How to buy double glazing
Your rights when buying double glazing
By Liz Ransome-Croker
Article 5 of 5
Your rights when buying double glazing
Whether you're about to buy double glazing or have had issues with an installation, our guide will help you understand your rights.
When you buy double glazing, there are a number of laws in place to protect you from the moment you sign a contract.
This guide explains your rights and what to do if you need to complain about your double glazing or the installation. You can click on the links below to go down to the section you're interested in.
- Your rights if you want to cancel your double glazing
- Double glazing contracts - what should be included
- Your rights if you have a problem with your double glazing
- How to resolve problems with a double glazing company
You're less likely to experience problems if you choose a company that has good reviews from its customers and has been established for 10 years or more.
But don't take the company's word for it - ask to see evident or check records with Companies House and ask to actually speak to some customers.
We would also suggest asking for a copy of their public liability insurance before any work is undertaken - a reputable company would usually have this. Make sure you also have the trader's personal and business names, written addresses with postcodes and contact number/s.
We can help you choose the right double glazing company for your home - we've surveyed thousands of double glazing customers to find out which company is best. Click to see our double glazing company reviews.
Your rights when buying double glazing will depend on various factors. This includes whether you buy windows and doors that have been made to measure for your home or are a standard size, and how and where you decide to enter into the contract.
The scenarios below show you how your right to cancel is affected by the double glazing you choose and the way you enter into your contract:
Situations where you DON'T legally have the right to cancel
- Your windows and doors are made to measure and/or custom made to your specific requirements. There is no right to cancel.
- You entered into a contract at the trader or company's office. This is known as an 'on-premises' contract and you do not have a right to cancel.
- The trader or salesman has discussed the contract with you at your home, and you agreed to enter into it some time later. This is also classified as an 'on-premises' contract and you do not have a right to cancel.
Although signing an 'on-premises' contract or getting made-to-measure double glazing means the trader or company doesn't legally have to give you the option to cancel, they can offer it in your contract. So it's worth asking about this.
It's also worth noting that there is usually a right to cancel if you pay a charge, but whether this right exists and how much it will be depends on the customer.
Situations where you DO legally have the right to cancel
- If the trader or company visits your home and you verbally agree to the contract or indeed sign one, 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, within which time you can cancel.
- If you enter into a contract away from the trader or company's premises, such as online or over the phone, this is called an 'distance selling' contract (unless you've already discussed the contract at your home and later agree to it, like in the example above). You also have to be given a minimum of 14 days as a cooling-off period.
Some companies offer more generous cancellation periods, so it's worth checking this. If you exercise your right to cancel the double glazing, any finance agreement the company has arranged for you will also automatically end.
You can find out more about your exact rights to cancel, including when the period runs from and how to cancel, in our guide to Consumer Contracts Regulations.
Even though you'll get cancellation rights if you sign there and then when a double glazier comes to your home, you shouldn't sign feel pressurised to do so.
We'd recommend taking your time and getting a number of quotes and opinions, to make sure you get the best value and someone reputable. Visit our guide to double glazing sales and quotes to read more tips on how to side-step common sales tactics and ensure you don't get caught out by a rogue trader.
Before a double glazing firm can enter into a contract with you, it's legally obliged to give you information about the terms of the contract. This includes:
- a description of the goods/services
- the total price (inclusive of any additional charges known at the start)
- when it’ll be provided, all of which it must adhere to.
Where you enter into a 'distance selling' or 'off-premises' contract, this information must be given on paper. Unless you agree to another ‘durable medium’, such as an email or text message. This is the bare minimum though.
If it's an 'on-premises' contract, the company isn’t bound to provide as much detail. But what it does provide you with is still legally binding, so we'd recommend getting as much as possible in writing. The more you have written down, either on paper or in email, the easier it will also be to sort things out if problems arise.
If you’re unhappy with what's provided, reconsider that company.
The trader or salesman must also provide a copy of the signed contract (or confirmation of the contract) before or at the same time that the double glazing is delivered and before the performance of any services commences.
