By Nick Hartman
When a customer went looking to purchase a motor vehicle at a dealership based on the Sunshine Coast in June last year, she sought to arrange finance for the total value of her purchase of approximately $23,335.00.
After the car salesperson took the relevant information from her, she signed a privacy consent form for Nissan Finance. She handed over her payslips, a Medicare card and her licence for identification purposes.
At some point, Nissan Finance responded to her application for finance by placing conditions on the application. Those conditions related to her capacity to service the loan.
After further complications with the finance assessment the customer stated the whole process was “very rushed.” She claimed she did not sign any more documents with the sales person, and that he did not tell her that her original application had been declined or that a new finance application was made on her behalf.
She later made a complaint with the car dealership about her experience with their car sales person, accusing him of forging her signature.
Despite denying the accusations, the sales person was told by his employer that he was suspended from his employment on full pay, pending an investigation into the matter. He was later terminated and handed a letter of termination following their investigation.
In hearing the customer’s evidence supplied in the Fair Work Commission hearings, Commissioner Paula Spencer pointed out that the customer was “not an entirely credible witness”, having admitted to providing false information on her original finance application.
However, Commissioner Spencer noted, the customer “consistently” denied having signed the application in question.
Ultimately, the Commissioner was satisfied that the misconduct occurred, that the customer did not sign documents for alternate finance and therefore decided the car dealership and its directors had a valid reason for the sales person’s dismissal.
“I make this finding because of [the customer’s] consistent denials as to having signed the documents, to even having attended [the car dealership] premises on these dates…[and], from my own viewing of the signatures on those documents.”
“[The customer’s] signature appears in various places throughout the material and the signatures on these documents are sufficiently different to other, verified, signatures that even an untrained eye can discern that they are different.”
Commissioner Spencer concluded the employer’s dismissal procedure “while not perfect, was sufficient, and that in any event, the valid reason that I have found was of sufficient gravity to outweigh any minor procedural difficulties. Weighing matters up overall, the dismissal was not harsh, unjust or unreasonable.”