We are still at the offices of Bookmart Publishing Services. In this lesson we see how to deal with the problems of credit control; how to conduct an employee assessment interview; and how to investigate and report an accident.


George Harvey  
Terry Cabe  
Frank Penny  
Mr Harris owns a bookshop in York.
Mr Martinu is General Manager at Martinu Books.
Andy Brumshaw is the warehouse foreman at Bookmart.
Alice Perkins is an office cleaner at Bookmart.

All of these characters are British.


Vocabulary Money transactions; records and record-keeping; employee assessment and relationships.
Skills Simple negotiating; asking for credit terms; making conditions; chasing payment; basic report writing.
Documents A statement; a formal letter; an Employee Assessment Record; an accident record book; an accident report form.

Collecting payments and settling accounts

7.1 Listen and read

George Harvey gets a phone call from Mr Harris, a bookshop owner. Listen to how they negotiate a change in their agreement.

HARRIS Good morning. Mr Harvey? My name is Harris, I have a bookshop in York.
GEORGE Oh, hello, Mr Harris, how are you? How can I help you?
HARRIS Well, I've been ordering books from you for eight or nine months now, pretty regularly. see the meaning I thought it was about time I applied to open an account with you. I pay all my other suppliers monthly, but you still send me a pro forma invoice on every order.
GEORGE Ah, yes. There are reasons for that. Our new customers are supposed to pay cash with order for a year - but we do have some discretion in this matter see the meaning, and I can well understand you'd prefer open account terms. That shouldn't be a problem. If you can let me have the names of a couple of referees, preferably firms you've had accounts with for at least twelve months...
HARRIS I can do that, of course, but I wonder if in this case you could do me a favour see the meaning and open the account straight away? I'm just making up a rather large order, and I don't...
GEORGE No, no see the meaning, I quite understand. Yes, I don't see why not. In that case could I ask you to write to your referees and let them know that I'll be writing to them, and would appreciate a quick response? I know it's only a formality see the meaning but it could hold things up a bit.

7.2 Reading for key words

What words in 7.1 show us the following?

1 George Harvey is following the company rules.
2 He can sometimes change the rules.
3 Mr Harris wants special treatment.
4 George Harvey needs the references straight away.
5 He thinks that there won't be any problems.

7.3 Writing practice: a request for open account terms

Imagine that Mr Harris decided to write to George Harvey instead of telephoning him. Write the letter for him. Include the points he made in 7.1, and the names and addresses of two referees. They are: James Merridew, Publishers, 97 Henrietta Street, London WC2; The Fireside Press, PO Box 7591, Milton Keynes MK45 7ER.


7.4 Document study: a statement

This is Mr Harris's first statement from Bookmart. Someone at the bookshop didn't know that they now had an account. How do we know this?


7.5 Writing figures: a monthly statement

You are preparing Mr Harris's June statement for Bookmart. Draw up the statement using the following information: on 12 June Harris sends Bookmart a cheque for £438.02; on 10 June a consignment of books is invoiced to Harris; the invoice number is 5629 and the value is £759.


7.6 Document study: a formal letter

George Harvey has to write a letter to another bookshop, Martinu Books. They have not paid anything since the end of March. Read through the letter. Notice that it is very formal.

Mr G F Martinu
General Manager
Martinu Books
York Y01 1DX

13 June 1991

Dear Mr Martinu

Our statements dated 31 March, 30 April and 31 May 1991

As we have received no reply to our letters of 4 May and 30 May, we are compelled see the meaning to draw your attention once more to your non-payment of the sums owed to us. The total amount outstanding is now £15,872.87.

We regret that we cannot continue to allow credit terms as long as this debt remains uncleared. Until further notice, therefore, goods will be supplied to you only on receipt of cash against a pro forma invoice.

I shall be obliged if you will contact me personally within the next seven days to discuss means by which the amount outstanding can be cleared. We are anxious to avoid any action which might jeopardise see the meaning the good business relationship we have enjoyed in the past. see the meaning

Yours sincerely

G A Harvey
Sales Manager

7.7 Speaking practice: chasing payment

George Harvey did not get a reply to his letter, so he now telephones Mr Martinu. Listen to their conversation right through, then listen again and speak the part of George.

