Consumer Rights Bill sparks debate

bisA recent Glass and Glazing Federation (GGF) meeting has sparked debate with regard to impact of the forthcoming Consumer Rights Bill – due to be enforced in Autumn 2014 – on the fenestration industry.

At the event, the first joint GGF Conservatory Association and Window and Door meeting of 2014, held in Solihull, Adam Gray and Laura Harbidge from BIS (Department for Business Innovation and Skills) presented the Bill’s contents and how the window, door and conservatory industry will be affected.

The Bill will introduce an ‘early right to reject’ for goods – giving consumers the right to reject a faulty product within 30 days and have a full refund, or agree to a repair or replacement.

Once the repair or replacement is given, the consumer has the remainder of the 30 days, or at least seven days, to decide if the fault has been resolved. If the fault is not resolved, the consumer can reject the goods again (known as the ‘final right to reject’) and have either a full refund, or accept the faulty goods but with a price reduction.

A fault which is a latent defect can be complained about within six years of delivery (five years in Scotland).

As the Bill is written, a consumer could, for example, reject all 10 installed windows for a fault on one, and get a full refund, as long as they make the windows ‘available’ to the trader. Debate ensued amongst GGF members as to whether a trader would spend the cost and time in removing windows that could not be used elsewhere.

The GGF is arguing that the Bill has not fully considered the implications for the glazing industry. For example, the depreciation of the value 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 for goods and services. The GGF believes that this makes the Bill confusing and leaves much of its content ‘down to interpretation’.

As windows, doors and conservatories are fixed to a building, GGF members felt there should be a separate chapter for building and home improvement work within the Bill, to distinguish these goods from goods such as TVs and toasters.

Andrew Glover of West Yorkshire Windows and chairman of the GGF Window and Door Group, 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, of Anglian Home Improvements, added: “Anglian Home Impro

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