It has not been a good day for VW and it’s associated brands. News has broken that at least 11 million cars worldwide may have bee fitted with faulty software which gave out false data when being tested for CO2 emissions. These results said that the levels were lower than they actually are. A big no no.
The company is now facing fines of around $18bn in the US alone, with figures from the UK and Europe not yet known. Countries including South Korea, the US and Italy have opened up criminal investigations to get to the bottom of exactly what has been going on.
Then there is the threat of legal actions from customers. It is feasible that many of the cars sold were bought by people specifically for the reason that they had low CO2 emissions. If the truth about those emissions is uncovered, then you could argue that those cars were mis-sold. Thinking PPI yet?
All of this got me thinking, could something like this be lurking in our own window and door industry?
When it comes to our industry, it’s fair to say that there are a few areas that we all have our suspicions about. One of the biggest gripes left in the comment section on here, especially from a certain Kevin, is the Window Energy Ratings scheme. I think many have been suspicious of the scheme, as well as being skeptical of the maths behind it. It’s a less than perfect option to judge a window’s energy efficiency, yet it was chosen because the label was deemed most familiar with home owners.
Another institution that comes under regular scrutiny is Secure by Design. The security badge officially backed by the police. Here are a couple of tweets which indicate the thoughts towards the scheme:
These sorts of mutterings about SBD and Building Regulations is not a new thing. I have had plenty of conversations during my time in the industry about Secure by Design, and the accusation of it being too easy to pass and it being easy to manipulate is a popular one.
With Building Regulations, it is something that appears to have less and less teeth every time it is updated. In fact the last time it was, the previous drafts of the changes were far more radical than the final ones turned out to be. In the end pressure from house builders made Government water down areas of Building Regulations such as U-Values, that would have seen much tighter, and arguable better U-Value standards being set. This did not happen.
Could a VW-style swindle being happening with WERs, SBD and Buildings Regulations?
The issue of pricing is another area where many believe something not quite right is going on. You may remember that the EU handed down fines in the hundreds of millions of Euros to some of the world’s biggest glass companies because of cartel behaviour.
I think it would be naive to believe that after that incident dodgy pricing behaviour at any level has stopped. In fact I am that confident that if regulators were to really scratch the surface of many parts of our industry, they would find all sorts of things wrong.
Scratching the surface
We have to ask ourselves, if there really was some swindling going on, would we really want to know about it?
You only have to look at the growing implications at VW to see the potential of what could happen if something untoward was discovered. VW fudged some emissions test. They now face a fine of $37,000 PER CAR affected in the US. They have criminal investigations in at least three countries. Further fines are likely from other countries. They have set aside £6bn to deal with it and that looks unlikely to be anywhere near enough. They face potential legal action over potentially mis-sold cars. The company could be left in tatters. And that’s not considering the possibility that other car manufacturers have done the same thing!
Our industry certainly doesn’t have the funds VW have to put right it’s wrongs.
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