Monthly Archives: August 2013

GGFi members get a boost with FREE silver membership

ggfi logo

GGFi have recently negotiated a new benefit for all their members; SILVER membership of our web site allowing each GGFi member to display their company logo, the GGFi logo along with other accreditations that they hold and the products and services which they offer. It’s a free additional benefit until the end of next year December 2014, saving them about £180.

Know as a leading provider of IBGs GGFi has cultivated an excellent reputation built on it’s core commitment of delivering a fair service to all customers, being the only IBG provider to be recommended by FENSA and the Guild of Master Craftsmen.

So why have GGFi done this for their members?

Well simply, they believe in the site. They know that each of us are becoming more internet savvy these days, rarely will we book a holiday or hotel with checking on trip advisor (or a similar independent review web site) first. They also know that it is far easier to find users comments, reviews or testimonials online and most people do research, before any large purchase. Windows are no different.  

Why is the site unique and how will it help GGFi members?

Some companies may be fortunate enough that work comes to them from recommendations and advertising isn’t needed, however getting seen on the internet can be harder going. When homeowners do find your website, you must first convince them of your credentials. That’s where we start; visitors can read about every accreditation, understand why they should use GGFi members and then read genuine testimonials, from previous customers.

There is a real challenge with reviews and testimonials.

People don’t trust those written on your own web site, they’re “made up” or “they will only show good ones”. Every other review web site allows people to hide behind pseudonyms, faceless contributors free to say what they think without any comeback, hence they normally focus on negative reviews. Not so with Doubleglazingcompanies.com.

Every reviewer has to leave us their name, contact details and a live email account to activate their review. This way there isn’t any tittle tattle, just honest feedback about work done. So far the vast majority have been great reviews, which have helped companies get more leads. Making testimonials public, on independent web sites means they are visible, 24/7 for your business. We’re working hard to make Doubleglazingcompanies.com, the trip advisor for the double glazing industry and want you to share in the success.

From the outset the site was designed to be equal to all, nobody can pay for better positions, nobody can outbid another company for space and companies cannot influence their feedback rankings, just customers. No one receives preferential coverage, there’s no advertising permitted or sponsorship deals– this is simply an opportunity for excellent companies to reach new customers.

Active companies are finding it helps raise their presence locally and assists with gaining new recommendations and new enquiries for their business, whilst retail customers are finding great companies to entrust their projects to.

For more information about joining GGFi and the benefits it offers click here.

 

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The Glazing Ombudsman welcomes Everest Home Improvements

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The Glazing Ombudsman (TGO) has welcomed Everest Ltd as a new member joining Safestyle UK, Anglian and  Zenith which collectively account for the majority of installations in the UK.

The Glazing Ombudsman is an independent and impartial, not for profit organisation, for resolving disputes between consumers and installers of double glazing, replacement windows, doors and conservatories and is the ONLY ombudsman for the glazing sector approved by the Ombudsman Association.

Membership of TGO is voluntary, it isn’t mandatory by government, and costs companies to join. Whilst the costs of membership is very low, members must pay a joining fee, and a fee towards the investigation work should a complaint be lodged and they must abide by the Ombudsman’s decision. Homeowners on the other hand, are not bound by the decision of the Ombudsman, their rights remain and so are free to seek redress through the legal system should they choose to.

TGO can award compensation where it considers it appropriate. However as a not for profit organisation and because it is not owned by any single company or trade association, their findings will be independent and impartial. Customers often think that because a company is part of an association like the GGF or Fensa for instance, those organisations will always side with their members best interests. Whilst that isn’t the case, it certainly isn’t the case with TGO.

There is a board of the TGO who administer the company, collect fees from members and which set the membership policy. There is a Council of non industry personnel who ensure the ombudsman’s independence, appoints the ombudsman and set out his terms of reference to ensure the right powers are available. Then there is the Ombudsman himself, Christopher Hamer who is ultimately responsible to decide disputes. Mr Hamer has been The Property Ombudsman since 2006 and has held a number of similar positions previously.

It is important for customers to distinguish between Redress and Regulation. Redress is intended to provide compensation for customers who have suffered unacceptable behaviour, in individual cases. Regulation on the other hand is the setting of rules by which companies agree to operate, and enforcement action taken when these have been breached.

TGO is able to make awards of up to £25,000 in compensation for financial loss which member companies must abide by. Look out for companies who display the TGO accreditation as a credible mark of complete satisfaction and assurance.

 

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‘Aggressive’ window salesman jailed for agressive pressure selling

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According to a press release on trading standards web site “A rogue window salesman who targeted elderly people on their own doorsteps by aggressively pressuring them into agreeing to have work done has been jailed”.

The article says that Ismail Pandor, 43, from Mirfield, West Yorkshire pleaded guilty at Preston Crown Court to five counts of engaging in unfair commercial practices – three of which were aggressive.

Seems Pandor was working for a company called Eco Homes, and although he visited with prior agreement he insisted that deals and government discounts were only available if the homeowners signed up on the day of his visit.

