Tackling Rogues

Tackling Rogues 2018Tackling Rogues 2018

As an organisation our purpose is to promote the safe and effective use of solid fuels, biomass and related technologies. We want to promote the use of professional installers and root out rogue tradesmen for our industry and we really want to hear from about bad installations that you come across. We have a number of routes to reporting this.

HETAS Complaints Process

HETAS is concerned with the safety, technical standard and compliance to Building Regulations of the work carried out by you, our registrants. As installers you are required to undertake specific training and be routinely monitored to be registered with HETAS. This helps us monitor that you are carrying out safe and compliant installations.

We do however understand that complaints can arise from time to time. Where HETAS investigate a complaint, we are aiming to establish whether the registrant is responsible for leaving a safety or Building Regulations defect and if so, to get that rectified by the registrant concerned.

Consumers are able to make complaints to HETAS within a two year time frame from the original installation. However, there are instances where HETAS can extend this two year policy should there be justifiable reasons to do so.

The HETAS Technical Area has supporting documents that can be used by our registrants to make the handling of complaints, checklists and contract examples. It is a requirement of HETAS registration that business have in place systems to ensure where a complaint is received there is a process to receive, record and deal with the complaint. See Conditions of Registration 1.8. Registered Business must ensure they keep records of complaints received for at least six years.

Whistleblowing

Ultimately HETAS wants to hear from customers where there are instances of non-compliance so we can fully investigate and support them in having an installation rectified or brought up to the expected standard. There are instances where this might not be possible and our whistleblowing policy might be more suitable. Running for a number of years, this process has enabled HETAS to investigate issues with both registrants and where appropriate non-registrants who aren’t meeting the high standards expected in our industry. The whistleblowing process is anonymous, open to registered installers, consumers and non-registered installers to report and has proven successful in gathering information for HETAS to tackle non-compliance. Get in touch with the team on 01684 278170 or via our website at info@HETAS.co.uk if you want to discuss this process in more detail.

Consumer Rights Act 2015

The Consumer Rights Act has minimum standards that apply to most contracts between a business and customer. Customers generally have up to 6 years from provision of a product or service in which to make a claim. HETAS with support from Gloucestershire Trading Standards (via our Primary Authority partnership) provided guidance in Technical Bulletin #6 for our registrants on customer contracts and The Consumer Rights Act. Visit the HETAS Technical Area to download the guidance. Further guidance is available in the Technical Area from HETAS and Which Trusted Traders.

Enforcement

Taking enforcement action applies to registrants who do not meet the standards required for registration with HETAS. A number of businesses have been suspended and removed from the registration scheme last year and we always want to know about installers who aren’t complying with standards.

Misleading Claims

HETAS always wants to hear about businesses who falsely claim to be HETAS registered or appear to be misusing the HETAS brand. As a Primary Authority HETAS works in partnership with Gloucestershire Trading Standards and has successfully supported Trading Standards nationally in enforcement through the courts. Consumer protection regulations specifically ban businesses from displaying any quality mark or equivalent they are not accredited for, or from giving deceptive information. Please get in touch with our team with any concerns you might have.

There are a number of ways you can contact the team:

Tel: 01684 278170

Email: info@hetas.co.uk

Which? Trusted Traders examines the new Consumer Rights Act 2015

Which? Trusted Trader LogoThe Consumer Rights Act became law on 1 October 2015 and simplified, strengthened and modernised UK consumer legislation. The new legislation consolidates three big pieces of consumer law – the Sale of Goods Act, the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations and the Supply of Goods and Services Act. Whilst some of the language hasn’t changed that much, the remedies have, so let’s drill down to what the changes mean and how they will affect those biomass and solid fuel heating appliances, fuels and services industry.

Firstly goods, as an installer or service professional you have to ensure that these are:

  • of satisfactory quality
  • fit for any particular purpose
  • must match descriptions or samples
  • be correctly installed (where agreed as part of the contract).

