Questions of Cash: August 2014

Q. I started work for Fujitsu in March this year as a trainee installation technician, installing Virgin broadband, TV and phone lines, for which Fujitsu has the contract. I was told there would be two parts to the installation – outside work to put underground cable into supply boxes and secondly running the cable into a customer’s property and fixing the boxes to the wall. One person does the outside work and a second person does the inside work.  I was supposed to be trained to do the outside job and after assessment would be teamed up with a qualified technician.  Eventually I would be moved to doing the inside job and a new trainee would do the outside job.  After three months I would be qualified and moved onto template pay, which is a price per job and good money.  We were put on £60 a day for training, for a 45 hour week. The first two weeks involved watching a qualified team at work.  Then I was sent on a week’s training, but the trainer apologised as he did not have much equipment and the course was cut short.  I was then sent out as the second man to a qualified technician and so was earning the company money.  We were also sent out with trainees and very little equipment to pull cables underground.  This was work, not training.  In the second month, I was again sent on a training course with no equipment.  We watched slide shows instead of doing practical training.  The trainees were then paid for the first time and everyone’s wages were wrong.  I received £58 for the month and most of the qualified guys had not been paid for jobs they had done.  The technicians also then told me that they could not do both a quality job and earn a decent wage.  I did a few more weeks of working with another trainee, mostly pulling cables underground.  Then I was sent out with a trainee and told to do the inside job, for which I had never been trained and without the right equipment.  In July I was told I would be put onto a price per job, but without proper training we could only do three or four jobs done a day, so we would not then even be getting the day rate of £60.  My manager agreed that we could stay on the trainee rate for another month, but I said that if I was sent out with a qualified technician – as was supposed to happen – I would be fast enough to earn proper money.  I was told this was not going to happen, so I decided to resign.  My contract stated that if I left in the first six months I would be liable to have £1,000 deducted from my wages to cover the cost of training, which was docked when I left.  But I dispute this charge as I did not have the agreed training.  I am now in hardship, will miss a month’s mortgage payments, will be in arrears with council tax and insurance and incur bank charges.  I spoke to ACAS which will try to get me a free 30 minutes advice session with an employment solicitor to determine if Fujitsu is legally allowed to do this, but I wondered if you could help me.  DS, Manchester.

A. We contacted Fujitsu, which has now accepted your argument. A spokesman for Fujitsu says: “We have been in contact with [the reader] and in his case we have confirmed that he did not receive the normal six week training as [we] were trialling, due to unprecedented customer demand, a one week training programme, which gave the trainees the competency to undertake one specific skill set, rather than the full technical installation programme. This was not picked up as part of [the reader’s] leaving checks and the full deduction was processed. We have apologised to [the reader] and advised him that the full amount will be refunded to him. We have also introduced increased checks to ensure that this doesn’t happen again.”

Q. I bought duty free items on a flight coming back on holiday. The flight attendant had problems with the credit card machine and came back several times as our card was ‘declined’, although we had used it a couple of hours before at the airport. It turned out that the machine was faulty and other customer cards were refused as well. I was assured that this was not a problem and I tried in total three cards until our payment went through. However, once back, I found that the amount was taken twice from one of my accounts and one time from another account of mine. I informed the company which refunded one of the payments to the account they had charged twice. However, they never made a refund of the amount taken from the other account, even though I sent the bank statement a couple of times. The final letter states they have “no trace of a transaction” and I should take up the issue with my bank. The amount, £92, is not large, but I don’t see why the double charge should go unchallenged. MS, by email.

A. Given the difficulties you had with the airline, we went straight to your card issuer requesting it issue a chargeback to the airline. Your card issuer, Smile, has made the chargeback and the airline has written to you to apologise. A spokesman for Smile says: “We were sorry to hear about the issues [the reader] had with this transaction which appears to be due to the merchant’s faulty card machine.  We always recommend that customers try to resolve disputes with the merchant, however if this fails we have a process that can help them in these situations.  Now she’s provided us with information which appears to show [the airline’s] duplicated transaction, we have charged the transaction back to the company and refunded the amount to her Smile account.”

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