Jailed for 3 months it seems he must first serve a 16-month sentence relating to previous false representations while working for himself.  The company Eco Homes are not being prosecuted.

Angela Jones, Trading Standards Services Manager for Cumbria County Council, said:

This verdict will hopefully deter rogue traders and demonstrates that enforcement action will be taken if you are found to be using high pressure sales tactics or carry out unfair trading in Cumbria” and urging anyone with concerns about unsolicited telephone calls, high pressure selling or doorstep cold callers to contact Trading Standards via Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 08454 040506

Never get forced into signing a contact. This pressure selling generally comes from salespeople who are rewarded on commission sales, ie, the more they sell the more money they make. There are hundreds of good double glazing companies out there who would never dream of forcing a sale, most companies these days are only too willing to provide a written quote, detailing the important factors for you to consider at your leisure.

If you do find yourself signing a contact, you can cancel it the next day (upto 7 days later) but do so in writing and send it recorded delivery so that they cannot argue that you didn’t send the paperwork quickly enough.

Remember consumer rights directive is set to change in the future of cooling off periods with the 7 day period increasing to 14 days, but as windows are bespoke, they may get exempt from the new regulations.

Read the full article here.

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No significant changes for windows as DCLG publish new Part L document

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DCLG has decided against any changes to Doc L requirements, so the changes which were due in July have not materialised for replacement windows, however double glazing, replacements and extensions have been earmarked for the future changes.

See the full report and download your copy of all 51 pages, here

http://www.planningportal.gov.uk/buildingregulations/approveddocuments/partl/approved

 

 

 

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3 get suspended prison sentences after Leicester double glazing firm gets visited by trading standards

price of double glazing

According to a report in the Leicester Mercury local newspapaer by Suzy Gibson, “three members of a window company used personal information stolen from a  rival firm to target – and then rip off – elderly customers”.

According to the report, it seems the trading standards agency sent out 58 questionnaires during their investigations. 25 of the 38 replies they received had complaints to make!

It seems the defendants, Neeraj Naresh Madhvani, Ekaterina Lycett, and Lee Varnum, along with one other Christopher Donne, (who is yet to apprehended) were associated with Premier Home  Improvements (not a limited company at company house) having once worked for  Zenith Staybrite Ltd. Neeraj Madhvani and Christopher Donne set up the company and Lycett and Varnum were the salespeople.

Trading standards seized 2,500 files that contained the personal information from Zenith, taken without consent back in May 2009.

  • There were at least 25 victims,
  • Many elderly losing deposits and
  • Failing to be told about their 7 days cooling off period.
  • They further alleged the company was associated with Zenith to help improve credibility, using foot in the door tactics to overcharge for the work and take large deposits.

In mitigation it was said that the venture was an “ill-fated venture” but “wasn’t a fraud from the outset”, seems Donne was the more experienced and persuasive of the four.  

“One of the bosses, Neeraj Madhvani (26), and his girlfriend, Ekaterina Lycett  (28), along with Lee Varnum (27), all admitted conspiracy to commit fraud by  making false representations, between February and October 2009. They were each given suspended jail sentences.

Lycett and Varnum were involved in “lying and deceiving” customers by using false personal names and trading on the reputation of well-known firms, under  Madhvani’s orders.

Madhvani,  admitted a second fraud offence, by failing to  notify customers of a seven-day cooling off perio and  being responsible for between £11,000 and £15,000 of customers’ lost  deposit, given a 12 month jail sentence, suspended for a year, with 180 hours  of unpaid work.

Lycett,  accountable for approx £6,000  of the losses, was given a nine month jail sentence, suspended for a year, with  120 hours of work whilst Varnum, (the least involved) was accountable for £2,800 of losses”.

Taking 4 years for this to come to court caused “considerable anxiety and stress” it’s claimed, for the defendants with the thought of prison sentences hanging over their heads.

Just a pity they escaped jail because this blights our industry. Regardless of whether it set out to deceive, at some point the personal data of 2,500 people was transferred from one company who owned it, onto another who didn’t. Every day that this company traded, more people experienced a double glazing salesperson that lied about consumer rights, and caused 25 of the 38 people who replied, issues.

However the report also suggests that both Madhvani and Lycett have returned to work for  Zenith, with Madhvani being “remorseful and a different person  now.”

We can find no reference to Premier Home  Improvements being registered with accreditation bodies or competent person schemes, so why are people surprised that they have been found guilty of these charges if they don’t follow good practise?

Good companies aren’t afraid to tell customers about their rights to cancel because it demonstrates there is no pressure to buy. This cooling off period prevents people being forced to sign a contact on the night and helps them get rid of someone, who is outstaying their welcome!

Whilst consumer rights directive is set to change in the future with the 7 day period increasing to 14 days, there may be more confusion as windows are considered “bespoke” and require no cooling off period. There are also severe penalties for not informing homeowners of their rights, including a cancellation period of 365 days!

Anyone concerned with this company or any other that suffer from with rogue traders is advised to contact trading standards on 08454 040506 or trading.standards@leicester.gov.uk

This article relates solely to the company known as Premier Home  Improvements, not any other of similar sounding name.

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