Category Archives: Industry News

What Changed in 2019?

As one year ends and another begins we look at the home improvement marketplace in 2019 and reflect on a tremendously exciting and busy year for QASSS and its schemes HICS, HIES and DGCOS.

Our Achievements

  • We have transformed our complaint handling and ADR service offering industry-leading speed of resolution, reducing the average time to 3.59 days as compared to the industry average of 80 days.
  • Our alternative dispute resolution service (ADR) has been recognised by the 2020 Complaint Handling Awards and we have been shortlisted as finalists in 2 categories – ‘Best Complaint Handling’ and ‘Best Complaint Handling Team of the Year – Initiative’. Plus, we’ve also been nominated for another award with the Top Companies for Customer Service.
  • We continued the process in 2019 of really getting to know our customers much better, either being on the road and meeting them face-to-face chatting to them over the phone.
  • We rebranded and relaunched our HICS, DGCOS and HIES consumer protection websites and marketing material, including the introduction of a new brand ambassador, George Clarke, a passionate advocate for high standards in the home improvement industry.
  • Towards the end of 2019, we also launched our new e-commerce shop to make it easier to order marketing material and register your jobs all in one place.
  • In 2019, we refreshed the QASSS site to showcase our remedial management, alternative dispute resolution and complaints handling services for the home improvement sector.
  • In 2019 we invested internally to support our network. We have brought in senior specialists in the areas of IT, marketing, service delivery, and quality assurance to set up the business for the future as well as supporting our members.
  • We announced new partnerships with finance lenders, finance brokers, manufacturers, investors and West Yorkshire Trading Standards, to provide our customers with new model documentation for 2020 that will help cover you across all bases, from a legal perspective.

Similarly, as we have done, home improvement installers may be reflecting and evaluating the past 12 months to set some goals for the year ahead. As well as personal goals, home improvement installers might be looking at the home improvement industry and setting themselves work-related goals based on the changing marketplace. So, what changed in the home improvement industry in 2019?

Smart Technology

2019 saw big advancements in smart technology. From smart doors to smart sound systems and even smart doorbells, there are now many ways that customers can ‘smartify’ their homes. A survey carried out by OnePoll has revealed that 57% of homes have a smart device of some sort to control their appliances with 45% of those surveyed planning to make their home even smarter. [1]  To find out more about smart homes, check out our blog here.

Sustainability

It is no surprise that 2019 saw a huge increase in homeowners focusing on reducing their energy consumption, not just to save money but also to help the environment.

For example, for glaziers, as the world takes on a more anti-plastic approach in their daily lives, installers may have experienced more questions from customers when considering uPVC for their home and/or an increase in recycled materials being used within the market.

With this trend over 2019, we can expect to see more homeowners looking to incorporate sustainable products within their homes over the next few years, as well as incorporating renewable energy. Market analysis by IAE has forecasted that the surge in renewables is likely to be led by solar PV in the years 2019 – 2024. [2]

DIY Generation

Over the years the DIY generation has steadily gained pace and is predicted to continue in 2020. Due to more homeowners improving their home rather than moving it is no surprise that the rate of DIYers is increasing. A survey carried out by Hiscox shows that just 3% of homeowners opted to improve their existing home instead of moving in 2013 but by 2018 the figure increased to 15%. [3]

[1] https://www.smarthomeweek.co.uk/smart-homes/

[2] iea.org/reports/renewables-2019

[3] https://www.hiscox.co.uk/sites/uk/files/documents/2018-03/Hiscox_renovations_extensions_report_2018.pdf

QASSS shortlisted at both the UK Complaint Handling Awards and The Top 50 Companies for Customer Service Awards

Awards Customer Service

We’re pleased to announce that QASSS (QA Scheme Support Services) that operate DGCOS, HIES and HICS consumer protection schemes have been announced as finalists at both the UK Complaint Handling Awards and The Top 50 Companies for Customer Service Awards.

The UK Complaint Handling Awards is now in its 4th year and continues to be the only awards programme in the UK to recognise the inspiring organisations who are dedicated to effective complaint handling. The UK Complaint Handling Awards have recently been accredited with the Gold Standard in the Awards Trust Mark Scheme from the Independent Awards Standards Council, meeting all 18 criteria to qualify for the highest trust mark possible. QASSS has been nominated as finalists in 2 categories, including ‘Best Complaint Handling’ and ‘Best Complaint Handling Team of the Year – Initiative’, competing alongside companies such as the Co-op, Virgin Money and EE.

The Top 50 Companies for Customer Service programme is one of the biggest customer service and benchmarking programmes in the UK. QASSS has been nominated as a finalist in the ‘special moment’ category for outstanding customer service. The awards gala dinner will take place on Thursday 23rd January at the Hilton Birmingham Metropole, where they will unveil the top performers in each category and present special awards for outstanding service.

For over a decade, the Top 50 Companies for Customer Service Programme has delivered robust cross-industry benchmarking data for many of the UK’s best-known brands, generated by thousands of real interactions with real customers.

Ciarán Harkin, Managing Director at QASSS, commented, “I am delighted that all our efforts of hitting customer service targets have paid off. We are here to help consumers and suppliers across the home improvement, renewables and glazing industry settle their disputes quickly and with impartiality. The fact we are finalists at these awards reflects the fantastic work that our customer service and alternative dispute resolution teams do on a daily basis. “

Charlotte Pilkington, Dispute Resolution Manager at QASSS, commented “I’m genuinely honoured that we have now been shortlisted for two awards this year. As a team, we work incredibly hard to deliver the best customer service we can. Our key goal to improve the speed of resolution was achieved in 2019 which means that we are now industry-leading in terms of speed in the home improvement sector. A big thank you to my dispute resolution team for working so hard and I’m confident that we will raise standards even further this year.”

