Each week former trading standards officer Richard Thomson answers your questions.
Q Through no fault of my own, a technical problem with the plane resulted in my getting back home 24 hours late from my Easter break. When I returned to work my boss called me into the office and threatened to dock two days’ pay or suggested I take a couple days from my leave entitlement. Is this fair and can he do this?
A I’m not sure I can answer both of your questions in the absence of sight of your contract of employment.
Assuming you have a fairly standard contract that spells out your hours of work and holiday entitlement, the answer to your question is an unequivocal yes.
You will be bound to the terms and conditions set out in your contract of employment. If you are absent with no claim to certifiable sickness, the firm is deprived of your labour and one or other of your colleagues will have to make up for your absence.
Whether the boss’s decision is fair depends on your point of view.
It may seem a bit harsh as clearly the delay in you reporting back to work on time was not your fault.
But your boss and work colleagues who had to make up for your absence might not see it in the same way.
Q I am a regular reader of your column. I was wondering if you would be able to look into a problem I have with defective fish tank lights as it is causing some irritation. I do not believe it is being taken seriously at all and the cost of replacing the whole light unit is in excess of £100. I would really appreciate any help you could give me.
A You had a problem with the premature failure of the lamp holders for your Regency 100 fish tank lighting unit and were unable to obtain the parts from the local dealer.
The unit was only approximately two years old and, considering the cost of the fish tank, should have lasted much longer. I agreed with you.
You then approached the manufacturer, but became frustrated when it took quite some time to respond to your enquiry.
When I contacted the manufacturer on your behalf, they repeated an offer they previously made to repair the light unit free of charge to save you the cost of a replacement.
The offer included a refund of the postage, which appeared to be generous enough in all the circumstances.
I believe the real problem was the delay in getting a response from the manufacturer.
That has now been resolved, and you are happy to accept their offer.
Q I bought a second class rail ticket, but as all the compartments were overcrowded I found a seat in first class. A ticket inspector insisted I paid a penalty fare, but I’ve since been told to complain to the train company because this was not right. Can you advise please?
A You’d be right to complain.
You should have been asked to pay the difference between first and second class travel.
Before you complain though, be sure to check whether the penalty amounts to more than paying the difference otherwise you might end up shooting yourself in the foot.
Richard Thomson is a former trading standards officer with many years experience. If you have a question, e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org and wherever possible he will try to provide practical assistance. Unfortunately he cannot guarantee to respond to every letter or e-mail. Richard Thomson welcomes letters from readers on consumer issues. Replies are intended to give general help or advice, not a complete statement of law.