This is a guest post by Anda Gregory, Managing Director of FENSA
I was recently made aware of the interesting blog entitled “No, Your Husband Doesn’t Need To Be Present To Sign For New Windows”. It was pretty shocking to see that there are clearly examples of some very poor and outdated practices in the industry, and from my perspective as FENSA’s Managing Director, it was extremely disappointing that the FENSA name has been misused to communicate this blatant sexism.
As was correctly pointed out in the article, of course it’s not in FENSA’s rules that women can’t be solely responsible to sign a contract for double glazing products. The FENSA team believes strongly in equality, diversity and inclusion and anyone who’s dealt with us will quickly realise that our male:female split is about 50:50 from our customer services team right through to our management.
If and when salesmen/women are saying this sort of thing, it is likely that they feel they need to have buy in from both people in a couple to avoid being accused of mis-selling or making a sale which could fall through because an absent partner isn’t happy. While this could be understandable, and potentially commendable, it is hard for it not to be seen as patronising if it’s stated as “your husband has to be here to sign”. This alone could put many women off the purchase in today’s age. There are clearly ways this could be communicated by the salesman or company without being patronising, explaining that it is the company’s policy to require signatures from both parties in a couple. There should be no reason to mention gender.
In some cases though, there does need to be another party’s opinion required in a sale and that is when it may involve vulnerable people. This does need to be treated seriously and it doesn’t matter whether they’re male or female, young or old– if a salesman or a company has any inkling about vulnerability, a second opinion should be sought before the sale is made.
FENSA has been successful over the last 16 years thanks to the good work of our members who have now registered over 13 million installations through FENSA – almost half of the households in England and Wales have windows or doors installed by FENSA companies. We will always highlight the high standards of our members – and fortunately FENSA companies are an absolute credit to the industry, doing things properly and not discriminating or patronising when communicating to their customers. The standards in the industry when it comes to sales practices have improved over the years, and FENSA will continue to support and push these.
A final thought to end on – we all know that we have a skills shortage in the industry, with not enough young people joining the industry or having the necessary skills to do the job. I’ve been told that part of this is because of the negative perceptions of the double glazing world. In some quarters in the media, we hear and read of dodgy cowboys with unscrupulous sales tactics. We know that’s not true of the industry as whole, but when there are questionable sales tactics going on, they will continue to get bad press and with social media bad practice and poor workmanship can spread very quickly.
This negativity can hurt our industry and can potentially damage business. I call on all decent companies in the industry, to ensure the headlines are positive and that we’re not seen as dinosaurs when it comes to treating customers equally and fair regardless of gender.
If anyone does come across examples or evidence of sexist selling techniques or any other misinformation or concerns, I’d love to hear from you so we can try to do something about it – email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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