Where goods don’t meet the above the consumer will now have a tiered remedy system that includes:

  • A 30 day short-term right to reject where a full refund can be sought and the refund must be given within 14 days of it being agreed (this right does not apply to faulty installations).
  • If the consumer chooses not to exercise the above right or is outside of the 30 days then they are entitled to claim for a repair or replacement, but the installer or tradesperson will only be given one opportunity to repair the goods, after that if the goods are still faulty then they can be rejected.
  • If a repair or replacement is not available, for example because an item is no longer in stock, then the consumer has the final right to reject the goods.
  • If the faulty goods caused additional damage to persons or property then there is a right to additional compensation.

As for evidence, if the consumer uses the short-term right to reject option they must demonstrate that the goods are faulty. Within six months the consumer also has the right to ask for a repair, replacement, price reduction or even the final right to reject faulty goods and the law assumes that the goods were faulty at the time of delivery. After six months the consumer must prove the goods were faulty at the time of purchase, this is known as the ‘reverse burden of proof’.

 

So, what about services?

Again the language is familiar, as a professional in your industry you must ensure the job must is carried out with reasonable care and skill. Anything written or verbally agreed with the consumer is binding. If no price was agreed beforehand, then only a reasonable price can be charged. Likewise, if no specific time for completion was agreed then you are obliged to carry it out within a reasonable time period.

The main change here is the remedy, consumers will have the right to a ‘repeat performance’ if the job isn’t done correctly the first time, or they can ask for a price reduction. Whilst, you the tradesperson or business, can make repeated attempts at getting the job done correctly you have to ensure it doesn’t cause significant inconvenience to the customer. If the job cannot be carried out satisfactorily then the customer can seek a price reduction that leads to a full refund.

Lastly, unfair terms, previously business to consumer contracts were subject to the old Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999 and this included all those items of small print in consumer contracts. The new Act has replaced them with a requirement for terms and contract notices to be fair making it easier for consumers to challenge hidden fees and charges.

A term is unfair if ‘contrary to the requirement of good faith, it causes a significant imbalance in the parties’ rights and obligations under the contract to the detriment of the consumer’. In other words if what you say is all in your favour and not the consumer’s then it will probably be regarded as unfair.

The new Consumer Rights Act details a blacklist of terms that will always be unfair and a ‘grey list’ that highlights terms that may be potentially unfair. The grey list is a list of terms where a suspicion of unfairness arises if a term has the object or effect of weighting terms unfairly against the consumer.

Stephen McCluskey, Managing Director at Which? Trusted Traders, said:

“Consumer law was crying out to be brought up to date to cope with the requirements and demands of today’s consumers. Getting a refund or repair and understanding contracts should now all be much simpler.

“Business and traders must ensure their teams are aware of the changes so they’re not caught out short-changing their customers or breaking the law.”

To support the new legislation HETAS members endorsed by Which? Trusted Traders will receive a free guide to the Consumer Rights Act 2015 or you can visit: www.which.co.uk/

For more information on Which? Trusted Traders please visit: www.hetas.co.uk/which-trusted-traders or call 020 3603 5701

The Consumer Rights Act

The Consumer Rights Act

The Consumer Rights ActBusinesses must adapt to the changes by reviewing their returns and complaints policies, checking their terms and conditions are compliant and training staff to comply with The Consumer Rights Act.

The Consumer Rights Act came into force on the 1 October 2015 and replaces a number of laws with regard to business-to-consumer transactions, including the Sale of Goods Act 1979 and the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982. click here to view more information.

Alternative Dispute Resolution

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) is an option all businesses can benefit from when a dispute cannot be settled directly with the consumer. This covers a range of ways for settling a dispute between a consumer and a trader without taking legal action. ADR options (such as arbitration or mediation) can often be faster and better than going to court.  Approved ADR bodies for the purposes of the Alternative Dispute Resolution for Consumer Disputes (Competent Authorities and Information) Regulations 2015 can be found on the Chartered Trading Standards Institute website by clicking here. One benefit of being a Which? Trusted trader is access to Dispute Resolution Ombudsman, an ADR body. Discounted membership is available until the end of this year. Find out more at https://www.hetas.co.uk/which-trusted-traders.