GEORGE We don't appear to have had any payments from you for three months now.
MARTINU Ah, yes! I thought you might be ringing about that.
GEORGE Can you tell me what you propose to do about it?
MARTINU Well, to be perfectly frank with you see the meaning, we have had some cash-flow problems recently.
GEORGE I see. What's the position at the moment?
MARTINU Well, things are looking a lot better. Would you be willing to accept a sum of money on account?
GEORGE Well, we don't usually accept part payment.
MARTINU I could let you have three thousand pounds now, and the balance over three months.
GEORGE Three thousand. Yes, that would be just about acceptable.
MARTINU OK, I can get that off to you by the end of the week. see the meaning
GEORGE In the meantime, perhaps you won't mind paying cash with order until you've cleared your account?
MARTINU Yes, of course.

Updating personnel records

7.8 Listen and read

Terry Cabe, the Personnel Manager at Bookmart, is interviewing Frank Penny so that he can complete Frank's annual Employee Assessment Report. Listen to what they say. Notice how Frank doesn't seem to trust any of his managers.

TERRY Frank, come in. Sit down. Now, you've been with us very nearly two years, Frank, so this is your second annual assessment interview. I seem to remember there were one or two problems while you settled in. How've you been getting on this last year?
FRANK Oh - all right.
TERRY No problems?
TERRY People treating you all right, are they?
FRANK Look, I don't know what you're getting at here see the meaning, but if there've been complaints about my work then I'd like to know what they are and who's making them!

7.9 Listen and read

Terry continues the interview. Listen to what they say. Notice how he works hard to reassure Frank, so that Frank feels able to talk about his job.

TERRY Frank, believe me, I'm not trying to pick holes. see the meaning It's just I know that last year you were still living with your parents, they were giving you a hard time see the meaning, and there were some problems at work. Anyway, you've got a place of your own now, right? see the meaning When was it you moved?
FRANK Last Christmas.
TERRY How is it? Settled in OK, have you?
FRANK Yeah. Yeah, it's nice, it's really good.
TERRY Great. Great. And you don't have that terrible long journey to work any more.
FRANK Right. It's only ten minutes on the bus.
TERRY So, what do you reckon's the toughest part of your job here, Frank?
FRANK To be honest, Mr Cabe, basically, the job's all right. I just feel it's not leading anywhere - it's a dead end see the meaning - know what I mean?
TERRY Uh-huh. 'Unsatisfactory prospects of promotion. Position lacks adequate career structure' - I'm quoting from a memo I wrote for the MD last week. That's what these annual assessments are all about, Frank. Now let's remind ourselves, shall we, of what I put on your form a year ago.

7.10 Reading for key words

Terry Cabe asks Frank Penny three questions that make Frank angry.

1 What are they?
2 Why does Terry ask these questions?
3 Why does Frank misunderstand them?
4 At the start of the interview, Terry asked a question that made Frank angry. Later he asked a very similar question, and Frank gave a friendly, direct answer. What words does Terry use this time?
5 Terry 'translated' some of Frank's words into very formal language. What words are they, and what is Terry's translation?

7.11 Document study: an Employee Assessment Record

Read Frank Penny's Employee Assessment Record below. Then write two short sentences describing his career with Bookmart. Frank is being considered for promotion to Senior Clerk. Make a list of points 'For' and 'Against' his promotion.

Telephone manner the way he speaks on the telephone.
abrasive rude and unpleasant.
surly rude and bad-tempered.
a clash of personalities a situation where two people can’t work together because they have different ideas or because they don't like each other.


7.12 Find the word

Read the text below on Frank's work. Write the word from the box for each gap.

inadequate initiative manner potential promotion
qualifications qualities record structure unsatisfactory

Frank's Employee Assessment (a) shows how (b) Bookmart's career (c) is. Admittedly, Frank is not an ideal employee. He is not always punctual, and when he does get to work his behaviour is often (d) . His telephone (e) can sometimes be surly and he rarely does anything on his own (f) . His attitude to work will have to change if he wants (g) . But he isn't stupid; he has some useful (h) and some of his personal (i) could be valuable; Terry Cabe even considers that he has the (j) to handle more responsibility.


