Look after your assets

Here’s a cliché question for you Mr Forecourt Boss: what’s your best asset? I’m sure you have many but full marks if you said ’staff’ unless, of course, you spend every working hour right there on the till.

Staff represent you. They are your stand-in. Okay, enough hectoring as I am sure most of you are amazing bosses and appreciate your assets. I also know that staff can come in good, bad and ugly forms and that hiring people can be a bit of a lottery.

But, in the past six years I have twice been contacted by Hasmukh Sodha, who works at the Murco Flyover service station in Leicester. He started working for what is now the Murco brand, back in 2001 when it was Jet Conoco. This was acquired by FuelForce and then Murco.

He was then informed that he was no longer employed by Murco since contract managers were put in place but it was stressed that his statutory rights as an employee would remain (it could not have been stated legally otherwise because the transfer of undertakings does protect employees in such situations).

When he first contacted me in 2007 (seven Murco contract managers ago but at the same site) he wasn’t getting payslips and the tax man was after him although he had paid taxes all his life. In other words, the contract manager had put him on the black market. I complained to Murco on his behalf, they had a word with the manager and it was eventually sorted.

Last month Hasmukh was back in touch. In December, while taking company money to the Post Office to bank it, he was attacked. He defended himself and the baddies didn’t get the money but his hip was broken and he is on crutches.

When he rang he said he was only getting sick pay: £450 a month rather than the £940 he had been earning. He thought he should be getting the full amount because he was at work when the incident happened and his employer must have employee liability insurance.

Once again I got in touch with Murco as they obviously would swing a far better whip than I could with a contract manager. It worked.

Hasmukh has since received a cheque making up the difference.

I should also point out here that Hasmukh is the deputy premises supervisor for the site, holding the premises licence for the sale of alcohol for it since 2011 and he is paid the minimum wage.

Really not good enough.

When offering extras costs you extra

Quite a few retailers don’t see much benefit in offering those extra services through terminals which yield profits you need a microscope to see. Certainly this has been Chris Toole’s experience at his James Street Service Station in Carlisle.

He’s attempting to challenge the low-volume charge imposed by Payzone under the terms and conditions of his original contract which dates back to March 2006.

He writes: "If I’m correct on the matter, my initial contract with them could (only) either be terminated by six months’ notice in writing, or other terms ’pursuant herein’ ie contained within the original contract.

"They could also amend any or all terms but with 28 days written notice. No notice period was ever given, no reference was ever made to ’other terms’ and no amendment was ever made. However, a newer and more onerous set of terms was subsequently implemented with no reference (that I can find) to the existing contract."

The only paperwork he has since managed to extract from Payzone was a redacted copy of someone else’s notification (a Mr M Dawood).

I communicated to Chris that others have disputed changes to their contract successfully and he has already started pushing Payzone for a refund of the low-volume charge which has amounted to over £480. He has also taken the decision to remove the terminal.

Although I have asked Payzone for a response, none was forthcoming by my deadline. Chris hasn’t heard a dickie bird either. He is now considering the small claims court, which will certainly get the company’s attention.

A winter’s tale

There is nothing further yet to report on the Steve Jones case (which opened a huge can of worms when Norfolk policewoman Kelly Jones sought damages after she tripped on the forecourt of his Nuns’ Bridges Filling Station while investigating a potential burglary).

However, in Steve’s various discussions with official and semi-officialdom, an interesting piece of ’news’ has emerged that you all might like to tuck away.

Did you know you are supposed to have a ’winter policy’?

Steve decided to broach that hoary old damned-if-you-do/damned-if-you-don’t question about clearing snow with a loss adjustor he happened to be talking to.

If it snows and you try to clear it and still someone slips, are you negligent? What if you leave the snow as is, so people can see they must tread carefully and still they slip? The loss adjustor said ’you can’t just do nothing’.

His advice: you need a ’winter policy’, a sheet of paper detailing necessary action. You get the staff to sign saying they will be extra careful as they make their way gingerly to the forecourt door. So they can’t sue you if they slip. If the snow cannot be adequately cleared, you should shut the forecourt until it is safe to use so that the public cannot sue.

(And then all those compensation lawyers will probably sue you because they can’t get to work.)

Good innit?

contact jac

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