I read this from a Guardian reader the other day:
We paid a £1,000 deposit by BACS transfer in July for double glazing with a company called Highgrove Windows. Work has still not started and I’ve heard from five other customers in the same boat, including a couple who have waited over a year.
When we employed the company it was registered with Fensa, the official competent persons scheme for glazing. However, its membership has been cancelled due to the number of complaints and Fensa is not interested, even though they claim on their website that if a trader breaches Fensa rules they will aid prosecution. They insist registered traders take out a deposit insurance policy, but it’s the trader’s responsibility to register each customer’s details for any insurance to become effective. Thus, while reputable companies readily register your details, rogue traders will not, allowing a loophole for them to get away with vast sums of money.
The company is being investigated by Kent Trading Standards, but even with the numerous complaints they have received none of us has had any assurances they will prosecute.
Then look at one of the comments the reporter made in her response:
There is nothing, it seems, to prevent someone who knows how to play the system to defy toothless regulations and repeatedly reinvent himself.
Here is the post in question: http://www.guardian.co.uk/money/2013/jan/06/highgrove-windows-fensa-trading-standards
The point Anna, the reporter, makes is absolutely spot on. Rather embarrassingly, if an outsider can identify the massive failure in regulation and legal protection for the customer in cases like this, then why can’t we do anything about it as an industry? We can see the loopholes, and we can see the problems. But I think the issue we have is that as an industry we see the problem as too big to tackle and can’t be that bothered to do anything about it.
The fact is though, there are some very clever people and some very powerful people who could, if they got their brains in gear, come up with a solution that could have teeth and close loopholes like this for good. We have the tools and the organisations like FENSA and the GGF in place to make such things happen once a solution can be found. I just think that in an industry as mature and innovative as ours, it’s staggering to think that we can still let cowboys and rogue tradesmen operate relatively freely in this country.
What is most concerning about this is the article itself. It is yet more bad press for our industry when the rest of us are trying so desperately hard to be the absolute opposite to what is being reported in this article. It’s not good from FENSA’s point of view as they are mentioned and they are our industry’s biggest self-certifying organisation.