Supermarket bosses have apologised to a former Wigan employee over a blunder which saw her facing demands to give back more than £1,800 she was paid after being diagnosed with incurable cancer.
Linda Fenton had been receiving letters on a weekly basis from former employer Asda, demanding repayment of money she was given after having to retire last summer.
She had worked at the Warrington distribution centre for eight years, but left in August after being told she had metastatic bone cancer, with three tumours on her left pelvis and one on her right.
Speaking to the Observer, the 49-year-old from Worsley Hall said the stress of dealing with the demands were hindering her therapy and had caused her unnecessary pain on a daily basis.
“I can’t sleep, I can’t eat, I am up all the time and in a lot of pain, I keep crying,” said Linda.
“I’ve been having chemo drugs and therapy at the hospice, and all of this had added to my illness, so the hospice advised me to fight it - the nurses say my pain is getting worse because of the stress.”
She added: “I just feel like they’ve dropped this on me. I don’t know what’s going on.”
In the letters from Asda’s ‘Overpaid Salaries Team’, seen by the Observer, payment of £1,822.11 is demanded after a “recalculation” of Linda’s final salary.
It was revealed that the company had even attempted to deduct the balance themselves, but were unable to do so.
There was then a request for payment within seven days.
Just a fortnight later, Linda received another letter requesting the payment once again, this time with a threat of bringing in solicitors if she did not reply with 14 days.
But Linda stated the amount paid to her was agreed in a meeting attended by herself, payroll staff and a union member, and was calculated based on her eight years service plus remaining holiday entitlement.
Adding to her worries was the fact that she simply didn’t have the money to give back.
“I virtually spent it all because I had to adapt my house and have wooden floors put in, a new bed put in because I kept getting stuck in my old one. I had to buy a wheelchair too,” she said.
But Asda bosses have now stated that the matter was closed some time ago, citing a technical glitch for the letters being sent to Linda.
A spokesman for Asda said: “This was an administrative error for which we are truly sorry.
“These letters should not have been sent but we appreciate the additional distress these letters will have caused Ms Fenton.
“We are contacting Ms Fenton to apologise for this mistake and confirm she does not owe us anything.”
Linda revealed her relief after hearing the case had been dropped, but still expressed anguish over the long-running debacle.
“I am very relieved, but they never sent me a letter, nothing at all.
“I wanted to countersue them for what they had put me through, but obviously I couldn’t afford a solicitor.”
She added: “The damage has been already because of all the stress it has caused me.”