Ok that is a bad title. Sounds very Heat Magazine, doesn’t it? “Betrayal! Scandal! My heartbreaking story!”
Well, I do feel very betrayed, extremely angry and completely gutted, but I’m gonna try and avoid tabloid style sensationalism!
Ok, so the story in brief, which I haven’t really gone in to yet on this blog, started way back in July. Carl and I have been wanting to emigrate out here for years, but of course it is very difficult to do unless you have a job in Canada to go to. Doctor Coffee’s Cafe was painfully quiet over the summer, and one day I had an incredibly bad day at work, came home in a foul mood and googled “coffee jobs, Canada”. Several popped up, including the “Front End Manager” (ahem!!) at Kave Haz in Regina. I sent off my CV to them and a load of other places and didn’t really expect anyone to take me remotely seriously. But Ken did, or at least seemed to. He rang me up the next day via Skype, and said I thought I’d do great at the job, he said he needed a manager because he didn’t really know what he was doing, and he wanted the place to be European style, he liked my accent and so on. He was even talking about letting the manager take over the business entirely in a few years and pay him rent for the building.
I coughed up a lot of money for a flight out to Regina at the end of July, stayed for a week and got all excited with Ken and his family. I even trained up some baristas there. I left having got a written job offer letter and he sent off the forms for a Labour Market Opinion (LMO)which, if successful, would enable me to get my work permit. The last thing he said to me at the airport was “I can’t do this without a manager”
The LMO took TWELVE WEEKS AND FIVE DAYS TO ARRIVE. This was agonizing because I did not know what to do. It could have been rejected at any point, and so I couldn’t make any concrete plans about selling my cafe, or our house, or whether Carl should quit his job. During that time, I tried to stay in touch with Ken, but he never rang me, and we only talked when I caught him on Skype. I also got a few very very brief emails (with no punctuation), but nothing in any depth. To be fair, he did sound despondant and said the cafe wasn’t going well, and also that he had “lost” two chefs – which is another matter I’ll come to in a minute. He did say that he wasn’t sure how he would pay me at one point, but most significantly, he never once said “there is no job here, don’t bother coming.” Not once. There was absolutely nothing to suggest that he was retracting the job offer.
Finally, the LMO was approved at the end of October. Ken bothered to call me to tell me. He did warn me that all was not well, but I naively assumed he was being overdramatic and said I would come out and sort things out. Meaning, trying to give him a confidence boost with the place, and get a formal start date for the job. I also needed the time to look for somewhere to live, and for Carl and Miranda to see the place too. I would have thought it was fairly obvious at that point that I was serious about the job offer, and that I genuinely believed there was a job to go to. When I say “I’ll fly out and we can talk about starting work” – you’d think that would be a good opportunity to say “Sorry, there’s no job” wouldn’t you?? But Nooooooooooo.
So, on the basis of a successful LMO application, a job offer in writing, and the fact that Ken knew full well what I was doing, I transferred my cafe business over to Jo. This was pretty emotional for all, and I do still think I was more generous to her than I could really afford to be, but I wanted her to have it and keep it ‘ours’ rather than selling it to a total stranger. But anyway, I ‘sold’ it… that’s it. No more cafe for me.
Then I flew out to Regina with Carl and Miranda.
We spent a couple of days hanging around in Kave Haz, Ken was very busy, and he said he was stressing, still saying he doesn’t know if he could afford to pay me, and that I shouldn’t talk of full time work. Worrying, but I was imagine maybe starting off part time, and helping him build the place up a bit. the fact that he was still suggesting houses and apartments we could rent near the cafe gave me enough hope.
Then he went in to hospital for this knee surgery, said he’d see us on Monday. Monday turned in to Thursday (by which time Carl had left – which was a pain cos I was getting highly suspicious and I want him there for moral support!). Thursday eventually turned in to Saturday morning, by which time I’d pretty much given up anyway, and done my radio interview and heard from some far more positive people. I should point out that Ken NEVER rang me that week, it was always me calling him and trekking down to Kave Haz on the bus.
I kinda demanded a straight answer. He said he thought he’d been pretty straight with me already??? er,… riiiiight. Even then, he STILL didn’t say “there is no job, sorry” he just said he couldn’t pay me. He also seemed convinced that he’d warned me about the state of the place, and I was stupid for selling up and coming out. I replied that I did it on the basis of a successful LMO, a job offer and nothing to tell me the job had vanished, and that he knew full well what I was doing and didn’t stop me. Again, he never told me not to. At this point it got nasty – he kinda realised he’d majorly screwed up and had been caught out and instead of apologising, he basically just sulked, saying it was my fault for trusting him, that I was inventing things and reading too much into what had been said. I did point out there are few other interpretations to “Dear Annabel, We are pleased to offer you the job of Manager at Kave Haz….” But nooooo, apparently, he only wrote that letter to satisfy the conditions of the LMO. Oh and that “Erika – ” (his wife) “told me not to send off the LMO because you’d think it was a serious job offer.” WTF? What planet is this guy on?? Apparently, there was a job but he needed the manager in July. But it’s not like he didn’t know that I wouldn’t be able to start then – he was the one who filled out the LMO! So, incredulous, I asked why he’d offered me it, and why on earth he hadn’t cancelled the LMO when he realised there wasn’t going to be a job. Apparently “because he was doing me a favour.” Nice favour, it’s really useful without a job to go to isn’t it!? Then he start accusing me of all sorts, saying I wanted to change the place (well, the coffee is cheap and nasty and the machine is crap – but then, the point of employing me as manager would be to develop the place, right?). Basically, he got pissed off and desperate, and turned into a sulky teenager. This didn’t help my mood at all – at the very least he could be mature and reasonable about it, and apologise. The final straw was when he said I was talking too loudly and that he couldn’t understand why I was angry!!!
So, I just stormed out of there, threatening to sue him. I probably could, if I could be bothered. Essentially he cost me my business. I also had a few discussions with three people, independent of each other and all of which shall remain nameless, who have warned me off him, talking of total lack of communication and not receiving payments and so on… I may have to queue up in the solicitors!!
So, fortunately, I seem to have got myself sorted elsewhere, not thanks to Mr Ken Ramage. I do really worry for the people still working for him, and I really suggest, if you are reading this and you are in Regina, then AVOID THE PLACE LIKE THE PLAGUE.