In this article we take a look at the resolution procedure in place at NICEIC and ELECSA on the rare occasion when something doesn’t quite go to plan.
NICEIC and ELECSA represent more than 34,000 registered businesses across the UK. It has been assessing the technical competence of contractors for more than 60 years and ensuring installation work is carried out to the highest standards.
NICEIC and ELECSA contractors are responsible for around 79% of all domestic work carried out in the UK. They carry out more than 1 million pieces of notifiable domestic work and over 1.5 million commercial installations each year.
With such a high volume of work being undertaken it is inevitable there will be instances where work doesn’t quite go as planned. Thankfully, such cases are very rare. Less than 0.2% of all work carried out results in a complaint being made.
However, when an issue is raised there are procedures in place to find a successful resolution to protect not only consumers, but contractors also.
Types of complaint
NICEIC and ELECSA registered contractors are assessed on their ability to carry out work in line with BS7671. When it comes to investigating complaints we can only look at work that falls under this.
In the past we’ve had to deal with complaints about broken toilet seats, muddy footprints and improper language. While we’ve helped out on these occasions there is a limit to the scope and type of complaint we can get involved with and around 20% of all complaints are generally out of scope. NICEIC/ELECSA would never get involved in any financial disputes, for instance.
Our first priority when a property owner comes to us with a complaint is to uncover the level of the problem. If we believe there’s an emergency or they’ve reported a shock or smell of burning, then we can appoint a contractor to attend as soon as possible to make the installation safe.
In non-emergency cases we would take down all of the details and get in touch with the contractor involved. We aim to speak to the contractor within 48 hours of the initial query.
In the majority of cases (over 60% of all complaints) an issue arises due to a simple breakdown in communication between the consumer and the contractor. With a little mediation, we can get both parties to agree a way forward. This usually helps resolve the matter to a satisfactory conclusion.
If mediation continues to be a problem for both parties then we can arrange for a site inspection for the consumer’s peace of mind and to support the contractor who often feels they’ve been unfairly treated by the consumer.
For a site inspection one of our lead engineers will visit the property and carry out a report. We always encourage the contractor to attend and for the consumer to allow them to return, however, this may not always be possible. Consumers may feel uncomfortable with the contractor they employed and in this situation we’ll liaise with the contractor to see if they’re willing for us to appoint a third party and report back to them our findings, where there may or may not be remedial works required. This works for all parties.
A report is then completed and issued to both parties. If remedial work is required, then the contractor will be expected to return and complete it or we can appoint a third party and pass the cost on to the contractor. The role of the Customer Relations Team is very much one of negotiation/mediation and driving things forward to resolution.
Once a resolution has been reached, we’ll undertake an internal review of the complaint to determine if any further action is required. This may be in the form of further education for the contractor, an increased assessment regime or a discussion with their Area Engineer.
We prefer to work with our registered contractors to ensure that there is continuous improvement to the service that they and we provide. If we feel there has been a sufficient breach of the regulations (sub-standard work) or we feel our own scheme rules have been breached (quality of service provided) then we would look to de-register that company.
If the company is de-registered from NICEIC/ELECSA then we remove them from our register and they’re no longer entitled to use our logo. We also inform all other CPS operators of our decision so as to prevent contractors’ scheme hopping.
What is the Platinum Promise?
All customers of NICEIC and ELECSA registered contractors are covered by our Platinum Promise which provides assurances to our registrants’ customers that any work that hasn’t been carried out in compliance with BS7671 Building Regulations will be rectified.
It lasts for six years from the date of work completion, covers up to a limit of £25,000 for any one installation and provides consumers with extra peace of mind.
Our annual visits aren’t just an assessment of technical competence as we also use the visit to go through procedures such as official complaints process and records, insurances and appropriate working standards. It is a rounded assessment of the entire business to ensure technical ability and consumer welfare are both adequately acquainted for.
We also operate regional Tech Talks and our north and south ‘Live’ events to offer up-to-date industry information, and topics for conversation to ensure that all of our contractors are working to the highest standards. We also just delivered the industry’s first cinema event (see the review on page 41) which saw us present the latest regulations to more than 6,000 contractors in one day
In addition to complaints from consumers, we receive calls from our contractors who have discovered unsafe work which has been completed by others. In this instance we’ll always expect them to make sure that the installation is safe, particularly if the reported issue is classed as a code C1. If there’s sufficient evidence we may still be able to pursue a complaint on behalf of the consumer.
How important is the resolution process?
It is vital. A lot of cases are simply mis-communication and we act as a mediator, but it is important that consumers know they have somewhere to turn to if they need help or advice. It is also important for the contractor and the industry as a whole.
Ultimately we want to drive standards up across the board!