case was that Epay would not accept the original email attempting to cancel the contract from the owner, Matt Harwood, but did decide to accept the one from the manager, Steve.

As he says: “I manage the business, but I could be anyone.”

There was a longish string of emails repeating variations on a theme: “Please be informed that the notice period has started from today 15th November 2022 till 15th May 2023.

“Also note that all terms and conditions of our agreement remain in force during the notice period including the minimum monthly sales requirement.”

The emails also repeated their petty, pedantic requirement: “As per our previous telephonic conversation, we do require a written formal email in which you clearly stated the reason of cancellation and must mention that you are willing to serve six months’ notice period with Epay.”

I went around the houses a bit looking for a useful contact at Epay, eventually having to settle on customer services.

I wrote to them pointing out that as they did not accept the first request to terminate leaving them with a useless machine (deactivated) for an extra three months, meaning that they will have given nine months notice in all!

Customer services did forward the request for comment to someone who could comply but who chose not to. She said “ unfortunately we cannot discuss a customer’s account with a 3rd party company due to GDPR. We have been in touch directly with the customer and would ask you to reach out to them for an update”.

So I called Steve who said: “I got a phone call yesterday to say the unit needed to be ready for collection today between 8am and 11am – this was the first I had heard back from them.”

And he added: “Yesterday evening I got an email from them to say that, as a gesture of goodwill, they have cancelled our contract and no more payments will be taken.”


Did you hear the one about…

… a woman who got £90K for a slap on the bottom?

She was awarded a £90,000 pay-out after a manager slapped her backside with a ruler at a workplace criticised for its “toxic laddish culture”.

The woman settled her case alleging sexual harassment at work after being supported by the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland.

In a statement issued by the commission, they said that to protect the woman’s identity, neither she or her employer could be named.

Outlining the substance of the woman’s complaint, the statement added: “In 2021, whilst the woman was at a meeting in her workplace, she was told to stand up and turn round, and then slapped on the bottom with a ruler by one male manager in front of another male manager. The male manager who slapped her laughed and said, ‘I’m sorry, I had to’.

The woman looked at the other male manager and asked, ‘Is that allowed?’. Both the men treated it as a joke, and they also told other employees who then arrived at the meeting what had happened.

When she raised the grievance with her employer, she said they did not acknowledge it for 10 days and then took five weeks to uphold it.

Some people think petrol stations are known as places for laddish behaviour. I’m only saying…

You can email your queries, news and views to Jac@roper-biz.co.uk or call 0208 8502 9775