This weekend was all about fireworks and bonfires, but over the last few weeks there is something else that has been getting burnt – Government organisations. Following the Government Spending Review, both the Office Of Fair Trading and Consumer Direct have been in flames.
According to this article in the Financial Times<http://www.ft.com/home/uk>, the Office of Fair Trading <http://oft.gov.uk/> and the Competition Commission <http://www.competition-commission.org.uk/> will merge, aiming to reduce costs and speed up investigations. The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) is also being stripped of its consumer protection role, with local trading standards officers taking on more responsibility, according to this blog.
In addition, Consumer Direct<http://www.consumerdirect.gov.uk/>, a Government-funded call centre providing basic consumer advice in the UK, will be taken over by the Citizens’ Advice<https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/> bureau ( a charity organisation) and Trading Standards.
So what does all this have to do with window installation you might ask?
Well, it is Trading Standards that are ultimately responsible for dealing with ‘Rogue Traders’ or ‘cowboys’. In fact, more than 106,000 complaints about rogue traders are logged every year, so this is already an important part of what Trading Standards do. The problem is that with the loss of some of the other Government organisations, Trading Standards are likely to be busier than ever. In fact, Trading standards officers had campaigned for the Consumer Direct helpline in the first place, so they could concentrate on investigating and prosecuting rogue traders.
So with the loss of Consumer Direct, and the merging of the Office of Fair Trading, the places you can go for help with a cowboy builder are diminished, and the remaining organisations may be more stretched. So obviously, more than ever it will be better if you don’t end up with a cowboy builder in the first place when getting your windows installed (Think Cowboy Builders on Channel 5 -<http://www.five.tv/shows/cowboy-builders> I love that programme!).
And this is where FENSA<http://www.fensa.org.uk/> can help. If you go to the FENSA website, you can find a FENSA Fitter in your area. This means that you know the builder is registered with FENSA, and they independently assess the companies registered with them, so you don’t have to! You minimise any risks of getting your windows done, and get a certificate so you know the work complies with current building regulations. It is a no brainer really!