Just before Christmas, I was cold called by an optical employment agency. I explained that we were not really looking for professional staff at the time, but they told me they had a multi-talented and experienced optical assistant manager/trainer who was able to perform all aspects of dispensing. They told me he was exceptional and in addition to his dispensing role, would also be able to train my staff. They insisted he would be an asset for my company and pushed for me to give him a try.

His shortcomings were not apparent at the interview and largely on the strength of the job agency’s recommendation we took him on. He turned out to be a massive let down: He was unable to use a focimeter; had only a paltry dispensing knowledge; made numerous glazing and dispensing mistakes and could not work out a reading Rx given the distance Rx and add.

He also distressed patients by raising his voice excessively when talking to them. Far from being an asset to my business, I lost customer goodwill and a considerable amount of money through botched glazing jobs – not to mention a month’s salary.

His deleterious effect on the business was so great that I had to ask him to leave. I explained to the agency, that he was not as they had sold him to me, however, they are still pursuing me for a sum of nearly £3,000 for their services.
We only had him for a couple of weeks during which time we tried hard to train him and mould him into an acceptable form. After the Christmas period we explained his inadequacies and that we could not keep him on.

My argument is that if an agency approaches me, ‘sells me’ a staff member who is blatantly not as they promised to the point of misrepresentation, then I have been mis-sold and it is unreasonable for them to charge.

I offered them £400 which would more than cover their negligible costs. They declined this offer and we will be discussing this further in the county court.

Has anyone else had a similar experience, and what happened in their case? I think these agencies need to be brought into line.

Andrew Matheson