Penalised for doing my job[QQ] – The changes to company car tax do not take into account drivers who do not have the car as a perk but as an essential part of their job.

I work for a company that services machine tools. To do this we have to visit sometimes obscure parts of the country; we have to carry tools, manuals, PCs and spares. How can this be done without a company car?

I currently have a Mondeo estate. A smaller vehicle would not be big enough to allow me to carry the tools of my trade. I will be penalised by the new tax system for doing my job. Why?

Derek Morgan, via e-mail

Mistreated by PwC?

– In this politically correct world where race, sex and disability discrimination are illegal, there is one type which is missing. This ‘new’ type is professional discrimination.

I worked for Pricewaterhouse-Coopers for four years; I left last year to move to another firm. The main reason I moved was professional discrimination.

While at PwC I studied for the ACCA exams and passed them this summer.

Because I was studying ACCA, and not ACA like many others, I was treated like I had a different skin colour. Some may feel there is little or no difference between ACCA and ACA, but PwC made it very clear it wanted nothing to do with the ACCA qualification.

This time last year I had passed Module E of the ACCA exams and had over five years’ professional experience. But my salary was only just above #11,000 and I had no promotion prospects. In comparison, a new ACA recruit who had passed no professional exams and had no professional office experience could expect at least #13,000. My starting salary at PwC when I had two years’ professional experience was #7,700.

Since I was working in the same business line (auditing) as new recruits, but taking the job to a higher level than they would have been able to, I should have been paid the same, or more.

A nearly qualified ACA student with five years’ experience would be earning #20,000 or more. I have nothing against ACA students, but I protest most strongly against PwC’s treatment of ACCA students. In any other profession discrimination of this type would not be allowed. How does PwC get away with it?

Christopher J Slight, ACCA

Apologies from ICAEW

I was sorry to read about Mr King’s problems with my institute’s professional standards office (letters, 11 January, page 15).

I apologise for what happened but I don’t think his experience is typical.

Mr King’s complaint is one of many hundreds handled each year by the conciliation section of the PSO. The aim of conciliation is to broker a mutually agreed resolution to a problem between the parties involved without recourse to our formal disciplinary procedures. 90% of all complaints assigned are successfully resolved there.

Whatever the outcome, we ask both sides what they thought of the service.

In 2000, 85% rated the process as ‘adequate’ through to ‘excellent’. We aim to improve on this figure in 2001.

John Collier, secretary general, ICAEW

XML may be dressed for the part but can it really cut it in the business world?

– XML appears to be flavour of the month – but is it really better than EDI?

XML simply doesn’t cut it yet in the business-to-business trading world, as it doesn’t even have a standard message format.

Biztalk is on the horizon and will solve some of the standards issues with its own growing list of XML schemas, but without a governing body to set the guidelines, there will be consistency problems. EDI, of course, had all this licked years ago.

Sure, XML’s human readable format means that you can at least ‘read’ what data was originally sent and have some idea of its content, but at best this only provides a printed copy and negates the true benefits of XML as a computer to computer process.

Issues such as synchronising product codes or quantity conversions are not solved by XML. For example, one person’s quantity definition for a single pallet, is another person’s single box!

EDI has been meeting these challenges for over two decades.

It is very trendy to slate EDI over new, perceivably ‘flexible’ technologies such as XML, but over 1.5 trillion euros will be traded by the year 2002 using this method alone (Forrester Research).

It is 10 times more efficient on file size and follows international standards already recognised and adhered to.

What is needed now is a sensible mix of the two – EDI standards using internet transmission protocols ensuring that we can trade successfully and openly without missing a beat.

Adrian Stafford-Jones, managing director, Albany Software Ltd, Hampshire

All letters should be sent to:

The Editor, Accountancy Age, VNU House, 32-34 Broadwick Street, London W1A 2HG

Tel: 020 7316 9236 Fax: 020 7316 9250

Or e-mail us on:

Accountancy Age reserves the right to edit letters for space or clarity.

Please include your title, company name and a daytime telephone number.

Related reading