To start, I have no way in officially verifying this report, which means no way to prove it one way or another.
But, this is one of my most recent comments:
I’ve just had a quote for just 2 windows and the company I went through want to charge me £400 for FENSA certificate!
Are they ripping me off?
It would be worrying if this was indeed a true account. For an installers to be piggy-backing off an industry body for a document that is the right of the home owner would be shameful.
What is less shocking is that this is not the first time I have either heard or read reports of installers asking for money for a FENSA certificate. I remember a home owner I saw a couple of years back where they told me how the installation company prior to me was asking for £60 for the FENSA certificate. Obviously not as much as the figure above, but, £60 is still £60 too much. At our place we just register the job with FENSA and the certificate gets sent to the home owner at no cost to them. Surely the best way to do it?
I am hearing more and more of these sorts of shenanigans from home owners. So, is this just a case of a few odd cases, or are we learning of a wider problem?
Here’s the thing, despite FENSA being around for a good 15 years now, there is still a percentage of home owners who are either totally unaware of the body and what it stands for, or have heard about it but know nothing about it and what it does.
It then becomes the duty of the installer to explain what FENSA is, or Certass, or any other certification body they might be a member of, what they do, why they need it and why as a home owner they need certification of the installation. To those that are learning of such things for the first time this might sound daunting. This presents the home owner with a problem and a less than honest installer with an opportunity.
It is quite possible for a dodgy installers at this point in the sales pitch to introduce a “cost” for such certification. To a home owner who has just found out about needed this sort of certificate, being told they need to pay exorbitant amounts of money for this piece of paper could sound genuine. Unfortunately, the elderly and those who are able-bodied and a tad too trusting could fall victim to such a tactic. There is a clear taking advantage of certain people by rogue installers who think they can spot a chance to steal a wedge.
Communication key to educating
I think one way to combat rogue tactics like this and others is to communicate with the home owner better to educate them and show them in more detail as to how our industry works and what buying new windows and doors really involves.
I have never believed that we have communicated with the industry all that well. Yes we advertise our products to the general public on the various media mediums, but we do very little to explain to the home owner how our industry works in any sort of detail. This is where increased education may be able to help combat dodgy tactics like the one mentioned above.
By explaining to home owners what exactly FENSA and other bodies are for, why installers have to be registered with one, what it means to be registered with one and what home owners get as part of their overall package, the public would be sharper to call out companies who think trying to charge £400 for a FENSA certificate is OK.
I also think if home owners knew a bit more about our overall supply chain, where their windows and doors come from from start to finish this would be a good thing as well. We all know as insiders that there is a very long supply chain that product has to go through before the point of installation. By opening ourselves up we might become a little bit less of a faceless sector and truths instead of grey areas might flourish a bit more.
Wishful thinking on my part I think. But, back to the matter at hand, if the installer accused is reading this and thinks it’s OK to try and charge £400 for a FENSA certificate, hang your head in shame, go put your tape measure down, leave and close the door behind you.
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