Greentherm Solutions Joins HICS as an Affiliate Partner

greentherm solutions

Home Improvement Consumer Protection Scheme (HICS) have accepted Greentherm Solutions onto their Affiliate Partner Scheme as the UK’s first Icynene spray-foam technology distributor.

Greentherm Solutions specialise in spray applied insulation, using Icynene high-performance spray-foam technology, a system originally developed in Canada.

Paddy Leighton, Director of Greentherm Solutions, commented,

Icynene is a modern alternative to traditional forms of insulation, delivering quality and innovation in home insulation. We were keen to work with HICS, a highly reputable consumer protection scheme who can offer end to end complete consumer protection.”

Paddy continued,

Traditional forms of insulation are relatively inefficient and can lead to cold bridging (a weak spot in the insulation) and localised condensation and dampness. Icynene, endorsed by the Energy Saving Trust, is a fully breathable, environmentally friendly open-cell spray foam insulation that delivers up to 50% greater energy savings when compared to other home insulation products and has the highest level of vapour resistivity of any soft foam on the market.”

Ciarán Harkin, Managing Director of HICS, commented,

“We are very excited to have Greentherm Solutions on board as a HICS Affiliate Partner. HICS is all about protecting consumers and giving them trust, confidence and peace of mind. We welcome partnerships with companies such as Greentherm Solutions who can deliver innovative products and highly-trained installers to help positively impact the home insulation market.”

 

Notes:

Who are Greentherm Solutions Ltd?

Greentherm Solutions Limited are distributors for Icynene. Greentherm Solutions Directors have over 30 years’ experience each in the construction industry. They are the sole distributor of the Icynene range of spray-foam insulation products to the UK market. Greentherm has a network of accredited contractors in the British Isles. Icynene has achieved BBA, ETA and BDA approvals and certifications together with a host of other approvals and recommendations.

Who is HICS?

Home Improvement Consumer Protection Scheme (HICS) is a consumer protection organisation covering a range of installations within the home improvement sector. HICS ensures that consumers are dealt with professionally, courteously and sympathetically. Any products installed by HICS Members must be fit for purpose, installed professionally and come with comprehensive guarantees which are covered by specialist insurance providing consumers with a high level of protection. HICS is supported and endorsed by consumer champions Nick Ross and George Clarke.

HICS also believes that consumers should have free access to robust dispute resolution and therefore provides consumers with free Mediation and free independent inspections to assist with installation or product malfunctions (at HICS’ discretion).

Photography From Left to Right: Ciarán Harkin (HICS), Paddy Leighton (Greentherm Solutions), Laura Holmes (HICS)

Apple Panels Enter into Creditors Voluntary Liquidation

Apple Panel in Liquidation

It was announced on Wednesday 19th December 2018, that Apple Panels Ltd is beginning the process to enter into Creditors Voluntary Liquidation (CVL). They will cease to trade with immediate effect.

We understand this is unwelcome news, especially at this time of year.

Apple has stated on their website that Quantuma LLP will be handling the CVL, and they may be able to provide further information and can be contacted 02380 336464.

Update of 25/01/2019 from Quantuma LLP:

“I would advise that a sale of the business and assets of the Company, including the customer contracts, was completed on 23 January 2019. The purchaser is County Windows (Winchester) Limited.

County Windows (Winchester) Limited will work to honour as many of the contracts wherever possible.

If you have been contacted by any other party, purporting to have taken over the business of Apple Panels Limited or Apple Home Improvements, please be advised that this is not correct and they are not acting with authority of the Joint Administrators (Simon Campbell and Andrew Watling).”

Below is the statement on the Apple Panels Ltd website:

Apple Panels Ltd are sorry to announce that due to the current economic climate and a number of exceptional issues that have arisen during trading over the last 18 months the Director is taking steps to place the Company into Liquidation (Creditors Voluntary Liquidation) and will cease trading with immediate effect.

We appreciate that this will, unfortunately, result in a number of staff, sub-contractors, customers and suppliers being let down at what can be a difficult time of year. For customers who have queries in regard to the warranty on their installations, or have questions concerning a current contract, we recommend you contact either the Independent Insurance Backed Guarantee company (if this was included with the purchase of your contract) or the finance lender if Apple introduced you to the lender.

We will await more information regarding this matter and update this blog accordingly. There are still many scenarios which could impact this situation and we await further information. It is incredibly disappointing to have to publish this statement, especially at such a sensitive time of the year. We hope to provide more clarity in the coming weeks and thank you in advance for your patience in this matter.

More information on your statutory rights:

Chargeback

If you have paid a deposit on your full works in the last 120 days and your merchant has ceased to trade, you can ask your card provider to try and claw back the money you’ve paid via a Chargeback.
A chargeback is not enshrined in law, it is a part of the Scheme Rules that participating banks subscribe to. We recommend you give your bank a call to discuss this option. Note: there does need to be money in the merchants account for the clawback to go ahead.

Finance

If you purchased your windows/doors/conservatory through a finance lender (not via a personal loan you have arranged), and you have an issue with the product or workmanship, then under Section 75 of the 1974 Consumer Credit Act (CCA) you are entitled to claim directly via your finance lender.
If you feel you were mis-sold and you have substantive evidence to prove grounds of mis-selling, you can make a claim via your finance lender under Section 56 of the 1974 Consumer Credit Act.

Please check your paperwork for your specific finance lender and contact them directly.

For more information on your rights please take a look at:
https://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/regulation/section-75-of-the-consumer-credit-act