x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

On Your Side: Rules for online third-party credit-card payments

The National's consumer advocate offers her advice on booking third-party airline tickets, whether a contract supercedes employment law and the consequences of resigning versus being made redundant.

I recently tried to book a ticket with Emirates Airline for my 16-year-old niece to visit. Clearly, she does not have a credit card and I was happy to pay for her, but it seems that Emirates doesn't see it that way. It seems that the company has a policy that when booking with a credit card, said card must be in the name of one of the passengers. It does not even appear possible to book on behalf of a relative. What is particularly annoying is that because I was unable to book online, I had to go to one of the airline's offices to book and pay, which meant that I forfeited the 5 per cent online booking discount. Not only is it inconvenient, it is more costly. This must be a common situation, so is there an alternative? AW, Dubai

I put the query to the airline and a spokesperson said: "To safeguard against credit-card fraud and protect our customers, Emirates' internet selling policy stipulates that the credit-card holder must travel with the ticketed passengers on all sectors. These regulations are clearly outlined to our customers during the booking process and are also available in our conditions of carriage information, available on www.emirates.com." This comment didn't offer any solution, so I went back to the airline and it commented further: "Emirates endeavours to offer third-party payment by credit/debit card where possible, dependent on a number of factors. In cases where this is not possible, to safeguard against credit-card fraud and protect our customers, Emirates offers alternative methods of ticket payment for online bookings that do permit payments by a third party, such as bank transfer, Western Union and PayPal, among others. This does, however, depend on the departure and destination city of the ticket. Any restrictions on the use of credit cards are clearly communicated during the online booking process. Emirates reviews such payment policies regularly and makes adjustments where possible in order to widen the payment options to customers." It appears that booking from the UAE incurs such restrictions, although not with all airlines. However, if online booking is not available, it would be nice if airlines did not charge customers more.

 

I am a graduate employee on an unlimited contract and have completed one year with a company. My contract clearly states a salary of Dh4,000, including allowances. For the past six to seven months, my employer has reduced the salaries of most employees in the same salary bracket and for a few months, we were also unpaid. I used to receive a commission, which was removed at the same time as when the deductions started. I was recently told by my employer that I have to look for another job and that he will settle all salary dues. He said he would also settle my commissions only up to the time that they were removed. I have submitted a letter stating that I am resigning. When claiming my salary dues, can I claim Dh4,000 or my reduced salary of Dh3,500? I was also given to believe by a potential employer that if I decide to accept any new job offer, I will still be put on a ban, despite a no objection certificate (NOC) from my current employer. What would you advise? CD, Abu Dhabi

The first point here is that CD should not be asked to resign and it is not in his best interests to do so. If he is made redundant, then he cannot receive an employment ban. An employer cannot force an employee to resign and it is very strange that the company is asking people to do this. Regarding payment due, this will be based on the basic salary as set out in the contract of employment, plus allowances. An employer cannot arbitrarily reduce someone's income without this being agreed by both parties. If the contract states that someone is entitled to receive a commission, then the employer cannot just stop paying this, unless it is based on sales that have not happened. CD is entitled to all unpaid salary and a full 30 days' notice if he is made redundant. He should not tender his resignation in this situation because it could prejudice his future employment prospects in the UAE.

 

I have been working for the same company in Dubai for almost 12 years. I receive a monthly salary that consists of three parts: a basic salary of Dh20,000, something called "social-security benefits" of Dh2,000 and a car allowance of Dh3,000, so I receive a total monthly salary of Dh25,000. My employer has informed me that I do not have the right to obtain the usual end-of-service gratuity because I am being paid the above mentioned social-security benefits. I suspect that I would actually have the right to receive the standard end-of-service gratuity, but my employer might be declaring part of my salary as social-security benefits to avoid the payment of such gratuity. I also receive an annual housing allowance and yearly bonus, but I presume these are not relevant for this matter. SB, Dubai

It transpires that SB's employment contract states that the social-security benefit amount is paid monthly "for private pension and health and nursing insurance after provision of a proof. The benefits are in lieu of the severance pay regulations stipulated under UAE Labour Law." As he has accepted these terms and worked under them for 12 years, these will supersede the provisions of the UAE Labour Law, even if it is not entirely in the spirit of the law. It seems that the understanding is that SB would invest these monies, as that is what has been agreed. So it is not up to the employer to check this, although it would have been good practice for them to do so to ensure that all employees complied. My view, therefore, is that SB is not entitled to receive the standard end-of-service gratuity.

Keren Bobker is an independent financial adviser with Holborn Assets in Dubai. Contact her at keren@holbornassets.com or onyourside@thenational.ae