7.13 Reading for key words

1 The Employee Assessment Record suggests two reasons why Frank Penny was promoted from the General Office to Dispatch. What are they?
2 In the Employee Assessment Record, what words suggest that some of Frank Penny's problems probably were his own fault?
3 In the interview, what words does Terry use to try to make these troubles seem small and temporary?

Reporting an accident

7.14 Listen and read

The Bookmart warehouse is always busy. Andy Brumshaw is the warehouse foreman on duty on the afternoon of 19 June. Alice Perkins is an office cleaner. Arthur Bell works in the warehouse. Listen to what they say.

ANDY Hey! Arthur! Get those cartons into the loading bay. The van's waiting.
ALICE [Pushing a large industrial vacuum cleaner]
Hello, Mr Brumshaw. I've just vacuumed your office and the corridor.
ANDY Ah, thanks, Alice.
ALICE OK if I take a short cut through the warehouse? see the meaning
ANDY Mind how you go, Alice - and watch out for the fork-lifts. You know you're not supposed to go through here during working hours.
ALICE That's all right. I've been through here hundreds of times.
ANDY Alice!

7.15 Document study

The Bookmart warehouse keeps an accident record book. This is what was written on 19 June. Read it carefully. You will need to refer to it later.

negligible so small that it doesn't matter.

7.16 Document study

The next day, Bookmart's Safety Officer is investigating the warehouse accident. He must complete one of the company's standard accident report forms for the General Manager. Write down as many of the details as you can.

Date of report: (1) Prepared by: (2)
  for: (3)

Date of incident: (4) Time: (5)
Place: (6)    

Members of staff Involved:  
Name: (7) Position: (8)
(9) (10)
Members of public Involved:  
Name: (11) Address:
Injury caused to:  
A Staff: (12)  
B Public: (13)  
Witnesses (at least two if possible):
Name: (14) Section and position: Contact phone no: 491
(15) (16)  
Damage to: Estimated value:
1. Company equipment: (17) 1200.00
2. Staff property: (18)  
3. Third partles: (19)  
TOTAL 1200.00

7.17 Writing practice: the report’s findings

The Safety Officer also has to write a description of what happened. Write this for him, using the questions below as a guide. Remember not to include any irrelevant information, and don't, at this stage, give any opinions.

1 What did Mr Brumshaw order Mr Bell to do at about 3.45?
2 What did Mrs Perkins do at about the same time? Where was she coming from? Why was she going through the warehouse? Is this allowed? Is it often done?
3 Why did Mrs Perkins not hear the truck coming? What happened? What damage was done?


7.18 Document study

The Safety Officer's findings lead to the conclusion that Mr Bell is most to blame for the accident, but that Mr Brumshaw and Mrs Perkins are also partly to blame. The report finally makes recommendations.

Damage to: Estimated value:
1. Company equipment: (17) 1200.00
2. Staff property: (18)  
3. Third partles: (19)  
TOTAL 1200.00

reprimanded officially told that he has done something wrong.
Manning levels the number of people who work somewhere; manning includes both men and women.

7.19 Reading practice: separating fact from opinion

Here are eight statements that were made while the Safety Officer was collecting information. None of them was included in the report. Decide whether each statement is a fact or an opinion, and whether it is relevant or irrelevant. Tick two columns for each statement.

    Fact Opinion Relevant Irrelevant
1 'Arthur was worried about one of the pallets on the rack. see the meaning It came crashing down about twelve hours later.'
2 'The noise that vacuum cleaner makes, you could hear it a mile off.'
3 'Arthur's a menace in a fork-lift truck. He nearly killed me, about a year ago; I jumped out of his way just in time.'
4 see the meaning 'The gangways between the racks in the stockroom aren't as wide as the Health and Safety Regulations say they should be.'
5 'It was a miracle nobody was hurt.'
6 'It's the management's responsibility to see this sort of thing doesn't happen.'
7 'What's all the fuss about? see the meaning The insurance will pay for a new vacuum cleaner.'
8 'Do you know, those fork-lift trucks can do 50 kilometres an hour? They're terrifying!'