Part of the Franklin James Show business’s mission is to support and advise artists, entertainers, promotional staff, hostessing staff, exhibition staff and anyone involved in the showbiz and hospitality industries.

We especially support the younger individuals and those just starting out on a self-employed basis.

CASE STUDYBy Sharon Stevens

In January 2017, we were asked by a young hostess (who wants to stay anonymous at time of writing. So, for the purpose of the case study we will call her Michelle) to try and collect a debt from a well-known Promotions Agency based in (London).

This agency/company had hired and placed Michelle to work as a hostess in a restaurant at the Ideal Home Show March 2016 at a fee of £10 per hour. She worked the Thursday, Friday and Sunday for 10 hours per day, my adding up gives a total owed as £300.00!

This is how the claim unfolded.

When the work was completed Michelle was supposed to complete an invoice template provided by the promotions agency providing the hours worked as stated on her time-sheet and then to upload it through the company website portal. Michelle was unable to upload the invoice template…. as explained later.

Michelle remained unpaid and didn’t know what she could do to try and obtain the monies due to her for the work carried out on behalf of the promotions agency.

In January 2017, she came across some group messages pertaining to the same company which had provided her with the work, stating that other individuals had also not been paid. A Franklin James employee saw the messages and let the people know we could help.

Michelle contacted us and we were happy to help on a “no win, no fee” basis. We sent a Notice Before Proceedings Letter out to the Agency in London that day and requested an immediate payment, giving 7 days-notice of court proceedings if payment is not made in full.

Well you can guess what happened –  nothing! Well except some horrid emails from the Director of promotions agency to me stating the procedure wasn’t followed, no invoice received, Michelle hadn’t worked the Saturday so she didn’t let her work the Sunday as claimed, Michelle didn’t work 10 hours on the Friday, etc. etc. etc.

I relayed the reply to Michelle that had been sent by the promotions agency and it was agreed to send a final email before court action, along with an invoice attached from Michelle to the company requesting payment of the £300.00.

Nothing followed!

Only an explanation that the promotions agency procedure hadn’t been followed.

Court it was then!

We submitted the claim on the 9th January 2017. The promotions agency then filed a defence dated 8th February 2017. Michelle of course did not accept the defence filed which stated in the details box; “Can’t pay claimant as we have no invoice and no bank details.” It also said, “she is supposed to supply an invoice, we provide the template for them, they fill it out, send with the time sheet signed by a manager (which she didn’t do) post recorded delivery, then we process, pay charge £20 admin fee and £1 bank charge.”  The agency also stated that Michelle had overcharged by £241.00!

A Directions Questionnaire then arrived asking Michelle for information predominantly at which court she would like the hearing to be heard? She was also asked if she would consider mediation through a court mediator?

Mediation took place on the 23rd May at 2.30 p.m. with myself, Peter the mediator and the director of the promotions agency took part in.

I asked Michelle to prepare a statement so that I could glean the relevant information to pass over to the mediator.

Summary

Michelle was hired as a hostess by promotions agency to work for the “well known” Restaurant in London on 17th, 18th and 20th March 2016 between the hours of 8.15a.m. to 6. 15p.m at £100 per day = Total £300 Michelle being paid £10/hour.

She initially supplied the incorrect dates of the 16th, 17th and 19th March 2016 and apologises for the mistake. Since starting the claim she has been able to speak to a colleague working with her at the time and go through messages between her and the director of the promotions agency to ascertain the correct dates. She has also found the timetable giving her work times and dates communicated through WhatsApp/text by the director. These times and dates confirm the dates above although different times to what Michelle states she worked. Michelle was also scheduled to work the 19th March, however Michelle hurt her ankle on the way home from work on the 18th March and ending up in hospital, she was told she had a sprain and required bandaging. “The Director” was aware of this through WhatsApp/text communications and allowed her to work the following day which was Sunday 20th March 2016.

Michelle was scheduled to work all the following week, but was then told by text message from “the Director” she wasn’t needed as “the show was quieter than expected”. Michelle was unable to obtain the time sheet proof required of the hours worked due to them being held by the manager at the restaurant, as she didn’t return to the restaurant. Sunday being her final day. She was also later told there had been negative feedback and wouldn’t be required to work.

She then had trouble logging into the Promotions agency website and downloading the template invoice. This was relayed to the “Director” at the time. Instead of downloading the template invoice a virus was downloaded and her laptop required a fix to be performed. The Director was made aware of this at the time and no offer of help was provided or an alternative method of submitting an invoice.

Michelle places some of the blame on herself for not trying to sort the issues out but felt embarrassed and unsure of what she could do, she felt that there wasn’t any way of communicating the issue, this is partly due to her inexperience and an unfriendly support service by promotions agency. All she asks is that she is paid for the hours worked. She has sent her own invoice to promotions agency on the 10th January 2017 hoping this would initiate payment, she registered self-employed on the same day. She has return train fare tickets to London for the Thursday, Friday and Sunday.

Mediation failed and personally I felt that the mediator lent towards promotions agency being the ones with the stronger argument, maybe so! He also pointed out that it was such a small amount of money “was it worth going to court”!!!!

Well damn right it was! A young lady worked three 10-hour shifts and as far as I am concerned was mistreated. A director of a company did not support, advise or show any responsibility for her staff member. There has been a blatant breach of contact shown and a disregard and lack of integrity shown for the worker (Michelle) hired through this company. Shame on them!

Next Court

Southend on Sea County Court to be precise. 11th July 2017 2.0 p.m. on the dot.

Michelle was supported by her father and myself. We had prepared well and got together what evidence we could to support the claim. Michelle’s father went in to chambers as a McKenzie friend whilst I waited outside.

ONE POINT I forgot to mention is that the promotions agency in question didn’t turn up!

The case however was still heard by the judge who obviously found in Michelle’s favour due to the defendant’s absence, however, the ultimate test was how much would Michelle receive.

Great news the full £300, all court fees and interest total ordered by the promotions agency to pay is £460.00.

We are absolutely over the moon for Michelle she deserved every single penny.

We helped win her case, and incase you were wondering what our fee for this was???? Our fee was only £34.95 plus VAT and we won’t ask for payment until Michelle gets paid from promotions agency, they have 21 days or we will request judgement and then a warrant and then the bailiffs will be coming!

It is very rare that a case like this goes all this way to court, usually most are settled at mediation.

The point I want to get across is that no matter what amount you are owed, if you have a case then pursue it, otherwise we can’t clean the industries up that provide a worker to a hirer for a fee/commission.

We want agencies to show legitimacy, a duty of care, responsibility and above all support to the workers they place with a hirer.

If you need advice, help, support or a late payment collecting, call me on 01494 682801 or email me sharon@fj-creditmanagement.co.uk

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