30 day money back rights for consumers.

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The government is seeking to make consumer rights clearer and more straight forward, yet at a recent meeting of the GGF the government officials were challenged over their assumptions about our industry.

These representatives who lead the policy from BIS, expect customers to be able to reject faulty goods and either return them for a full refund or have them replaced (as current law allows) however, when pushed, they gave the illustration of a blown sealed unit.

They think it will be fine for the consumer to demand a full refund for the blown unit (or the entire window) and in return, for the fitters to remove the goods being refunded from the building (without replacement) leaving their homes open to the elements and intruders!

It was an interesting debate and opened everyone’s eyes to the forthcoming legislation, yet again the GGF is fighting the battle alone, for the industry!

The following press release concerning the event was recently issued by the GGF, and they are now asking all companies to write to their MPs, because as written, this new Bill will create the legal right for consumers to demand a full refund or reject all the windows on a contact, because of one minor blemish or fault;

The first joint GGF Conservatory Association and Window and Door meeting of 2014 on 30th January at Solihull, saw an important debate gather real momentum regarding the incoming Consumer Rights Bill – due to be enacted in Autumn 2014.

At the meeting held in Solihull, Adam Gray and Laura Harbidge, Policy Leads for Goods and Services from BIS (Department of Business Innovation and Skills) presented the Bill’s contents and how the window, door and conservatory industry will be affected.

The presentation was then followed by a Question and Answer session in which GGF Members were invited to put forward their concerns directly to the Government officials.

The main aspects of this Bill which will affect the glazing industry are:-

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Among the key issues raised by Members were as follows;

–          As the Bill is written, a consumer can have an installation of say 10 windows, reject them all for a fault on one window, and get a full refund so long as they make the windows “available” to the trader; debate ensued as to whether a trader would spend the cost and time in removing windows that could not be used elsewhere.

–          The Bill has not fully considered the implications on the glazing industry. For example, the depreciation/value (and use) of custom made windows once they have been removed as part of a refund has not been calculated.

–          The new Bill is supposed to makes things clear and simple for consumers and traders, however there is no chapter for mixed contracts only separate chapters each for goods and services. This makes the Bill confusing which leaves much of its content down to interpretation.

–          As windows, doors and conservatories are fixed to the building Members felt there should be a separate chapter for building and home improvement work within the Bill, to distinguish these goods from simple goods like TV’s and toasters.

On the day of the meeting and after the presentation, GGF members made the following comments:

Andrew Glover of West Yorkshire Windows and Chairman of the GGF Window and Door Group on the impact of the incoming Bill said;

We are struggling to see how these new changes are going to help our, or other businesses. Although we agree there should be change, the current options aren’t favourable.

Alan Burgess, Managing Director of Masterframe added:

The Consumer Rights Bill has worthy objectives, but there is a reason the “test of reasonableness” exists. They should exclude windows from being consumer goods for the purposes of this Bill once they are installed. This was one of the most valuable days I’ve spent at a GGF meeting. Not only did we have the opportunity to directly question Government advisers and their Ministers’ decisions but we were also able to inform them of the challenges our industry faces when dealing with consumers.

Greg O’Donoghue of Just Window and Doors, said:

The problem with this suggested legislation in the construction industry is that, in trying to prescribe and define too much, it ends up being over-prescriptive and leaves no room for a judge to decide what is reasonable. The effect is going to be that we will have some ludicrous but very costly scenarios.

Phil Tweedie, Anglian Home Improvements added;

Anglian Home Improvements welcomes the Consumer Rights Bill as a positive step towards raising the standards of consumer protection. However, we believe that the Bill is in need of certain improvements if it is to have the confidence of business and consumers alike. In particular, we would like to see greater clarity on the right to reject bespoke goods and on the classification of goods and services. We would urge the government to look closely at these issues as the Bill progresses through Parliament.

GGF President Brian Baker of Glassolutions Saint-Gobain commented:

With most glazing being custom made to the consumer’s specific requirements, there is simply no comparison between glazing products and standard consumer goods such as electrical appliances and clothing. It is therefore unfair for glazing to be classified as such under this incoming legislation. It would be advisable for BIS to re-visit the Bill and have glazing (replacement or new build) categorised as a permanent fixture as it does with buildings.

This Bill was laid before Parliament on the 23rd January. The GGF will be submitting evidence to the Parliamentary Public Bill Committee (to be considered by the MPs on that Committee) proposing that goods such as windows made to the consumer’s specification should be treated differently from generic consumer goods.

The GGF will shortly be writing to every Member urging them to write to their local MPs to raise this issue in Parliament. Members will be provided with a template letter highlighting that glazing is a custom made product and quite different from mass manufactured consumer goods.

In the meantime, the Federation in conjunction with its political consultants GK Strategy will continue to meet with BIS officials, to look for ways to limit the problems the Consumer Rights Bill could cause both for the glazing industry and consumers, when it comes into force later this year.

Read the press release itself here, or to download the template letter to send to your MP, get it from the GGF here

Do you think there’s anything to worry about or is it just hot air? We welcome the debate regarding the new money back guarantee proposals.

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