It was June of 2007 when the auto parts company I worked for was officially taken over by the corporate chain Carquest Auto Parts. I was the Store Manager of the previous company and Carquest was nice enough to transfer my title and seniority over to their records. They had a few meetings with me and were promising me the world, i.e: your going to get a retention bonus, you can buy into the ownership of the company and make tons of money, we're going to send you around the country for proper training.
Well the retention bonus was supposed to be $2000, half paid to me up front and the other $1000 paid to me Jan. 1st 2008 'if' I was still employed then. Also as a store manager you were given the responsibility of having a company purchase card, which was supposed to be used to 'pay bills' as I was informed. After asking further explanation I was told to purchase outside inventory to re-sell, pay statements to vendors, buy promotional items to hand out to customers, buy food for employees and my top customers. I had to sign an agreement which the H/R rep jokingly said 'it pretty much says you won't buy an XBOX for yourself or you'll get fired.' They also did not provide me with a copy of that agreement conveniently.
They had agreed to keep my pay the same and another privileged was that I was allowed to use a company vehicle to commute with from home to work which was nice as I was traveling over 100 miles a day. Also as a store manager you were responsible for everything, you had to have your own filing system and keep records of everything. This was very new to me as I was used to the main location store of the previous company did all this. They kept saying I was going to be trained (it never happened).
Things were ok for about a month and then the 'changes' starting taking place. They started to change over all of our parts lines (you know the ones my customers were used to buying for the last 40 years) and the prices were steadily going up which was horrible. Everything was being put in a Carquest box so the customer never knew what brand he was buying and when they questioned it Carquest representative's would reply 'It's made by brand-x for Carquest, so your getting a quality brand'' But of course it had made in china all over the parts, go figure. Everytime my customers received a statement it would just have a dollar amount on it with no invoice breakdown, totally opposite from what they were used to and any problems had to be addressed with the headquarters in North Carolina.(I'd always get accountings voicemail with usually no call back)
If my customers couldn't pay their bill from lack of explanation and understanding then their account would be shut off until it was paid. I was steadily losing business day to day and taking a lot of flack from customers who had liked me and trusted me for the last 10 years I worked there. I was using the purchase card like I was told to, paying bills, buying promotional items for customers, and buying lunches for employees and customers. They also wanted us to wear specific uniforms which is fine but they wanted us to buy our own pants or shorts because they said Carquest on them. I and my fellow employees refused that because if they enforce uniforms in California then they have to provide them.
There was a few times I needed to go out to meetings and see customers and at the time we were short a delivery vehicle, so I took my personal vehicle and on three occasions I used the purchase card to fill my gas tank. When the delivery truck was available again I used that for my commute's and there were several occasions I used the purchase card to get gas for it as well, there were separate fuel cards designated for each truck but most of the time it was left at the store and I didn't see it as a big deal to use my purchase card, I was encouraged to use it. When it came to promotional items I had gotten some pens, hats, coffee cups, sweatshirts, and buttons to hand out to our better customers.
One day there was a meeting held with me and I was propositioned if I'd like to transfer to a location closer to home but the kicker was that I would be demoted in position and several dollars an hour and I would be at the mercy of that store manager for how many hours I would be scheduled. I flat out refused the transfer due to the severe pay cut, I said 'It sounds nice but the pay cut would render me unable to even pay my mortgage.' I feel like once I did that I became a target.
Then came what would be my final day on December 21, 2007. About 10 in the morning my immediate boss, Kevin Lair, came by and stated he needed to meet with me in the back of the store. I followed him and he sat me down in front of a computer where he proceeded to go over with me my purchase card statements. He began reading off the names of some of the places I had purchased food, gas, and the dollar amount of the promotional items I bought. He was quite upset and was talking to me like I was a child. He asked me to explain the purchases to him and I obliged. I admitted I may have went overboard on the food and snacks for employees/customers as I was doing that 1-2 times a week and that the promotional items were given out to customers. Then he grilled me on the gas purchases, I told him I mainly was putting gas in the company truck but there were a couple of occasions I refueled my tank when I had to use my vehicle for company use. To which he replied 'that looks like your stealing.' I said back to him that wasn't my intent I have receipts for everything in my files and I apologized. He stormed out and made a phone call and it appeared he had left.
About 15 minutes later he came back and informed me I had to relinquish my keys and purchase card to him and had to leave the premises immediately. I was stunned, I told him that I was not properly trained on their rules and regulations and in fact all the other employees felt the same too. He said I was being suspended indefinitely pending an investigation from loss prevention. I had some Christmas presents hidden in the safe and when I asked if I could retrieve them he said 'I'll have to watch you to make sure you don't steal anything else.' I was appalled and hurriedly got my presents and all my belongings and left.
About a week later Kevin called me and said I had to write a signed statement on what happened that this would be my chance to explain. I said to him that I already explained to you and I am not going to give you a signed statement. Finally on Jan 7th 2008 I called Kevin and flat out asked when am I going to be coming back to work to which he replied 'your not, you were officially terminated as of the first.' Was nice of him to not call and inform me of that almost a week ago when that was determined. I was also threatened to pay back all of the gas purchases or else I would face prosecution.
I asked him why this is happening and was told I was fired for theft because of the gas but the food and promotional items were classified as stupidity on my part. I called the district manager Rudy on this and he told me Kevin sat down with me a few times about my purchases and supposedly I was warned but I explained that it was only the one time he sat down with me the day I was suspended. He pretty much called me a liar and kept focusing on me being a thief as well. I didn't get that 2nd half retention bonus due to me being terminated on the 1st supposedly.
Anyway I really think they need to really learn how to focus more on training when it comes to policies and be more fair in treatment. I would never work for them again or purchase parts from them. It seemed like the whole transition to their company went very messy. In my opinion they really need to focus more on communication with managers and employees, they preach communication but almost all the time you would get voicemail with no response back.