Very little seems to have been said about this, but there is a new Consumer Rights Bill due to be enacted this Autumn which could potentially cause some very serious problems for both installers and suppliers in our industry.

Basically this new Consumer Rights Bill, as it is written at the moment, will allow customers to demand a full refund if they report a just a small default. It would also allow the customer to return that said product to the installers. So imagine the scenario (and this was the scenario put forward at a recent GGF meeting): a customer spots a small scratch in a sealed unit to a window or a door. Thanks to the way the new CRB is written right now, it would allow that customer to demand a refund in full for that window and door. But not only that, the installers can then remove the faulty window or door from that person’s home without installing a replacement. See the problem?

As written on, the three main parts of the bill which will affect our industry are the following:

1. The Bill will introduce an “early right to reject” for goods – giving consumers the right to reject a product for a fault within 30 days and have a full refund, or agree one repair or replacement.

2. Time stops until the repair or replacement is given – once given the consumer has the remainder of the 30 days or at least 7 days to decide if the fault has been resolved. If the fault is not resolved then the consumer can reject then (known as the “final right to reject” and have a full refund or accept the product with the fault and have a price reduction. The consumer cannot opt for a further replacement AND a price reduction – it is one or the other.

3. A fault which is a latent defect can be complained about within 6 years of delivery (5 years in Scotland). The remedy is repair or replacement – if the fault is not resolved then the consumer can reject the product and get a refund subject to deduction for use, or keep the product with the fault and have a price reduction. The consumer can of course opt for a further repair or replacement to fix the fault.

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We all know how educated the consumer has become, thanks to the internet and completely biased TV programmes designed to promote the abuse of business. I’m afraid that if and when this becomes law, as it is written, this would leave so many of our businesses open to massive amounts of abuse. This law I believe actually has the potential to turn what are currently a reasonable demographic of customers into well informed, professional refunders.

This is why I believe that as an industry, and on behalf of business in general, we all need to fight this rule as quickly and as strongly as possible. Because if not, there is the real possibility that good honest businesses are going to lose vital amounts of money. That is why I am going to be campaigning hard to point out to the powers that be that as it stands, this new CRB is potentially very harmful.

At the moment the GGF seems to be the only body within our industry that is even trying to alert Government to the possible problems. Now it’s time to put all your objections and opinions of the GGF aside as they are the only body that has clear access to Government and have been the first body to campaign against the current version of this bill. So we need to get behind this effort to enhance it further to make it louder and more powerful.

One of the best ways to bring this to the attention to Government is for all of us to write a letter to our local MP’s to register our displeasure. Click here to download a template provided by the GGF to make that a little bit easier: consumer righst bill template letter for constituency mp final-530f47d071d6e. What I shall also be doing is writing to Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls to raise my own discomfort at this new bill. We have spoken by letter a few times so I cam confident that he will at least read my letter and send me a reply.

We need to be clear about this, if this law does not change before it is enacted, it WILL our businesses open to even more abuse than we are receiving now. If we do not back a campaign of pressure to change it, we WILL be at great risk.