Best double glazing companies: How to buy double glazing Your rights when buying double glazing
When you buy double glazing, there are a number of laws in place to protect you right from the moment you sign a contract. This guide explains your rights and what to do if you need to complain about your windows or double glazing installation company.
Remember, you're far less likely to experience problems if you choose a company that has got good reviews and has been established for 10 years or more. Our double glazing company reviews will help you find the right option for you.
Double glazing contracts
Your rights when buying double glazing will depend on whether you buy windows that have been made to measure for your home, or are a ‘standard size’.
Under the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013, you have to be given a minimum of 14-days as a cooling-off period. However, this only applies if you enter into a contract away from the trader's premises (e.g. in your own home, online, fax or post).
In addition there won’t be an automatic right to cancel where the windows are to be made to measure and/or custom made to your specific requirements and chosen options, which is likely to equate to a lot of double glazing purchases.
On the occasions where your supplier may fit a ‘standard size’ window (e.g. where the window is to be fitted into an extension), you have the right to cancel within 14 days from the date of delivery. If you want the windows to be installed within this 14-day cooling-off period, the installer will normally ask you for your express request to do this. But remember - if you exercise this request, you will be responsible for paying the trader for any services that they complete up to the point that you actually cancel the contract and the difference between the contractual price of the windows and any diminished value after removal. You will also be responsible for the cost of removing the windows.
If you exercise your right to cancel the windows, any finance agreement that the double glazing company has arranged for you will also automatically end.
In any case, before a trader can enter into a contract with you they must give you information about the terms of the contract and, if a right to cancel exists, your cancellation rights and a cancellation form. Where you enter into the contract away from the trader’s premises this information must be given on paper unless the consumer agrees to another ‘durable medium’, such as an email or text message.
The trader must also provide a copy of the signed contract (or confirmation of the contract) before or at the same time that the windows are delivered and before the performance of any services commences. For online contracts the information can be given online before the consumer places the order but must be confirmed in a durable medium no later than when the windows are delivered and before services commence.
Always remember that if you make the contract at the trader’s premises you have no legal right to cancel. But you should still check the contract to see whether the trader has given you any right to cancel and, if so, whether you would forfeit any money.
If you have any doubts about your rights, speak to one of our Which? Legal experts.
Problems with double glazing
In the unfortunate event that something goes wrong during or after your window installation, there are laws in place to protect you.
Under the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982, any double glazing installation should:
- be done using ‘reasonable care and skill’
- the windows should be made with materials that are ‘of satisfactory quality’ and ‘fit for their purpose’
- be ‘as described’ - eg what you ordered.
If the double glazing installer doesn’t meet the conditions above, it has breached its contract and you have the right to have the windows repaired or replaced. The double glazing company can decide which of these it is prepared to do, based on what's cheaper.
Also note that if a double glazing company uses subcontractors, it is responsible for its subcontractors' actions and standards of work. So if subcontractors fail to use reasonable care and skill or appropriate materials, the double glazing company itself must arrange to have the problems fixed, and any claim you have will be against the double glazing company, not the subcontractors.
You can also use our template letters if you need to write to your double glazing company about a problem you've encountered. See our letter to complain about builders in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and also our letter to complain about builders in Scotland.
The double glazing company has to make sure that any repair or replacement is carried out ‘within a reasonable time but without causing significant inconvenience’.
How to resolve problems with a double glazing company
1. Act quickly: as soon as you know there is a problem, contact the double glazing installer. If you phone, follow up the conversation with a letter. Confirm the problem and state what the double glazing installer agreed it would do and by when. See our letter templates above.
2. Agree a final date: if the double glazing installer doesn't sort out the problems when it said it would, contact the installer again. Agree a final date by which the work must be completed.
3. Final ultimatum: if the final deadline passes or the double glazing installer has done nothing to fix the problem, give the installer a final ultimatum. Say that if it doesn’t fix the problem within a short deadline, you will get someone else to do it and claim back the cost from the installer - by taking it to court if necessary.
4. Evidence of problems: if the double glazing installer still doesn't respond or refuses to do the work, get quotes for fixing the problem from other glazing installers. But before they start work, make sure you have a report of the problems, including photographs where necessary. You will need this as evidence if you claim against the original double glazer in court.
5. Court action: when the new double glazing installer has completed the work, write to the original double glazer claiming the money you have had to spend, and explaining exactly what work was done. If it does not pay up, you will have to start court proceedings to claim back the money. If the amount involved is less than the small claims limit (£10,000 in England and Wales and £3,000 in Scotland and Northern Ireland), you will be able to use the small claims court. For more information, read our guide to the small claims court.
Competent Persons Scheme and double glazing conciliation
There are a number of organisations that run Competent Persons Schemes, such as Fensa, BM Trada, BSI and Napit. To be part of one of these schemes traders will need to go through a vetting process to check they are 'competent', so it's worth looking for someone that is part of one of these scheme. Being a member of one of these schemes also means a trader can sign off work that needs to meet Building Regulations themselves.
There are also third-party services available to help resolve problems.
The Glass and Glazing Federation (GGF) offers a free conciliation service if you're using one of its members and Fensa have a complaints process if you are unable to resolve issues with their member directly.
There is also the Double Glazing and Conservatory Quality Assurance Ombudsman Scheme (DGCOS), which has a free consumer advice line and free access to The Ombudsman.
If a conciliation process fails to resolve issues, The Glazing Arbitration Scheme (formally known as the Glazing Ombudsman Scheme) will look to take the case to arbitration, which is a form of dispute resolution outside of the courts. But you can only apply for this if your trader is a GGF or Fensa member and you have been through their conciliation or complaints process.
Extra protection if you pay by credit card
Under the Consumer Credit Act 1974, a credit company is equally liable with the double glazing company for any breaches of contract. You don't have to pay for all of the work by credit card - you could just use it to put down a deposit, for example. The Act also applies if the double glazing company arranges a finance agreement for you to pay for the work, but not if you simply take out a bank loan yourself.
You are covered for misrepresentation, for example if the double glazing company makes promises about its product or service that turn out to be untrue. You're also covered if the double glazing trader goes out of business before finishing the job, as you can claim the cost of finishing it from the credit card provider. The contract must be for more than £100, but less than £30,000. For more information, see our guide to understanding the consumer credit act.