When a homeowner signs a contract and pays their deposit, they’re entitled to expect a professional job, completed on time, and to a specification that was agreed in the contract. This is their home, and they have a right to want things done correctly. Most homeowners understand that things don’t always go to plan, which unfortunately results in a problem that they want to be resolved to their satisfaction.
If a consumer encounters a problem and is unable to resolve their complaint directly with the installer from whom they made their purchase, this is where the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) mechanism can prove invaluable.
What is Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)?
Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) refers to schemes that are available to help complainants resolve their contractual dispute outside court. If the parties involved in a dispute are unable to settle their differences, ADR offers a quicker and cheaper means of resolving that dispute.
Common forms of ADR are:
- mediation, where an independent third party helps the disputing parties to come to a mutually acceptable outcome.
- arbitration, where an independent third party considers the facts and takes a decision that’s often binding on one or both parties.
- conciliation, where parties to a dispute use a conciliator, who meets with the parties separately and together in an attempt to resolve their differences.
Does every business offer ADR?
Providing Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) became UK law from 1st October 2015 for all businesses that sell to consumers. For the glazing sector this means that where an installer has exhausted its Complaints Procedure and the matter remains in dispute, it is legally compelled to give the consumer the contact details of an approved glazing sector ADR service to progress the complaint to arbitration.
Whilst ADR outcomes are not legally binding, it is a preventative step to allow an independent third party an attempt to mediate a compromise agreement between the two parties. If this cannot be agreed by both parties, the ADR process will be escalated to an independent Ombudsman. Who’s ruling is legally binding for the installer.
In many other sectors, businesses can choose to use ADR, and this is often linked to membership of a trade association. DGCOS offers installers membership to a fully comprehensive consumer protection scheme that offers complete peace of mind for their consumers if they have complaints during the whole guarantee period, regardless of if the installer is trading or not.
As you can imagine, ADR and access to an independent Ombudsman can become costly, we recommend you look for an installer where this is free to the consumer and there are no associated costs.
What is The Double Glazing & Conservatory Ombudsman Scheme (DGCOS)?
DGCOS is a consumer protection organisation that ensures consumers are protected when using a DGCOS accredited member. DGCOS is the only comprehensive consumer protection organisations operating within the double-glazing sector and the only scheme to give consumers an advanced level of protection and confidence. DGCOS’s advice to consumers is completely free of charge.
Benefits of Using a DGCOS Installer
- Our members have gone through a rigorous vetting procedure before becoming a DGCOS accredited installer.
- Every consumer will receive Free Deposit Protection, Free Stage Payment Protection and a Free Insurance Backed Guarantee.
- Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) Approved Alternative Dispute Resolution Service.
- Every consumer will have access to Free Mediation to help fully resolve any disputes and Free Independent Inspections to assist with installation or product malfunctions (at DGCOS discretion).
- Every consumer will have Free access to the Ombudsman in order to conclude disputes without incurring legal fee or costs and a Compensation Fund to ensure you’re never left disadvantaged.
How DGCOS successfully operates its Alternative Dispute Resolution
We provide world-class dispute resolution services for consumers and members of our schemes. Our three-stage process includes working with the consumer and the company to resolve complaints informally.
Stage one: It is important to allow the DGCOS member to rectify the problem, and all complaints should be addressed in writing directly to the company. You should allow the member 14 days to respond before taking further action.
Stage two: If you remain dissatisfied, you can contact DGCOS to register your complaint. DGCOS will action your complaint and your case may be passed to the complaints department for investigation.
Stage three: If necessary, mediation. In the unlikely event that mediation fails, you can refer your complaint to the Ombudsman for legal redress.
The success of this service is in the escalation rate to the Ombudsman (when the DRO’s reach an impasse). Across our group, we have protected over 400,000 consumers with as little as 2/3 cases a year being escalated passed out Dispute Resolution Team.
DGCOS’s Dispute Resolution Officers (DRO)
DGCOS’s Dispute Resolution Officers (DRO) are highly trained, highly skilled and vastly experienced to listen and to provide a firm and
Charlotte Pilkington, DGCOS Dispute Resolution Manager, comments: “We have the ability to understand situations from both sides, we have the knowledge and experience to be able to help customer and installer compromise on a fair outcome. Sometimes all you need is a third party with no connection to either side, to listen and give their view without emotion. It can be difficult when you are in the thick of it, like the consumer/installation companies we deal with, as it is hard for them to put history to one side. But with our help, we can provide a reasonable and fair resolution, which ends their dispute and allows both parties to move forward.”
Outcomes for both parties
For installers: less management time wasted, and less money spent. But the most valuable benefit of all is that the projects were completed without public complaints or any loss of reputation.
For consumers: greater confidence to place orders with a DGCOS member and complete peace of mind if any problems occur or the company goes out of business.
For more information, please visit us at www.dgcos.org.uk.