Continuing the theme of company vs rogue client posts, I want to explore whether window and door installers actually have enough protection from home owners who deliberately seek to shirk their contractual responsibilities.
On Twitter at the moment there is a lot of talk among installers about how bad this year has been for certain home owners looking for more than a pound of flesh out of installers. I have recently had this comment left by an installer here on DGB:
Absolutely, 100% agree with post and all comments. This year it’s as if customers have all taken the same vow of let’s order our windows and doors but not pay what we agreed. I’m relatively new to the window industry (only 4 years) but totally amazes me at the payment practices and ALL companies need to start working to same the payment code so that customers can’t play us off against one another. It’s going to be an uphill structure to re-educate a country grown used to not paying until the job is done. This year, we’ve had to fight almost every single installation (and I promise you we are a good company, we go above and beyond to deliver an excellent installation from start to finish) as customers totally ignore our terms and conditions and decide. We recently had a customer not pay us for a week and not have the courtesy to tell us why….they had gone on holiday the day the installation finished. We’ve had customers withhold thousands for the slightest snag. Try to get money off after the installation is completed. The British public are becoming a nation of consumers who know the price of everything and the value of nothing. This year, so many customers have made me angry, frustrated and downright depressed by their behaviour.
The frustration in this comment is clear and strong. The going on holiday trick is also something we have had at our place. Personally I couldn’t do that to a business, but perhaps because I work in one I understand those particular frustrations.
So, do installers have any protection? Is there a way to avoid this sort of abuse towards business? Spoiler alert, there is a poll at the end of this post!
Your property until paid?
It is a common belief that among many that if an installer fits windows and doors into a home, they remain their property until they are paid for. That has been a subject of discussion on social media of late. A few of you have been sharing your experiences with home owners. But, in a long thread on Twitter, this is what Briam Smith, formerly of the GGF and now an independent, had to say:
Once you fit new Windows they become part of the fixtures and fittings of the property, so they belong to the consumer even if not paid for.— Brian Smith (@bajsmith) November 11, 2017
I suggest that you read that thread from start to finish. It’s a perfect demonstration of how quality small installers suffer and how the legal avenues to protect the business are long, protracted and frustrating.
It also appears that once the windows and doors are installed in a home, they belong to the home, paid for or not. If this is the case, then this is surely a massive oversight by lawmakers? You couldn’t drive a car away from a garage, park it on your drive and then claim that because it’s now on your drive it’s yours, whether you’ve paid or not. Why should this be the case for windows and doors? As far as I’m concerned, if you take something, or have something installed and haven’t paid for it, it’s not yours, simple as that, and the company who made or supplied the products should be perfectly entitled to take them back.
This is where installers have little protection. When a home owner denies payment, installers have to go through a time consuming, drawn out process of letters, warnings and final warnings just to get to the point of starting legal processes which then take months. In the meantime, that home owner is reaping the rewards of their new windows and doors and the installer is down thousands of pounds with cash flows hit and focus drawn away from the day job to have to deal with legal matters. Where is the fairness in that?
Is there any institution or body out there with the teeth and willing to lobby on behalf of the SME’s in our industry to attempt a fight back against rogue home owners and their blatant abuse of the legal system to unfairly skew final balance situations in their favour? My guess is not. SME’s in this industry I feel have always been left to muddle along on their own, navigating their way through barrages of ever changing legal framework, products and home owner habits.
This is where I want your opinion to help shape the picture around this matter.
Your opinion matters
This is a a growing problem. At our place it has been the worst year ever for home owners looking to make things very difficult when it comes to final payment. Previous comments on here and on social media point to a consumer culture that only seems to be getting more militant towards business.
So, I want to know your thoughts on this important matter, and a poll will help me do that. Before you go on with the rest of your day, please take a second to click on one of the three options below to let us know if you think installers have enough protection or not. I’ll post a results article once I have enough votes in, and I’ll make it my new featured post on the DGB home page and my new pinned tweet on my Twitter feed.
Please also feel free to add your own thoughts and comments to this important issue via the comments section below. I know that plenty of installers out there will be feeling the pressure with this, so if we can start to lift the lid on the scale of the problems out there then perhaps we can start to build a platform from which we can tackle it.
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