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The Glass and Glazing Federation (GGF) is a trade association representing companies who make, supply or fit, glass and glass related products.
This includes replacement windows, Energy Efficient Windows, doors, conservatories, hardware for these products, and all aspects of glass, including double glazed units, safety glazing, fire resistant glass, emergency glazing, decorative glass, secondary glazing, and energy saving and environmental treatments for existing glazing.
Consumer protection is a key role of the GGF. All GGF members are vetted, must carry out their work to specified standards, are required to protect consumers deposits and must offer independent arbitration should the need arise.
Specific methods of consumer protection are explained in further detail below.
The Deposit Indemnity Scheme (DIS) was established more than 20 years ago, in order to give consumers real protection for the deposits they paid. Every GGF member that takes a deposit is a member of the DIS, and it is open to private individuals who have entered into a direct contract with a GGF member company.
Should the GGF member go out of business prior to installing the purchased products, the deposit the purchaser will be covered by the DIS up to the scheme's limit of £3000 or 25% of the final contract cost, whichever is the lower.
The customer will simply need to provide a copy of the contract, and proof that a deposit has been paid, and when the DIS has confirmed the details the GGF will issue a voucher for an amount either equal to the deposit, or less if the total would exceed the limit of the scheme.
The voucher will be provided along with a list of all other GGF members in the region who can carry out that work, and when the customer has selected an alternative company, and confirmed this with a letter of assignment, this company will accept the voucher as nominal payment towards the work.
When the work has been carried out the GGF member will then submit the voucher, along with a certificate of completion, to the GGF and the company will received the money due from the DIS.
The DIS provides protection for consumers for the period between the deposit being taken and the work being begun. Once the work has begun, protection is available to consumers in the form of an Insurance Backed Guarantee.
Since the introduction of FENSA in 2002, all GGF members registered with the competent person scheme must, at least, offer the consumer the option of taking out an Insurance Backed Guarantee (IBG). An IBG mirrors the existing guarantee should the installation company cease to trade following the completion of a contract and a fault arise on the installation. A typical policy will provide cover for any material used, workmanship through out the period of installation and transfer of ownership if the property is sold.
Part of the GGF's emphasis upon consumer protection is the promotion of, and rigorous adherence to, high standards amongst its members.
GGF members must abide by GGF's Code of Good Practice, which stipulates standards for everything from the behavior of salespeople in a customer's house while discussing a potential sale, to the quality of the final installation. Members must meet all European and British standards, and where none exist they must meet the criteria of GGF data sheets that develop into standards through a committee structure.
All members must also work to the technical standards specified in the GGF Glazing Manual.
Despite the best efforts of the GGF and its members to ensure that transactions with customers are operated to the highest standards, there will always be disputes in an industry of its size. In order to offer consumers valuable assistance with dispute resolution, the GGF operates a free Conciliation Service.
Customers and members are encouraged to resolve their problems directly, and the majority of disputes do not require the intervention of the Conciliation Scheme.
Alternative methods of dispute resolution available to customers and members include inspections carried out by the GGF to resolve matters without a need for costly litigation, or a low cost arbitration process through the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators.
However, where the GGF is satisfied that there has been an error, or a suggestion of an error, on the part of one of its members, it will invoke its Conciliation Service.
The Service is correspondence-based in order to remove any potential ambiguity, and the process begins with the customer demonstrating the agreement that is under dispute, and providing a brief letter of explanation, a template of which can be downloaded from the GGF website. Where possible, the customer is also asked to provide a list of the alleged defects in the work they have paid for.
The GGF then proceeds to contact the member company directly to discuss its fulfillment of the terms of the contract. The Service was created to assist customers and members in a fair and unbiased way, and as such the GGF will always give an honest and unbiased appraisal of the facts of a dispute.
The GGF provides valuable protection for consumers from beginning to end of any dispute resolution.