For online contracts, the information can be given online before you place the order. But it must be confirmed in a durable medium (such as an email or text) no later than when the double glazing is delivered and before services commence.
All our Which? Trusted Traders are signed up to our Code of Conduct, which means they must follow the correct procedures for the work they are doing, and give you the necessary paperwork and contracts.
Your rights if you have a problem with your double glazing
In the unfortunate event that something goes wrong during or after your double glazing installation, there are laws in place to protect you.
Under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 (previously the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982 for contracts signed before 1 October 2015) any double glazing installation should:
- be done using ‘reasonable care and skill'
- be made with materials that are ‘of satisfactory quality’ and ‘fit for their purpose’
- and be ‘as described’ - i.e. what you ordered.
If the double glazing company doesn’t meet the conditions above, is has breached its contract and you have the right to have the windows and doors repaired or replaced. The double glazing company can decide which of these it's prepared to do, based on what's cheaper.
It also has to make sure that any repair or replacement is carried out ‘within a reasonable time but without causing significant inconvenience’.
Note that if a double glazing company uses subcontractors, it's 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. Any claim you have will be against the double glazing company, not the subcontractors.
We asked double glazing owners the most common issues they experienced. Happily, only 13% experienced an issue with the purchase of their double glazing, and 15% with the delivery. It was the installation that people most commonly had a problem with - 23% of the 2,155 customers we asked did.
Visit our double glazing company reviews to find out what problems people experienced most readily. That way you know what to expect and might be able to plan to avoid them.
1Act quickly and talk to the company
As soon as you know there is a problem, contact the double glazing company. If you phone, follow up the conversation with a letter or email - the more you have in writing, the better.
Confirm the problem, what it needs to do to rectify it and what it originally agreed to do and by when. Don't communicate about issues over text or WhatsApp.
Our legal experts have drawn up template letters to help make it easier for you. You can use our template letters to complain about builders in England, Wales and Northern Ireland or complain about builders in Scotland.
2Agree a final date to resolve issues by
If the double glazing company doesn't sort out the problems when it said it would, contact it again. Agree a final date by which the work must be completed.
If the final deadline passes or the double glazing company has done nothing to fix the problem, give it 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 it - by taking it to court if necessary.
If applicable, it's worth also getting quotes from other glazing installers for fixing the problem. You can use these in your communication with the company to clarify how much you will be claiming back from it if it doesn't fix the issues.
Also make sure you have a record of the problems - including photographs where necessary. You will need this as evidence if you claim against the company in court.
4Get a third-party involved
There are a number of organisations that run Competent Persons Schemes, such as BM Trada, BSI, Fensa and Napit. Many of these run their own Alternate Dispute Resolution schemes, so can step in to help get things resolved.
- The Glass and Glazing Federation (GGF) offers a free conciliation service if you're using one of its members.
- Fensa has a complaints process if you're unable to resolve issues directly with one of its members.
- 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 its conciliation or complaints process.
It's also worth being aware that the decision it makes is legally binding and you can't then escalate the issue to court if you're dissatisfied.
Our full guide to resolving problems with a trader or company gives more details on Alternate Dispute Resolution services, as well as what you need to do to use one.
5Getting someone else to fix the issue
If you'd rather just get the problem fixed by someone else, make sure you complete the steps above if you want to be able to claim any money back - you have to be able to prove that you have tried to resolve things first and given the company reasonable time to rectify problems.
If the company won't resolve things, or pay back money you've claimed for rectifying the issues, you may need start court proceedings to claim back the money.
If the amount involved is less than the small claims limit, you will be able to use the small claims court. In England and Wales the limit is £10,000 and £3,000 in Northern Ireland.
There is no 'small claims' in Scotland, but the equivalent is the Simple Procedure, where the limit is £5,000.00.
For more information, read our guide to the small claims court. You can also use our Which? Legal service - it's free to Which? members. It can help offer advice on the best course of action and guide you through the process.
Under the Consumer Credit Act 1974, a credit company is equally liable with the double glazing company for any breaches of contract. The contract must be for more than £100, but less than £30,000.
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 also 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. For more information, see our guide to understanding the consumer credit act.