If ever there was a time that proves comprehensive protection for consumers isn’t just a ‘nice to have’, it’s a ‘must have’ for the sake of the industry’s reputation, it’s now.
With the demise of SafeGlaze UK, the industry should debate its stance on providing robust consumer protection. And the policing of this. Safeglaze has potentially left thousands of homeowners with unfulfilled orders, missing deposits, and little comeback in terms of repair works or genuine underwritten guarantees. For example, it appears many consumers were not actually registered by Safeglaze with their IBG provider. Also, deposit protection isn’t mandatory in this sector, so many consumers lose out. At the time of writing, Warmseal is reported to have secured the £5.5m order book to fulfil orders of more than 2,000 customers. It is our understanding that existing guarantees are not provided for within the deal with the liquidator. So, what will happen to those consumers left without a guarantee or protection? This type of situation (which often goes unreported or under the radar) discredits our industry and the honourable, principled people who work within it.
Our thoughts are of course with the 132 employees who lost their jobs at Safeglaze and sincerely hope they soon find rewarding work. Homeowners, who are often affected in these circumstances, to varying degrees, are particularly close to our hearts at DGCOS. It’s the very foundation of our organisation – to offer genuine protection to consumers with no ifs, buts or maybes. No loop holes that leave homeowners exposed to financial loss. Before the Warmseal deal was done we had already taken calls from people looking for answers and advice and will continue to be on hand for customers who still aren’t sure where they stand. Please see our advice piece at https://www.dgcos.org.uk/news/safeglaze-uk-in-administration. But of course, if there is no deposit protection or underwritten guarantee in place (often referred to as an IBG), or if there is an IBG in place with limited scope or unfair exclusions, the homeowner is set to lose out.
It might be easy to think this is someone else’s problem. But it isn’t. It’s a tough lesson to learn for consumers and we shouldn’t bury our heads in the sand. If you work in the glazing sector it is your problem, by association. There is no doubt that in the wake of this recent sizeable liquidation, consumers will become even more aware of the small print and what they are really buying. This heightened fear factor can affect us all. Once again, our industry is under scrutiny and we need something concrete in place to reassure concerned consumers and journalists.
DGCOS will be writing to the other leaders in the sector, particularly of trade bodies, Competent Persons Schemes and IBG providers and the Secretary Of State at the Ministry for Housing Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) [the ministry responsible for legislation in the glazing sector] to discuss how the sector can realistically and affordably provide redress for all consumers. It is possible.
DGCOS installer members are able to reassure their customers and guarantee hand on heart, that their customers will be protected should the worst happen. With over 1 million doors and windows in UK homes currently protected by DGCOS since 2010, professional installers can always turn to us to protect their business, their customers and their reputations. Peace of Mind cannot be underestimated, especially at times like these when these issues are brought to the fore.
Tony Pickup, founder,
Double Glazing & Conservatory Ombudsman Scheme