Hawke’s Bay roofing salesman sacked after claiming commission on unconfirmed sales, taking fuel

Hawke’s Bay roofing salesman sacked after claiming commission on unconfirmed sales, taking fuel

A roofing salesman has been fired after demanding commission on unconfirmed sales. Photo / NZME

A roofing salesman who was fired after demanding commission on sales before they were even confirmed has failed to claim he was improperly shown the door.

This comes after the worker was previously warned for fueling his own vehicle with fuel from jerrycans he had purchased with the company card.

Leon Thompson claimed his employer, Edwards & Hardy Roofing Hawke’s Bay, had wrongly fired him, but the Employment Relations Authority (ERA) ruled that the dismissal was justified.

According to the decision released today, Thompson was employed by the company in 2019. His annual base salary was $40,000, plus commission payments based on monthly sales. These payments were staggered, meaning the more Thompson sold, the more he earned.


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In October 2020, Thompson received a final written warning after management discovered excessive use of a company fuel card.

The decision said the seller admitted he filled jerry cans “for emergencies” and when he felt the fuel in the jerry cans was getting old, he used them to fill up his own car.

Later, in December, as the company prepared to close in the summer. Thompson told store manager Graeme Wedlake that he made numerous sales in December.

Thompson was reminded that sales needed to be confirmed, not just bids that he had previously been warned about making as sales.


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Three days later, Wedlake found that Thompson had achieved sales “well above what would be expected even for a top performer.”

Wedlake became concerned after discovering that many sellers had notes to contact the buyer after the summer break. This was unusual as the sales staff rarely contacted the customer after the sale.

Thompson’s commission for the large number of sales was paid before the closure, but shortly thereafter Wedlake contacted the buyers to see if they had actually agreed to signing.

The exact number of sales made and canceled cannot be given due to a business non-disclosure order, but percentages are possible.

Under consumer law, customers have five business days to change their mind about a door-to-door purchase.

On average, about 15 percent of Thompson’s sales were subsequently canceled every five weeks.

In the three weeks before the summer shutdown, 34 percent of its alleged sales were cancelled. Some customers said they never signed up for what Thompson allegedly sold them.

He was invited to a meeting with Wedlake in early January after the manager also discovered there were unauthorized discounts on some sales. A $450 sale has been reduced to just $40.

Wedlake said Thompson admitted in that meeting that he undervalued Jobs, but in the agency hearing Thompson denied it.

Days later, Wedlake found even more questionable contracts and Thompson was suspended pending an investigation and another meeting.


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At that subsequent meeting, Wedlake told Thompson that he believed there was a consistent pattern of cancellations and underpricing and suspected that Thompson acted fraudulently to increase his commission.

Thompson said some are true cancellations, others are sales with the proviso to “go back to confirm the sale.” He said he purposely worked hard in December and the numbers reflected his work rather than dishonesty.

Given the previous warning about the fuel withdrawal, the company concluded that it had lost faith in Thompson and fired him. A month later, Thompson brought his case before the ERA.

Thompson told the ERA that, based on the balance of probabilities, the company could not conclude that the cancellations were due to dishonesty, as cancellations are normal.

He admitted he made some mistakes and was “an aggressive seller,” but said sales sometimes plummet.

“A general pattern of orders that were not firm sales emerged, with no real explanation for the underpricing of orders. However, Mr. Thompson knew that discounts required approval,” stated Sarah Kennedy, board member.


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She thought it reasonable for the company to conclude that Thompson was motivated to increase his sales in order to earn more commissions.

Thompson’s application was denied.