Looks like we’re going to be dragging up the ombudsman issue again, as a GGF and FENSA backed scheme enters the fray, with their main rivals of course being the DGCOS. Here is the statement on their website:

The Glazing Ombudsman Scheme has been launched for the Glazing Industry covering the installation of replacement windows and doors, conservatories and roofline products. The Scheme, known as ‘The Glazing Ombudsman’, will use the services of The Property Ombudsman to provide the Ombudsman facility.

The Property Ombudsman (TPO) is a Member of the British and Irish Ombudsman Association (BIOA) and has been providing an ombudsman service for 20 years. The Ombudsman is completely independent of his scheme members and is accountable to an independent Council, ensuring that The Glazing Ombudsman scheme can provide a free, fair and, above all, independent service for dealing with unresolved disputes between customers and members of the Scheme (registered businesses).

The Glazing Ombudsman is sponsored by the Glass and Glazing Federation and FENSA to provide financial stability, but in the medium term the low fee structure for registered businesses will provide sufficient funds for the scheme to prosper.

Members must follow the Code of Practice set out by The Glazing Ombudsman and provide customers with a fair and clear Contract of Sale in addition to Deposit and Work in Progress Insurance and several other commitments of service.

The process for customers to complain to the Ombudsman will be simple and hassle-free providing a final award, if appropriate, of up to £25,000. The award will be binding on the members but customers will be free to refuse the award and pursue their complaint through the courts. Customers may only use the TGO Scheme to complain about the goods supplied or work performed by members of the TGO scheme.

The Ombudsman service is to be undertaken by Mr Christopher Hamer who has been The Property Ombudsman since 2006. Prior to this he held, over a number of years, a series of posts in various ombudsman schemes, such as The Personal Investment Authority Ombudsman Bureau. He therefore brings a wide breadth of experience to The Glazing Ombudsman Scheme.

The Glazing Ombudsman is a ‘no-frills’, straightforward Ombudsman Scheme which aims to provide the customers of registered businesses with a means of redress in a fair and ‘hassle-free’ way if things go wrong. Insurance, such as Insurance Backed Guarantee (IBG) cover, can be imported from a TGO member’s existing supplier, subject to minimum requirements being met. Consequently, the TGO member has a financial commitment to pay for the Ombudsman Scheme and does not have costs associated with other fringe services.

As with anything new, I like to question it. I ask why has this ombudsman been set up when we already have the DGCOS? My natural response would be that because this is one that is GGF and FENSA backed and sponsored, it will have more respect within the industry. It’s also more likely to carry more confidence with a customer as they’re already more likely to have heard of FENSA or GGF than the DGCOS – despite their marketing strategy.

Why would companies want to join? The ombudsman is funded mainly by FENSA and the GGF, which means there is apparently a low cost fee for joining. Markedly lower than some of the reports I’ve heard about how much the DGCOS want from you!

The vetting process might raise an eyebrow with some. The DGCOS said that they had a robust vetting system, yet serial phoenixers managed to slip through the net, so I guess we’ll have to wait and see how successful that part of the business is.

The ombudsman sets itself out to show that it has teeth. DGCOS failed somewhat in following that promise up, lets hope that this one does manage to deliver on all fronts.

I’m sure I can count on some of you putting your point of view across!