We all complain about the bad companies and bad individuals in our industry, and for good reason. Whilst I suspect most of us are professional people running professional businesses, there are always a few out there that spoil the party for the rest of us and we all get tarred with the brush that says we’re all cowboys and rogues and that the general public should hold us at arms length. I’m sorry to say though, that this is the way it will remain, as there is no effective way to police this industry.
Organisations with no teeth
If an industry really wants to behave itself, it has to be scared of the bodies that oversee it. Right now we have bodies like FENSA, Certass, Network Veka for example that companies can choose to be part of. Most are FENSA registered, some are Certass and a few are Network Veka. These are self certification bodies that check the work of installers then send a certificate to the homeowner to say that the work is good and legal. These are the types of bodies that are supposed to make our industry work better, and work to a legal standard. Yet in reality we all know that there are plenty of companies out there probably bending the rules, if not breaking them altogether, knowing they will probably get away with it. And why do they do it? Because they know they can get away with it.
Organisations like FENSA won’t like to hear this, but companies are not scared of them. They know that in reality they can do very little, even with the new MTC legislation. Double glazing companies who want to get away with rule breaking can do so, as inspections come so few and far between each year, that the chances of being caught doing something that shouldn’t are slim to none.
Trading standards not interested
Away from voluntary self-certifying schemes, there is Trading Standards. This is the Government body that is supposed to make sure that businesses, not just the window and door industry, play fair. Yet I am hearing more and more often now that when both customers and companies from this industry go to trading standards to report issues, either they are referred to other bodies like FENSA or the GGF, or little action is taken at all.
A symptom of an industry with a pasty reputation, or a Government body that needs an overhaul?
Industry too big
Lets face it, as a policing force, the schemes and departments aren’t anywhere big enough to be able to police this industry. There are around 14,000 window and doors companies in our industry. Then consider the number of builders and DIYers out there, they probably number at least 30,000+.
How do you keep a close eye on that many people and companies installing windows, doors and glazed extensions? In reality you can’t. It’s silly for any organisation, Government or otherwise to be able to say they can actually keep track on all companies.
Is it time to change tack then? Does there need to be a change as to how our industry is regulated? There are far more laws and regulations in existence now, what with MTC cards, CE Marking etc. Does FENSA/Certass need to be given more funding and more powers so that their reach and choice of punishments gives them more teeth? Any option which involves more money is unlikely to happen.
So, in the end, I guess the only realistic thing to do is for us good guys to keep our heads down, do a good job, and hope that karma comes round to bite the arses of the companies who tarnish our industry and eventually go bust.
Do you have any ideas on this subject? Should something more be done to give our industry bodies more to help enforce the laws being broken? All comments welcome on this in the section below.
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